Cons outweigh pros for Calipari as UK defeat Wesleyan 95-72 in exhibition


Kentucky Wildcats head coach John Calipari yells at his team during the UK vs. Wesleyan exhibition game on Friday, Oct. 29, 2021, at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky. UK won 95-72. Photo by Jack Weaver | Staff

Hunter Shelton

No. 10 Kentucky defeated Kentucky Wesleyan 95-72 in the Wildcats’ first of two exhibition games before the regular season. 

Five Wildcats finished in double-figures scoring, headlined by 18 points from both Keion Brooks Jr. and TyTy Washington.

Wesleyan’s Jomel Boyd led all scorers, finishing with 29 points on 12-17 shooting. 

While the Cats won by 23, head coach John Calipari was less than pleased with the interior defense played by his team. 

“We got to figure it out, and I’ll be honest, I have not zeroed in on it…we tried two or three different guys to say ‘let’s go, let’s see how you do,’ they didn’t do very well,” Calipari said. 

KYW’s Boyd lit up the Kentucky defense in the second half, scoring 17 points on 8-10 shooting. 

“In the second half, [Boyd] went crazy,” Calipari said. 

Kentucky’s star forward, Oscar Tshiebwe, played just 17 minutes on Friday. Coach Calipari noted that the West Virginia transfer’s hip was “bothering” Tshiebwe.

The Wildcats connected on 11 of 29 three-point attempts against the Panthers. While the number of attempts was high, Calipari can live with the results if the output matches what it did on Friday:

“My son said to me, ‘We took 29 three’s.’ I said, ‘What was the percentage?’ He said, ‘37.’ I said, ‘Okay, I’m good with that.’ You shoot 37, 40 percent, you probably should shoot 29 three’s,” Calipari said.

Brooks, just a 23 percent three-point shooter in his career, made four of his six attempts from beyond the arch. Washington was a perfect 3-3 from downtown. 

Sahvir Wheeler and Davion Mintz each recorded six assists, accounting for 60 percent of the team’s total assists. Mintz also turned in 12 points, four rebounds and a steal to go along with his six dimes. 

“I think Davion fought. I love what I saw from Davion today,” Calipari said. 

With starting lineup positions up for grabs, Calipari made note that Mintz’s performance on Friday, specifically his defense, did the sixth-year guard some favors:

“Davion helped himself today because of how he guarded…You can stay on the court if you defend that way,” Calipari said. 

While the victory was never in question for the Cats, Calipari knows that his group has much to improve on, as the season opener against Duke on Nov. 9, rapidly approaches.

“Let me just put it this way: we got a lot of work to do,” Calipari said.