No. 7 Kentucky defeats Ole Miss 83-72, completes undefeated season at home


Kentucky Wildcats guard Kellan Grady (31) is checked out of the UK vs. Ole Miss mens basketball game on Tuesday, March 1, 2022, at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky. UK won 83-72. Photo by Michael Clubb | Staff

Hunter Shelton

For one final time, Davion Mintz and Kellan Grady got to leave Rupp Arena as a winner, as No. 7 Kentucky (24-6, 13-4 Southeastern Conference) defeated Ole Miss (13-17, 4-13 SEC) 83-72 on senior night.  

The senior duo combined for 15 points as the Wildcats completed an undefeated campaign at home, winning all 18 games they played in Lexington this season.

UK head coach John Calipari has now accomplished this feat six times at the helm of Kentucky, something he credits to Big Blue Nation: 

“Our fans, I’ve said it all along, are the biggest part of what happens here. It’s what sets us apart.”

National Player of the Year candidate Oscar Tshiebwe recorded his 24th double-double of the season on Tuesday, scoring 18 points and snatching 15 rebounds in 34 minutes.  

Despite once again putting up gaudy numbers, Calipari felt that Tuesday was one of Tshiebwe’s lesser performances on the season. 

“I thought Oscar got bullied, I did. I was on him about it,” he said. “Just like i’m keeping Keion [Brooks] and telling him, i’m holding you to a high standard.” 

Tshiebwe’s matchup, center Nysier Brooks, finished with 14 points and five rebounds. 

Despite his criticisms, Calipari knows what his big man brings to the table and how important he will be to the Wildcats down the final stretch. 

“If you don’t have a post presence, you’re a fraud,” he said. “If you think you’re going to March to the NCAA Tournament shooting 40 3’s a game, good luck.” 

In their second game back from injury, Sahvir Wheeler and TyTy Washington shook off the rust and tallied 16 and 14 points respectively. The tandem shot 11-19 and combined for 11 assists against the Rebels. Kentucky shot 60 percent as a team. 

“Our game is the daily pursuit of excellence,” Wheeler said. 

Matthew Murrell led the way for Ole Miss, totaling 25 points on 9-16 shooting.  

Kentucky raced out to a 44-35 lead at halftime, leading a majority of the first 20 minutes by double-digits.  

The Wildcats spread the love, as Tshiebwe, Mintz and Wheeler all headed to the locker room with eight points, while Grady and Washington had seven.  

As a team, UK shot 58.6 percent, with eight different players scoring a point in the half. 

Ole Miss countered with 50 percent shooting. The Rebels found a home in the paint, scoring 20 points down low in the half. Murrell led Mississippi with 10 points.  

The second half began as smooth as the first, but the Wildcats hit a lull down the stretch, allowing the Rebels to cut the deficit as low as six points with two minutes remaining.  

Murrell poured in 15 more points while Brooks added eight of his own.  

Kentucky would stave off the late comeback attempt, making three free throws to get the lead back to nine, before Tshiebwe intercepted a pass to preserve the cushion.  

Both Grady and Mintz would get their final curtain call, although it may not have come as soon as Calipari would’ve liked.  

The 83-72 victory leads the Wildcats into their final game of the season, in Gainesville against Florida (18-11, 8-8 SEC.) 

“We’re still taking it one day at a time, one game at a time, looking forward to our next opponent and how we can win that game,” Wheeler said. 

Kentucky defeated Florida 78-57 in Lexington on Feb. 12, but Calipari knows the Gators will be waiting with revenge on their mind. 

“We know how good they are,” he said. “And it’s on the road, and you know it’s going to be a nuthouse.” 

Tip-off between the Wildcats and Gators is set for 2 p.m. EST on Saturday, March 5.