Saint Peter’s Day: Kentucky stunned by Peacocks 85-79 in NCAA Tournament


Kentucky Wildcats head coach John Calipari coaches forwards Keion Brooks Jr. (12) and Lance Ware (55) during the UK vs. Saint Peter’s mens basketball game in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Thursday, March 17, 2022, at Gainbridge Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Indiana. UK lost 85-79. Photo by Jack Weaver | Staff

Hunter Shelton

INDIANAPOLIS—For the third year in a row, Kentucky basketball has failed to win a game in the big dance. 

The No. 2 seeded Wildcats were stunned by the No. 15 seed Saint Peter’s Peacocks 85-79 in overtime on Thursday night in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. 

Behind poor shooting down the stretch, a failure to make free throws and a lack of adjustments, Big Blue Nation witnessed the biggest upset in Kentucky basketball history, ending the season of what one was once thought to be a national championship-contending team. 

“Sad day. Not just we lose a game. It’s that this season ended with this group and how much joy they brought to me and our staff,” UK coach John Calipari said.

National Player of the Year frontrunner Oscar Tshiebwe did his best to will the Cats to victory, scoring 30 points and hauling in 16 rebounds. No matter how much the man mountain did, the Peacocks had an answer. 

Daryl Banks III led Saint Peter’s with 27 points on 9-19 shooting, but it was sophomore guard Doug Edert who propelled the Peacocks to their first ever NCAA Tournament win in program history.

Edert finished with 20 points, 15 of which came in the second half and overtime. 

“My coach was making great play calls towards the end of the game. I love that he believes in me so much to take those kind of shots,” Edert said. “My teammates do a great job of setting screens and giving me good passes when I’m open, and I’m shooting with a lot of confidence.”

Despite BBN outnumbering the Saint Peter’s faithful in the thousands, it was the small flock of Peacock fans making all the noise as their team became apart of history. 

While the victory shell-shocked the crowd inside Gainbridge Fieldhouse, Saint Peter’s was anything but surprised. 

“This is something that these guys understand, no disrespect to anybody, but we wasn’t coming down here just to lose. We came down here to fight and we did,” head coach Shaheen Holloway said. 

Holloway’s group knocked down nine 3-pointers, each one bigger than the previous. Kentucky would make just four treys in 45 minutes, headlined by the absence of Kellan Grady. 

After a sub-par performance in UK’s previous game against Tennessee in the SEC Tournament, Grady turned in another off-night on offense, finishing with eight points on 1-9 shooting. 

When the Cats needed their resident sharpshooter in overtime, he was unable to step up to the plate and deliver, much like a majority of regulation. 

The lone make for the Davidson transfer came with just 48 seconds to go, as he finally buried a deep ball to give UK a two-point cushion. 

Edert immediately answered with a layup, tying the game at 71. Kentucky held for the last shot, not taking a timeout, eventually leading to a difficult look from TyTy Washington Jr. that had no chance of falling. 

Washington couldn’t kick his slow start, finishing with a mere five points on 2-10 shooting. 

In overtime, Tshiebwe gave the Cats a four-point lead with back-to-back layups, but the Peacocks would wipe it away with a free throw by KC Ndefo and a 3-pointer via Edert. 

Kentucky would shoot itself in the foot at the charity stripe in overtime. Five times, to be exact. 

Tshiebwe and Sahvir Wheeler would each miss a pair of free throws that would’ve extended UK’s lead to two possessions, while Davion Mintz failed to make one of his two attempts in the period.

The Peacocks would make UK pay, as they rattled off five points in a row, four of which came from Banks free throws. 

With 30 seconds left, the Cats were down by five. Washington attempted to lead the final charge by drilling a three, but it was too little too late. 

Grady would miss one final shot before the Peacocks iced the game at the free throw line, stunning college basketball fans around the globe. 

“Every team that made it to the NCAA Tournament think that they could advance. You know, like you just have to be good on this night. It’s not about your record. It’s not about what school you at. It’s whoever is good on that night, and tonight, it was our night,” Holloway said. 

What resulted in complete thrill for that tiny Jesuit school from Jersey City, New Jersey, ended in total agony for the blue bloods from Lexington. 

“I feel bad for the guys, because I mean, they are taking it hard,” Calipari said. “I come back to, this was an unbelievable group. Just picked a bad day to not make a shot.” 

Couldn’t have picked a worse one.