‘We’re Going to War.’ Oscar Tshiebwe anticipates a tough test against Auburn


Kentucky Wildcats forward Oscar Tshiebwe (34) chases after a rebound during the UK vs. Central Michigan men’s basketball game on Monday, Nov. 29, 2021, at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky. UK won 85-57. Photo by Michael Clubb | Staff

Jaron Centers

UK center Oscar Tshiebwe and head coach John Calipari took questions from the media ahead of their trip to Auburn to face the No. 2 ranked Tigers. 

Looking to Saturday, Tshiebwe said the team has a “war” ready mindset. 

“The mindset for us right now is we’re going to war,” the junior said. “It’s not gonna be easy, we just need to go out and fight, like people go fight for their countries. They aren’t gonna just go out and play around, they’re willing to die. So, we’re willing to die just to win Saturday.” 

Strong words, Oscar. 

Tshiebwe said the vibe around the team right now is “really good” coming off a big win in College Station. 

“We’re having fun,” he said. “We are so together and we care for each other.”

When asked what makes Auburn such a good team, Tshiebwe accredited the success of the Tigers to their fight. 

“What makes them good is what they do—they fight,” Tshiebwe said. “We know it’s not gonna be easy, it’s gonna be a 40-minute game. We’re gonna finish our business.”

In the team’s recent stretch of success, Tshiebwe said communication has been key in the Cats’ development as of late. 

“We communicate,” he said. “We talk a lot, spend time together, we just talk. Like, how we’re going to fight, how we’re going to be a good team, how we’re going to help each other. We do a lot of different things not a lot of teams do. That’s one thing I love the most about this team because we communicate. 

In addition to communication, Tshiebwe says accountability is a major factor in how the team thrives. 

“If I see you’re not doing good, not making shots, I’m gonna come knock on your door. Go get in the gym because we need you to make shots,” Tshiebwe said.  “If I see you do something that is not helping us I’m telling you, ‘no, you gotta stop. If you don’t stop, I’m gonna get a coach involved’. And in order for us to help this team, we gotta fix the mistakes every time you see it.” 

In Calipari’s brief stint at the podium, he said the Cats need to stay focused on each individual game and not make them bigger than the others. 

“Anytime you’re in a league and another team is good, you know it’s a significant game,” Calipari said. “The problem with us is if we try to make any game bigger than another. So we’ve got to go into the game, knowing that the game we’re gonna play, we respect all the teams.” 

The Cats will face a talented roster in the Tigers, featuring center Walker Kessler, point guard Wendell Green Jr, and most notably Jabari Smith, the star freshman who’s worked his way to the top of many mock NBA draft boards. Calipari believes all of those matchups will be a challenge for his squad. 

“Yeah, they’re all tough matchups,” he said. “They’re long, they’re big. You know, Green is good with the ball and shoots it. We’re going into a hostile environment. It’s gonna be a really hard game. And for us, we continue to learn about our team.”

Calipari’s team will have a tough task ahead of them in arguably one of the biggest games of the year thus far. The Cats and Tigers will tip-off at 1 p.m E.T and will air on CBS.