No Wheeler, no problem: Washington sets assists record as UK defeats Georgia 92-77


Kentucky Wildcats guard TyTy Washington Jr. (3) drives the ball into the paint during the UK vs Georgia men’s basketball game on Saturday, Jan. 8, 2022, at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky. UK won 92-77. Photo by Michael Clubb | Staff

Hunter Shelton

No. 16 Kentucky got back to its winning ways on Saturday night, defeating the Georgia Bulldogs 92-77 inside Rupp Arena.  

The win improves the Cats record to 12-3 (2-1 SEC) in the regular season, while dropping the Bulldogs to 5-10 (0-2 SEC.) 

Four Wildcats finished in doublefigures scoring, led by a monstrous 29-point effort by Oscar Tshiebwe. The big man connected on 13 of 21 shots while wrangling in 17 rebounds in 38 minutes.  

For UK head coach John Calipari, he doesn’t want Tshiebwe to get caught up in the glitz and the glamour of what could be, he wants his center to focus on the now.  

“What I told him today at the shootaround was ‘don’t worry about two months from now,” Calipari said. “That will screw you up. Worry about how you have been playing.” 

Through 15 games, Tshiebwe is averaging 15.2 points and 15.1 rebounds per game. 

Despite the dominant performance from Tshiebwe on Saturday, the story of the night belonged to TyTy Washington Jr.  

With starting point guard Sahvir Wheeler out due to a neck injury, Washington slotted into the point guard role and did not miss a beat.  

In just under 37 minutes, Washington made UK history, recording 17 assists, breaking John Wall’s single-game record.  

To go along with his new record, Washington scored 17 points while collecting five rebounds and two steals.  

TyTy played really well. We can do, just like we’ve done with Jamal [Murray], just like we’ve done with Brandon Knight, and just like we did with Tyrese Maxey. He can be away from the ball, and we can still do things with him so he can make basketball plays, but he was good today,” Calipari said. 

Davion Mintz provided stellar bench minutes, scoring 19 points while making five 3-point attempts.  

Keion Brooks’ 12 second half points helped the junior forward finish with 14 on 6-8 shooting. The Wildcats shot 57 percent from the field and 40 percent from deep as a team. 

Georgia was paced by 22 points from sophomore Kario Oquendo, who dropped 15 in the second half to attempt to keep the final deficit close.  

Point guard and Gonzaga transfer Aaron Cook finished with 17 points and five assists for the Bulldogs. Despite shooting 49 percent as a team, UGA couldn’t keep up with the Cats down the stretch.  

It wasn’t a fast start for UK, however. The Cats began the game shooting 1-6, while UGA’s Cook landed his first three shots of the night to help the Dawgs race out to an early lead.  

Georgia’s effort and hustle outmatched Kentucky in the early goings, allowing them to keep it close throughout the first half.  

A Kellan Grady steal and dunk gave UK a 13-12 lead with 13 minutes to go in the half, energizing Rupp Arena.  

Saturday was once again a slow start for Grady, however. The Davidson transfer began just 1-5 from the field, a similar theme to his performance against LSU on Jan. 4.  

Five Bulldog turnovers in the first 10 minutes halted Georgia from taking any significant lead in the first half, as UGA was effective from deep, pouring in four 3-pointers on nine attempts in 20 minutes.  

The two teams would go back-and-forth, trading buckets, with UK coming out slightly ahead thanks to four consecutive makes.  

With just over four minutes to play in the half, a controversial no-foul call on a Jacob Toppin layup attempt led to an outlet bucket by UGA’s Noah Baumann, regaining the lead for the Bulldogs, prompting boos from Big Blue Nation.  

Grady would respond, hitting his first and only trey of the night. Tshiebwe rattled in a midrange jumper from the free-throw line, and Brooks would connect as well, giving UK a 40-37 lead at the break.  

Georgia went a perfect 7-7 from the free-throw line in the half while shooting 52 percent as a team. The Cats matched with a 51.4 percent shooting half of their own.  

The second half saw the tides begin to turn, as it was now UK outhustling the Bulldogs.  

Kentucky opened the half by making 8 of its first 10 shots, growing the lead to eight.  

UGA’s offense began to stall out, leading to more transition buckets for the Wildcats. As the looks became easier, UK’s efficiency only increased.  

A putback slam by Tshiebwe would push the lead out to 12 for Kentucky with 12 minutes remaining.  

Georgia attempted to battle back, but Kentucky would not slow down. Two more rainmaker 3-pointers from Mintz accompanied with assist after assist from Washington meant the Cats were up 20 with five minutes left in the game.  

Oquendo would put Georgia on his back, scoring nine points in a row down the stretch, but the Bulldog defense had sputtered, unable to withstand the powerful Wildcat offense.  

With less than a minute remaining, Washington was two assists away from etching his name into UK history.  

The final two possessions for UK saw the freshman point guard zip passes into the paint to Brooks and Tshiebwe, both of whom finished at the rim easily, gifting Washington an illustrious accomplishment that will likely hold its ground for time to come. 

With the record in sight, Calipari was unaware that history was in the making. 

“I did not know,” Calipari said about the record. “If it’s points, I would probably take somebody out. But if you are talking assist and rebounds, I don’t mind leaving a guy in, but the game will dictate that.” 

Kentucky’s offensive outpour led to a final score of 92-77, providing the rebound needed after a tough loss in Baton Rouge.  

“I like where this group is,” Calipari said. “We’ve lost a couple of games I thought we gave away. We had our chances. But even for me as a coach, we have to move on to the next game.” 

Next up for the Wildcats is a quick trip to Nashville to take on the 9-5 (1-1 SEC) Vanderbilt Commodores.  

Whether the Cats will have their star point guard back in the mix, is still up in the air. 

“If [Wheeler] practices on Monday, he will be available for the game on Tuesday,” Calipari said. 

The matchup against the ‘Dores is scheduled for Tuesday, Jan. 11 and will tip-off at 7 p.m. E.T.