UK mens basketball will host Howard to start highly anticipated season


Kentucky Wildcats forward Oscar Tshiebwe (34) blocks out an opponent under the basket 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

Cole Parke, Sports Editor

Starting No. 4 overall in the preseason poll, Kentucky basketball looks to open its season with one thing on its mind: bringing the ninth national championship to Lexington.

Kentucky fans may be getting tired of the anticipation that always surrounds the basketball program as it begins every year with one of the most talented rosters in the country just to come up short in the end. That said, this season could hardly be described as anything other than one with a lot of potential.

Following last season’s disastrous first round upset to No. 15 Saint Peter’s, Kentucky returned the bulk of its talent and production.
Starting point guard Sahvir Wheeler returned to the program and, while an injury suffered in Kentucky’s first exhibition may keep him out to start, will be a pivotal leader for the program.

On top of that, names like Jacob Toppin, Daimion Collins, Lance Ware and CJ Fredrick all also returned to the program and look to have larger roles in the season to come, in addition to returning consensus national player of the year Oscar Tshiebwe.

On top of that, the Wildcats bring in talented freshmen like Cason Wallace, Chris Livingston and Adou Thiero, on top of veteran transfer Antonio Reeves, to replenish the losses of TyTy Washington Jr., Keion Brooks Jr., Bryce Hopkins and Shaedon Sharpe in the offseason.

With a roster like that, many fans struggle to set the bar at anything less than a ninth national title coming to Lexington, and it seems like the players recognize that and have their eyes set on a similar goal.

Whether or not that goal will be recognized is yet to be seen and won’t be for another half a year, but the path to that point starts on Monday, Nov. 7, inside Rupp Arena as the Wildcats host Howard in their season opener.

Howard is a historically Black college or university (HBCU) in Washington, D.C., most famous for being the alma-mater of many important figures such as the first African-American Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall and current Vice President Kamala Harris.

The Bison play in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC), despite plans to leave the conference in the offseason that ultimately didn’t come to fruition, finishing last season with a 16-13 record before bowing out in the first round of the MEAC Tournament to Coppin State.

Following the Bison, Kentucky hosts Duquesne, also inside Rupp Arena, on Friday, Nov. 11, before traveling to Indianapolis for the 2022 Champions Classic against Michigan State the following Tuesday.

With two easier opponents prior to the Champions Classic, the Wildcats hope to set themselves up to succeed early on, not looking to have any early setbacks like the loss at Notre Dame one year ago.

Whether or not it succeeds or not is yet to be determined, with the path to gold beginning this Monday.