No. 18 Kentucky wins fourth straight; defeats High Point 92-48


Kentucky Wildcats guard TyTy Washington Jr. (3) congratulates his teammate Kentucky Wildcats guard Kellan Grady (31) during the University of Kentucky vs. High Point basketball game on Friday, Dec. 31, 2021, at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky. Photo by Jackson Dunavant | Staff

Jaron Centers

No. 18 Kentucky defeated the High Point Panthers 92-48 on Friday afternoon in the Cats’ final game of 2021. 

The Wildcats earned their 11th win of the season in their final tune-up game before the thick of SEC play begins. 

Kellan Grady stole the show, scoring 23 points, making seven threes on 10 attempts total. TyTy Washington and Oscar Tshiebwe both finished with 15 points while Davion Mintz tallied 10 points of his own.

The matchup against High Point was more special than usual, as Kentucky honored former head coach and national champion Tubby Smith, unveiling his name in the rafters of Rupp Arena among other UK greats. 

UK shot an effiecent 59.1 percent from the field and 38.5 percent from 3-point range. Kentucky achieved their fourth straight double-digit victory, winning by an average margin of 33.75 points. 

After the big performance, Grady contributed the team’s recent success to chemistry.

“We’re just a cohesive group, both on the court and off the court,” Grady said. “We understand each other; our humor, inside jokes. It’s just what you’d expect in a team where you have a bunch of guys who are close. Everyone appreciates each other.”

High Point’s season-leading scorers John-Michael Wright and Zach Austin had 15 points each, leading the Panthers in the blowout loss against the Cats. 

The Panthers kept things close early in the first half, even tying the score 14-14 at one point. From that moment on, the Cats began to slowly build their lead. 

Momentum began to swing Kentucky’s way, as Lance Ware provided solid minutes defensively in Tshiebwe’s absence. The sophomore had two blocks and five rebounds in just two minutes played.

Poor shooting from the Panthers halted any kind of comeback from forming, as High Point shot 31.1 percent from the field in the first half, cashing in only 10 makes on 32 attempts.

A 9-0 scoring run to end the half put the Cats up 17 going into the locker room. Kentucky’s balanced scoring attack from Washington, Brooks, Grady, and Tshiebwe kept a firm lead for the remainder of the first. High Point wouldn’t come within range again. 

The Cats showed no mercy to the former UK head coach, as Grady erupted for 15 quick points in three minutes, making five 3-pointers in that span. The scoring run put Kentucky ahead by 27 at the 14:05 mark. 

From then on, Kentucky spread the scoring out, as Calipari worked in freshmen Damion Collins and Bryce Hopkins into the rotations for the rest of the half. UK had 10 Wildcats finish in the scoring column by the time the final buzzer sounded. 

The clock hit zero with a final score of 92-48, as the Panthers failed to score in the last 2:23 of the game. 

As efficient as Kentucky was in the first half, they were better in the second. The Cats shot an even 60 percent from the field and 40 percent from deep. A dominant day of basketball is as simple as one could put it for the Kentucky Wildcats. 

The Cats will seek to carry the momentum into the heat of conference play, as UK travels to Baton Rouge on Tuesday, Jan. 4, to take on LSU. The road trip will be to UK’s first conference road game of the season. The game will tip-off at 7 p.m. EST and will air on ESPN.