Wildcats secure revolutionary win over Michigan in London


Jackson Dunavant

Kentucky Wildcats forward Jacob Toppin (0) drives to the basket during the Kentucky vs. North Florida mens basketball game on Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2022, at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky. Kentucky won 96-56. Photo by Jackson Dunavant | Staff

Ali Cetinok, Assistant Sports Editor

No. 19 Kentucky defeated Michigan 73-69 at the O2 Arena in London, England, on Sunday to improve to 6-2 on the season.

The Wildcats kicked off the night with Oscar Tshiebwe, Sahvir Wheeler, Cason Wallace, Antonio Reeves and Jacob Toppin as the starting lineup for the third game in a row.

While potentially insignificant, it may be indicative of head coach John Calipari having found a starting lineup he is comfortable with moving forward. 

Both sides started the affair slowly with Michigan’s 17-11 lead being the largest of the first half.

Later trailing 34-29, UK closed the half with an 8-2 run that saw it go into the break with a one-point lead and the score at 37-36.

Tshiebwe led Kentucky with 11 points and seven rebounds in the first half while Reeves finished perfect from beyond the arc, hitting three 3-pointers.

Kicking off the second half, Wallace started hot with eight quick points that included a pair of 3-pointers.

The Wildcats would be able to go on a 16-3 run – 8-1 to open the second half – building their largest lead up to that point with the score at 45-37.

Deeper into the second half, the Cats led 49-42 before the Wolverines went on an eight-point run and took back the lead at 50-49 before freshman Ugonna Onyenso would give Kentucky the lead back with a layup with just over 12 minutes left in regulation, making the score 51-50.

The Wildcats never trailed for the remainder of the night after retaking the lead courtesy of Onyenso.

With the score at 60-58, Wheeler went on to grab six quick points to give the Cats an eight-point lead, their largest of the night.

Juwan Howard’s Wolverines were able to bring the contest back within two points with the score at 68-66, but a clutch 3-pointer by Wallace with only about a minute left on the clock put the Cats ahead 71-66.

Following that point the Wolverines were never able to get back within two possessions as the Wildcats earned the right to return to Lexington with the win. Kentucky improved to 6-1 in regular-season games played on foreign soil. 

Jacob Toppin co-led the team in points, scoring 14 points, 10 of which came in the second half. The senior also grabbed five boards in the contest.

Wallace matched Toppin in the game with 14 points that he complemented with eight boards, matching his career best, and five assists, shooting a perfect 4-4 from beyond the arc.

Reeves also had a great shooting performance across the pond, going 3-4 from deep to earn 11 points on the day. 

Tshiebwe also notched his SEC-leading fourth double double of the season, the 44th of his career, earning 13 points and a game-leading 14 rebounds. 

With the win in London Kentucky earned its first high major win of the season, having lost to Michigan State and Gonzaga earlier in the season.

The Wildcats return to action on Sunday, Dec. 10, when Kentucky plays host to Yale at 1 p.m. EST. The game will be televised on the SEC Network.