Oscar Tshiebwe leads Kentucky to 69-59 victory over Yale


Jack Weaver

Kentucky Wildcats forward Oscar Tshiebwe (34) blocks a shot during the No. 16 Kentucky vs. Yale mens basketball game on Saturday, Dec. 10, 2022, at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky. UK won 69-59. Photo by Jack Weaver | Staff

Samantha Money, Assistant Sports Editor

No. 16 Kentucky mens basketball (7-2) defeated the Yale Bulldogs 69-59 inside Rupp Arena, continuing the Wildcats’ 25-game home winning streak. 

Yale kept Kentucky on its toes during the first half, holding the Cats to shooting just 39.4% from the field and even tying the game at 33 in the beginning of the second half.

Just when Kentucky seemed to be on the ropes, the reigning National Player of the Year Oscar Tshiebwe stepped up to help the Cats pick up the pace.

Tshiebwe dominated the court against the Bulldogs with 22 of his 28 points coming in the second half, putting him just a basket away from tying his career-high of 30 points in a game.

He picked up his fifth double-double of the season with 12 rebounds to go along with his point total. 

His successes against Yale were even more notable considering he is still recovering from knee surgery that he underwent in the offseason.

I think I jumped up to 95 percent,” Tshiebwe said about his recovery. “We are just working, and it takes a lot of time. I had never had an injury before, and I had never thought about my knee too much, but now I do think about it.” 

Behind Tshiebwe, Sahvir Wheeler and Antonio Reeves amassed 10 points each to assist the Cats during their offensive runs.

On the defensive side, Kentucky stacked up 31 rebounds compared to the 30 put up by the Bulldogs. This game marked the first time all season that Yale had been beaten on the boards.

“We guarded pretty good against them,” Kentucky head coach John Calipari said. “It’s another hard game to play. You got to grind it. When we figured out we could throw it inside, it gave us a gap and some space. I liked how we finished the game off.”

Fans also saw some more action from freshman Chris Livingston, who put up seven points and two assists in just 14 minutes for the Cats

 He spoke after the game about his progression on the court this season.

“Just playing with my teammates, definitely way more comfortable offensively, knowing where I’ve got to be defensively,” Livingston said. “I still had a couple mistakes in breakdowns, but I definitely just feel more comfortable– enjoying it more out there on the floor.”

The Wildcats will have a couple of extra days off as they prepare for finals week before they are set to travel to New York City to play UCLA inside Madison Square Garden.

I am excited,” Tshiebwe said. “I never win at Madison Square Garden, so I have to fight this time. They are a good team, and we are a good team too and I respect them, but I have no fear of them. We are going to go fight and whoever fights the most is the team who is going to win.” 

The Cats will tip off against the Bruins for the CBS Sports Classic on Saturday, Dec. 17, at 5:15 p.m. EST inside Madison Square Garden in New York City. The game will be aired live on CBS.