Poor shooting sees No. 13 Wildcats fall 63-53 against No. 16 UCLA


Jack Weaver

Kentucky Wildcats forward Oscar Tshiebwe (34) reacts to a play during the No. 4 Kentucky vs. Michigan State Champions Classic mens basketball game on Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2022, at Gainbridge Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. Michigan State won 86-77 in the second overtime. Photo by Jack Weaver | Staff

Cole Parke, Sports Editor

A poor night from the field saw No. 13 Kentucky (7-3) be defeated 63-53 against No. 16 UCLA inside Madison Square Garden for the CBS Sports Classic on Saturday.

The Wildcats finished the game shooting 33% (21-64) from the field, 29% (6-21) from beyond the arc and 38% (5-13) from the free-throw line.

To make matters worse, Kentucky finished the night with a 4:31 scoring drought, relinquishing any hope for a comeback it had.

Only two Wildcats finished with double digit point totals with freshman Chris Livingston leading the team with 14 points. He was followed by point guard Sahvir Wheeler, who recorded 11 points.

Somewhat unsurprisingly, Livingston and Wheeler were the only Wildcats to shoot 50% or above on the squad.

The Cats were shut down in many areas they normally rely on to succeed, most notably with returning consensus national player of the year Oscar Tshiebwe finishing the night with just eight points. The eight-point end tally ties for the second lowest of the season for Tshiebwe.

This poor performance for “Big O” was incredibly visible when looking at points in the paint, with UCLA outscoring the Cats 32-20 down low.

Another area in which Kentucky was noticeably lacking was in three-point shooting, with expected sharpshooters CJ Fredrick and Antonio Reeves finishing with a combined six points from beyond the arc.

While Reeves finished the night 2-8 from deep, Fredrick recorded his second consecutive game without attempting a 3-pointer and third game of the season without a made 3-pointer.

Looking at the opposition, UCLA finished the night shooting 45.8% from the field after shooting 50% from the field in the first half.

Jaime Jaquez Jr. finished the night with 19 points, leading all scorers, and was followed by Tyger Cambell and Jaylen Clark, both of whom finished with 15 points.

The Bruins weren’t just boosted by UK’s poor shooting though, with UCLA also being able to notch 17 points off of 18 Kentucky turnovers.

Sahvir Wheeler was to blame for ⅓ of Kentucky’s turnovers by himself, one of which was a technical foul for flopping, while Livingston and Jacob Toppin recorded three each as well.

With the loss Kentucky remains winless against ranked competition and falls to 1-2 against power-five opponents.

The Wildcats won’t have another opportunity to record a power-five win until after Christmas when it faces off with Missouri in Columbia on Dec. 28. Kentucky’s next game against a currently ranked opponent is even further away, with UK traveling to play No. 4 Alabama on Jan. 7.

In the meantime, Kentucky will return to action on Wednesday, Dec. 21, in the second annual “Unity Series” against the Florida A&M Rattlers.

Tipoff against the Rattlers is scheduled for 7 p.m. EST and will air live on the SEC Network.