Cason Wallace shines in 88-68 win over Florida A&M


Jack Weaver

Kentucky Wildcats guard Cason Wallace (22) dribbles towards the basket during the No. 19 Kentucky vs. Florida A&M mens basketball game on Wednesday, Dec. 21, 2022, at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky. UK won 88-68. Photo by Jack Weaver | Staff

Ali Cetinok, Assistant Sports Editor

After a disappointing showing in New York against UCLA, Kentucky mens basketball returned to Lexington to take on Florida A&M on Wednesday with it ultimately winning by 20 in a game that saw the Rattlers push the Cats to their limits.

Shooting was something that the Cats struggled with in the game prior, but it was a different story against Florida A&M with Kentucky shooting 52.2% from the field and going 13-23 from 3-point range. 

Cason Wallace shined for Kentucky on a night where the rest of head coach John Calipari’s squad looked slow. He finished with 27 points, going 10-15 from the field, and drilled five 3-pointers on six attempts.

Wallace also finished with two boards and nine assists with four steals to add to a showing that left not just his own head coach impressed. but also, Florida A&M’s Robert McCullum, who had nothing but praise for the Dallas native. 

“He’s a two-way player. To find a young player – a freshman – that plays that way on both ends is really impressive,” McCullum said.  Normally, for young players, it takes a while to get them to buy in on defense, but he plays on both ends. He can hurt you in so many ways offensively. He can get to the basket, he can get his shot off the dribble, and he can catch and shoot. Then you look at his size. Small guards are going to have a lot of difficulty trying to guard him.”

Calipari also offered praise for Wallace. 

“Well, he made shots tonight,” Calipari said. “You know, we’ve got to keep working with him as he plays point. Decision making, seeing the court better. What he did today is he made shots so you couldn’t go under on the pick-and-roll.” 

Along with Wallace, Oscar Tshiebwe finished the night with 14 points and eight boards while CJ Fredrick hit four threes on five attempts for his 12 points, something that he received praise for postgame. 

“Yeah, we need CJ to win,” Calipari said. “We really do. I’m going to tell you, he’s the one that made the pass to Oscar to get the two free throws. There were other passes that we’re throwing that you’re like, dude, you threw to the inside. That almost got stolen. Those are things that he’s not going to make those kinds of errors. I told him, like, I believe in you, kid. Making shots and making plays and he fights on defense, we switched, he fronted. The reason I had those guys in at the end, they’re veterans, playing to win.” 

Despite SEC play rapidly approaching, Calipari showed that he does not quite know who his best squad is just yet, with many different lineups being tested against the Rattlers on Wednesday.

“Like I said, we’re one of those teams that hasn’t figured all this stuff out yet, and you notice I tried all different kinds of combinations today, but I wanted to see them,” Calipari said. “I thought maybe Ugonna and Oscar together would be okay. Oscar has got to guard a four and he left their four twice for I think six points. Like, you can’t leave that guy; he’s a shooter.”

Kentucky begins SEC play on Monday, Dec. 28, inside Rupp Arena, with tipoff set for 7 p.m. EST and streaming live on the SEC Network.