Kentucky’s stars shine in win over Florida


Jack Weaver

Kentucky Wildcats forward Chris Livingston (24) shoots the ball during the Kentucky vs. No. 7 Alabama mens basketball game on Saturday, Jan. 7, 2023, at Coleman Coliseum in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Alabama won 78-52. Photo by Jack Weaver | Staff

Ali Cetinok, Assistant Sports Editor

Kentucky beat Florida 82-74 on Wednesday to win its third game in a row and put itself in better standings when looking at postseason ambitions.

Oscar Tshiebwe had something to prove after he had just four points in the previous matchup, going 2-14 from the floor when the Gators met the Cats in Rupp Arena earlier this season.

With all eyes on the reigning consensus National Player of the Year, Tshiebwe went off, going 12-13 from the floor on his way to 25 points.

While “Big O” will be earning plenty of praise from the Big Blue Nation, he was far from the only hero on Wednesday night, with the rest of the starting five also playing key roles in pushing the Cats to a hard-fought victory, playing for the entire second half. 

Veteran players Antonio Reeves and Jacob Toppin made their presences known, with Reeves finishing with 16 points for his 21st double-figure game of the season, along with a season-high four assists. 

Toppin would also shine with a double-double, recording 19 points and 11 rebounds, marking his 11th-straight game with double-figure points. 

While the veterans on the team had great nights, it was ultimately freshman Chris Livingston that sealed Kentucky’s third consecutive victory.

With the Cats up by just two with less than 60 seconds left in regulation, Livingston grabbed an offensive rebound to score and was fouled for an opportunity for a 3-point play. He would take advantage of the opportunity and give the Cats a 77-72 lead.

The SEC Freshman of the Week finished with 10 points and a career-high 15 rebounds in the win, key strides for his development after injuries to guards Sahvir Wheeler and CJ Fredrick forced him into the spotlight.

While Cason Wallace didn’t have his best game for Kentucky against Florida on Wednesday, he made sure to contribute to the victory with eight points, six assists and two blocks, going perfect from the charity stripe after hitting all four of his free throws. 

With another convincing win on the road in the SEC, the Cats seemingly have turned it around yet another time this season since the disappointing loss to Georgia.

With four of the starting five fighting for over 38 minutes on Wednesday night, many in the Big Blue Nation will start to feel that Kentucky has become a much different team than what they were just a few weeks ago.

Kentucky will look to continue its current wave of momentum, returning to action on Saturday when it will host a tough Auburn team in Lexington. Tip-off is currently set for 4 p.m. inside Rupp Arena and the game can be seen on CBS.