No. 13 Kentucky improves to 2-1, defeats Mount St. Mary’s 80-55 behind Tshiebwe and Washington


Kentucky Wildcats forward Oscar Tshiebwe (34) dunks the ball during the UK vs. Mount St. Mary’s basketball game on Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2021, at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky. UK won 80-55. Photo by Michael Clubb | Staff

Hunter Shelton

No. 13 Kentucky improved to 2-1 on the season Tuesday night, fighting past the Mount St. Mary’s Mountaineers 80-55 in Rupp Arena. 

The Wildcats were once again paced by Oscar Tshiebwe. The West Virginia transfer finished with 24 points, 16 rebounds, three blocks, an assist and a steal. 

Through three games, Tshiebwe is averaging 18.3 points and 18.7 rebounds a contest.

The big man from the Congo isn’t just lighting it up from under the rim. Tshiebwe knocked down multiple 15-foot jump shots on Tuesday against the Mountaineers, adding yet another layer to his game.

“I told you all that he can shoot the ball,” UK head coach John Calipari said about Tshiebwe. 

Tshiebwe shot 11-14 from the floor against The Mount, improving his field goal percentage to a team best 61 percent. 

While it’s early into the season, Tshiebwe is well on his way to earning numerous postseason accolades. At six-foot-nine and 255 pounds, Tshiebwe’s size makes him a menace for any fellow forward to guard. 

“If you hit him and you’re running fast, what do you think is going to happen?” Calipari said. “You hit 255 [pounds,] seven percent body fat, you are going to spin and look like you got smashed.”

Mount St. Mary’s head coach Dan Engelstad applauded Tshiebwe’s hustle and rebounding prowess following UK’s victory.

“That motor that he has is just different,” Engelstad said. “Averaging 11 offensive rebounds through two games is no fluke … he really has a knack for finding the basketball.”

TyTy Washington excelled in the first half for Kentucky, pouring in 12 points on 5-6 shooting to go along with two assists. 

The freshman point guard out of Phoenix finished the game with 16 points, including his first two made 3-pointers of the regular season. Washington also hauled in three rebounds, three assists and a steal. 

Despite the solid performance, Washington knows that he’s capable of providing much more to his team.

“I feel like as the season progresses, as we keep playing these games, keep practicing at a high level … I’m getting more and more comfortable,” Washington said. “I know I’ll be perfectly fine.”

Washington’s backcourt partner, Sahvir Wheeler, was once again excellent for the Cats. The Georgia transfer poured in 12 points to go along with his eight assists, which led the team. 

After allowing seven turnovers against Duke on opening night, Wheeler has given the ball up just one time in his last two outings while dishing out 20 assists. 

While Kentucky’s scorers excelled, the Cats were able to shut down Malik Jefferson, MSM’s leading scorer and rebounder. UK held the forward to just 4 points on 2-8 shooting and four rebounds. 

UK exploited a huge weakness for the Mountaineers, the turnover battle. Through MSM’s first three games, The Mount turned the ball over 35 times, averaging 11.7 a contest. The Cats would beat that average, forcing 16 turnovers. 

The Mount was held to 34% shooting from the field while also missing eight free throws. MSM averaged 16 assists-per-game coming into Tuesday’s contest but were held to half that, finishing with eight against the Cats. 

Kentucky was once again without Jacob Toppin, who has now missed the past two games due to a bruised shoulder. Lance Ware did not suit up for the Cats on Tuesday either due to an ankle injury. Ware played just one minute in UK’s season-opening win against Robert Morris. Calipari said post-game that he did not have a timetable for a return for either player. 

Up next for the now 2-1 Wildcats is the final game of the Kentucky Classic against the Ohio Bobcats. OU will waltz into Rupp Arena with a 3-0 record, having averaged 40 points a half. 

Like any opponent, Calipari will not be taking the Bobcats lightly.

“I haven’t watched tape yet … [Ohio] shoot 30 3’s a game and make 12,” he said. “If they make 12 against us we’ll lose.”

The game between Kentucky and Ohio is slated for this Friday, Nov. 19, and is set to tip-off at 7 p.m. EST.