Sahvir Wheeler shines in No. 10 Kentucky’s win over Albany


Kentucky Wildcats guard Sahvir Wheeler (2) dribbles the ball up the court during the UK vs. Albany men’s basketball game on Monday, Nov. 22, 2021, at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky. UK won 86-61. Photo by Michael Clubb | Staff

Cole Parke

No. 10 Kentucky defeated the Albany Great Danes 86-61 in Rupp Arena to extend their winning streak to four games. 

Despite some lackadaisical play down the stretch, the final result saw Kentucky record their third 20-plus point win of the season.

One player who made his presence known in the win was Georgia transfer Sahvir Wheeler. 

Wheeler scored 15 points, notching four rebounds, seven assists, and a steal in the process. Wheeler was a consistent presence on the court, playing 39 out of 40 minutes, taking just one minute-long break in the first half.

“I didn’t feel tired, and I certainly hope I didn’t look tired at the end,” Wheeler joked after the game. “I actually subbed myself out in the first half just to give myself a little breather. I feel good. I’ve been making sure I’m taking care of my body and icing myself and getting into the cryo-therapy chamber after practice to recover myself a little faster.”

The 39-minute game marks the longest Wheeler’s played in his collegiate career at Kentucky after transferring from the Bulldogs in the offseason. Despite carrying the expectations of being an integral piece to his new team, Wheeler boasted the transition has barely phased him.

“It hasn’t been a big thing for me,” Wheeler said. “I think my game has always been fast-paced and relied on using my speed to my advantage, and here everyone else can do it too. I think that’s the beauty of it, we have multiple playmakers and multiple guys who can get their shots and create for others. I think we’re a really good team that shares the ball, there’s no ego here.”

Wheeler’s speed with the ball came in handy on Monday against the Great Danes, allowing him to score 10 of his 15 points off layups as a result of his quick drives to the basket. Albany stars De’Vondre Perry and Trey Hutcheson touched on his speed after the game. 

“It was really just the speed [of Wheeler],” Perry said. “Once they got the rebound it seemed like they were already down the court. Coach told us before the game that they can close space really quickly and it was hard to prepare for that speed and length in practice because we just don’t have it.” 

Despite the strong positive numbers in his favor, Wheeler also had five of the Wildcats’ 17 turnovers in the game. 

Turnovers were a point of emphasis for both Wheeler and head coach John Calipari when deciding to come to Lexington after he averaged 4.5 a game at Georgia.

“I think it’s just a little bit of sloppy play,” Wheeler said. “Their team was playing really hard so maybe we got rushed a little bit, but [Coach] told us we can’t be doing that, especially only forcing 10 [turnovers of our own] against a team who usually averages 20.”

Wheeler knows, despite the large margin of victory, Kentucky has to continue to improve going forward:

“They played us really hard and made us compete, It just shows we’ve got to play a little bit harder to finish out our points and create those leads earlier in the game for when we play harder opponents going forward.”

The Wildcats return to play this Friday, Nov. 26, to battle the North Florida Ospreys in Rupp Arena, continuing their home stretch. Wheeler has been in the starting rotation for Kentucky every game of the season thus far, and with his performance on Monday, that doesn’t appear to be changing in the near future.