Kentucky tested in 80-71 victory against Miles College


Kentucky Wildcats forward Lance Ware (55), forward Keion Brooks Jr. (12) and guard Kellan Grady (31) walk off the court after the UK vs. Miles College men’s basketball game on Friday, Nov. 5, 2021, at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky. Kentucky won 80-71. Photo by Michael Clubb | Staff

Hunter Shelton

No. 10 Kentucky scraped by Miles College on Friday night in Rupp Arena, winning 80-71 in the Cats final exhibition game of the season.  

Four Wildcats finished the game in double figures, led by 15 points from both TyTy Washington and Sahvir Wheeler 

Miles shot the lights out at Rupp, connecting on 15 3-point attempts, 11 of which came in the first half. The Golden Bears led the Cats 46-39 at halftime. 

“The things that [Miles] did, perimeter wise, I didn’t expect them to make this many 3’s,” head coach John Calipari said.  

Five different Golden Bears connected on multiple 3-pointers, headlined by four treys from Roger Davis.  

Kentucky made their fair share of shots beyond the arch, shooting 11-19 from deep. Kellan Grady led the Cats, shooting 4-4 from downtown. 

For Grady, the Davidson transfer knew after he connected on his first deep ballthe flood gates would open.  

“Once the first one goes down, that’s always good for a shooter,” Grady said. “We knew that they were going to collapse a lot on drives. I had a really good shooting session, I was just ready to go.” 

Grady connected on just one deep ball in the Cats’ first exhibition against Kentucky WesleyanDespite the early struggles, Grady’s teammates have faith in the graduate student’s jumper. 

“The last few practices, he’s been working hard on his shot, getting ready for this next game and it showed,” Jacob Toppin said.  

Grady’s work ethic isn’t just paying off for himself, the Boston native is setting an example for his teammates around him. 

“Kellan brings a level of veteran leadership,” Wheeler said. “He’s more of a lead by example kind of guy, and we need that. We need him to play efficient, play confident and play loose, because he’s a threat.” 

Wheeler, who made two 3’s of his own, was providing tenacious defense against the Golden Bears all night.  

“I thought Sahvir, defensively was ridiculous,” Calipari said. 

Miles head coach Fred Watson referred to the Georgia transfer’s defense as “professional-level,” calling Wheeler a “pest.” 

Wheeler, who swiped two steals on Friday, relishes in his defensive role: 

“That’s a great compliment,” Wheeler said about being a pest. “That means I’m doing my job at a good level.” 

Wheeler and Washington were the only two Cats who logged more than thirty minutes on the court against Miles. 

Calipari noted that if the two guards can stay out of foul trouble, then they will consistently see that number of minutes. “They’re just better,” Calipari said. 

Jacob Toppin saw 16 minutes on the floor in his season debut, following a shoulder injury.  

The junior scored 12 points on 5-7 shooting, leading all forwards in scoring.  

“I thought Jacob played with more energy, more spirit than some of the other guys, which means, I may not start him, but he’s going to go in if he plays that way,” Calipari said.  

Toppin knows that with playing time not coming easy, he had to take advantage of his opportunity tonight.  

“Like everyone knows, I was coming back from injury, so I was the eleventh man,” Toppin said. “Once my time came, I had to perform and that’s what I did.” 

Following Friday’s close victory, Kentucky now must prepare for their regular-season opener on Nov. 9, a top-ten clash against a fellow blueblood, No. 9 Duke. 

“They’ve got terrific players…it’ll be a hard game,” Calipari said.  

Calipari knows that although his team didn’t perform to their standard tonight, he has no reason to worry about the season ahead: 

“I’m not discouraged, probably not encouraged, but we’re probably where we need to be right now.”