Dominant first half pace No. 9 Kentucky to 85-57 win over Central Michigan


Kentucky Wildcats guard TyTy Washington Jr. (3) passes the ball during the UK vs. Central Michigan men’s basketball game on Monday, Nov. 29, 2021, at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky. UK won 85-57. Photo by Michael Clubb | Staff

Hunter Shelton

Kentucky claimed its sixth consecutive victory on Monday, drubbing the Central Michigan Chippewas 85-57 in Rupp Arena.  

The Wildcats blitzed CMU from the jump, turning in 51 points at halftime, the highestscoring half for UK since Nov. 21, 2018, against Winthrop.  

Oscar Tshiebwe was once again dominant, finishing with 20 points and 16 rebounds, both of which led all players 

“[Oscar] was better today,” UK head coach John Calipari said.  

Tshiebwe shot 6-8 from the floor while cashing in eight of 11 tries from the free-throw line on Monday. On the boards, Tshiebwe collected seven of his 16 rebounds on the offensive glass.  

“[Tshiebwe] is a guy that impacts the game…without ever needing the ball,” CMU head coach Tony Barbee said.  

Monday night was a homecoming of sorts for Barbee, who returned to Lexington after being an assistant on Calipari’s staff for the past seven seasons 

“Those guys are family,” Barbee said. “The coaching staff, the players who were here with me previously, we’re all family, we’ll always be family.” 

Barbee’s Chippewas were shut down in the first half, scoring just 25 points on 33 percent shooting. The Wildcats pounced on CMU miscues, forcing eight Chippewa turnovers in the first 20 minutes 

UK turned the ball over just six times on Monday, a season low for the Cats. Calipari, while happy with the lack of giveaways, knows that they wil come with the aggression that he desires his squad to have: 

“12 or 11,” Calipari said when asked how many turnovers he would like his team to average a game 

The proprietor of three of UK’s six turnovers against CMU was star point guard Sahvir Wheeler. Wheeler came into Monday’s game leading the nation in assists per game, averaging 9.2 a contest.  

Finishing with just seven points and six assists, the three miscues appear to be a bit bigger of a blemish than normal. 

“I don’t want to see three [turnovers] from my point guard if we only have six,” Calipari said.  

Despite the off night, Calipari is well aware of the caliber of player that Wheeler can be: 

“I think he’s playing as well as anybody in the country,” Calipari said. “The reason is he’s disruptive defensively, he’s playing with speed, he’s making us play fast, he makes good decisions, but he’s still got a ways to go.” 

TyTy Washington Jr excelled once again, finishing with 15 points, six rebounds and two assists.  

Through seven games, Washington leads the team, averaging 14.9 points a game. His 36 rebounds are good enough for second-best on the team behind Tshiebwe, while his 20 assists trail only Wheeler. 

“[TyTy] is comfortable with who he is as a player,” Calipari said. “He’s not there to say ‘I can prove that I can do this,’ he’s not playing like ‘I need to get some baskets now,’ he doesn’t play that way.” 

The Wildcats were near full strength in numbers on Monday, as Davion Mintz was the lone player missing on the UK bench. Mintz has missed the past three games due to illness.  

Keion Brooks Jr returned after missing one game, also due to illness. Brooks finished with nine points and four rebounds in just 18 minutes against the Chippewas. 

Although he retained all but one player on his roster against CMU, Calipari cited how his team was banged up coming into Monday’s matchup: 

“Daimion [Collins] didn’t do the shootaround because he had a high fever. Keion, we didn’t know if he’d play until right before the game. Lance [Ware,] I think his ankle is still bothering him…Bryce [Hopkins,] his back has been bothering him.” 

Luckily for UK, an eight-day break awaits the Cats, as they won’t return to action until Dec. 7, where they will finish off a seven-game homestand in Rupp Arena against the Southern Jaguars. 

“We’re getting a little break and it comes at a great time, because we’re sick,” Calipari said.  

Tip-off against Southern is slated for 7 p.m. E.T and will be broadcasted on the SEC Network.