Takeaways From Kentucky’s Win vs. Howard

@KentuckyMBB on Twitter

Takeaways From Kentucky’s Win vs. Howard

Basketball

Takeaways From Kentucky’s Win vs. Howard

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@KentuckyMBB on Twitter

Kentucky began the 2022 college basketball season Monday night with a resounding victory over Howard by a score of 95-63. You can never take too much away from an early season victory against a lower-level opponent. But there were some really positive things that took place in Rupp Arena without key names such as Oscar Tshiebwe, Daimion Collins, and Sahvir Wheeler. 

The Freshmen Looked Comfortable

Kentucky has four freshmen who are expected to make an impact this season. Cason Wallace started at point guard in place of the injured Sahvir Wheeler. He did not disappoint in his Kentucky debut. The freshman from Dallas, Texas finished the night with 15 points, eight rebounds, and nine assists on an efficient 7/11 shooting performance. He was in control all night long. The kid is a smooth operator on offense and an elite defender on the other end. 

Fellow freshman, Chris Livingston, joined Wallace in the starting lineup Monday night. His numerical stats won’t blow you away, but he made an impact. He was diving on the floor for loose balls, grabbing impressive rebounds, and he had an efficient 4/6 shooting performance. He needs to improve on the defensive side, but still an impressive performance, nonetheless. 

Two guys who were brought in late in the recruiting cycle were guard Adou Thiero and center Ugonna Onyenso. They were brought in as long-term projects. They may not be as “long-term” as originally thought. Onyenso is going to be one of the best shot-blockers in college basketball for as long as he’s here. He tallied four blocks in 20 minutes off the bench. He had some nice finishes around the rim as well. There was not much on the stat sheet for Thiero, but he played well too with five rebounds and made four of his six free throws. They are still a work in progress, but I think they’re further along in the process than even Kentucky expected.

CJ Fredrick and Antonio Reeves are Flamethrowers

CJ Fredrick and Antonio Reeves transferred to Kentucky with two goals: shoot the ball and score points. They did that in spades Monday night. Fredrick started the game and scored 20 points on an efficient 6/9 from the field. Reeves came off the bench and added 22 points for the Wildcats. The sharpshooting duo combined to go 8/17 from three and 14/25 from the field. Should they continue this for the rest of the season, Kentucky’s ceiling will be extremely high. 

 

This Team Has Elite Depth 

Kentucky played eight players tonight that are expected to play and contribute in different ways. Not among those eight were Tshiebwe, the reigning National Player of the Year, the starting point guard, Wheeler, and Collins. Tough decisions are going to have to be made regarding playing time, but I am sure coach John Calipari welcomes those tough decisions. 

They are two or three deep at every position. The Wildcats have extreme versatility, with players offering different skills. Onyenso is an elite defender and shot blocker. Tshiebwe is an elite rebounder and scorer around the rim. Wheeler and Wallace may not be the best shooters at the guard positions, but Fredrick and Reeves more than make up for it. There are 10 or 11 players that Calipari can put in and feel fine with whoever is out there. Not many teams have that luxury. 

The number four ranked Wildcats continue their season on Friday night at Rupp Arena when they take on the Dukes from Duquesne. 

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