Cats roll past Kentucky State in final exhibition

Published 4:03 pm Friday, November 4, 2022

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Kentucky eclipsed the century mark and closed out its two-game exhibition schedule with a dominating 111-53 win over Division II Kentucky State on Thursday night.

The Cats nearly doubled their offensive production from the exhibition opener against Missouri Western State on Sunday and did so without two of its five starters while also playing with heavy hearts.

Seniors Sahvir Wheeler and Oscar Tshiebwe sat out while nursing minor injuries. Wheeler re-aggravated his knee Sunday night, and Tshiebwe is still recovering from minor knee surgery late last month.

The Wildcats were mourning the loss of Ben Collins, father of Kentucky sophomore Daimion Collins, who passed away Tuesday. Kentucky held a moment of silence for Collins prior to the contest.

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“It hits because he was here,” Kentucky coach John Calipari said. “I feel for Daimion, and I worry about him. … God is good. His last hours were with his son, and he was on the phone with his wife. it puts things in perspective where it needs to be. It’s not fair, I told the team; things are not fair.

“That man sold his (trucking) business so he could be here (to attend games) with his son. Think about that. He was not here full-time, just in and out, but he happened to be in (town on Tuesday). He sat in the upper deck (Sunday night), and he waved to me (from the stands).”

As for Tshiebwe and Wheeler, Calipari offered no timetable for the return of his All-American forward and point guard. Calipari said he would be “shocked” if Tshiebwe played in the season opener against Howard on Monday and “somewhat” surprised if he would be back in the lineup on Nov. 11. As for Wheeler, Calipari gave no timetable on his return.

On the court, the fourth-ranked Wildcats placed six players in double figures, led by Illinois State transfer Antonio Reeves, who poured in a game-high 23 points and sank five of the team’s 12 shots from long range against outmanned Kentucky State.

“We just, you know, we’re going to be a team, for the time being, that you got to make some jump shots. You’re going to have to. And we have the kind of team that can (make shots). … We shot the ball well. We didn’t last game, and we did in this game.”

Jacob Toppin scored 21 points, while CJ Fredrick and Chris Livingston added 14 points each. Cason Wallace scored 12, and Lance Ware collected 10 points and nine rebounds.

Fredrick and Wallace combined for five 3-pointers and gave the Wildcats an offensive boost from the perimeter. The backcourt duo of Wallace and Fredrick combined for 11 of Kentucky’s 19 assists.

“Kentucky State came in here physically and did their thing, but we made shots,” Calipari said. “When you make shots, it all looks different.”