Talk about a role reversal watching Kentucky basketball shut down Ohio

Kentucky Wildcats head coach John Calipari and Oscar Tshiebwe (Credit: Jordan Prather-USA TODAY Sports)
Kentucky Wildcats head coach John Calipari and Oscar Tshiebwe (Credit: Jordan Prather-USA TODAY Sports) /
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Final. 59. 2253. 77. 528

Raise your hands if I told you that Kentucky basketball would win a catfight game with Ohio when the Wildcats two leading scorers coming into the game would score a combined zero points and role players coming to the rescue in a 77-59 win.



I didn’t think so and to be fair no one out there raised their hands.

Kentucky basketball rolls to third straight win relying on role players

It quickly became apparent not even two minutes into the game that is what No. 13 ranked UK would need to do as big man Oscar Tschiebwe was called for two fouls in the first 65 seconds of the game and headed to the bench until the second half.

He played nearly the entire second half and finished with no points but pulled down 10 rebounds. He remains the nation’s best rebounder even after Friday’s game.

Then there is Kellan Grady who could have taken over, but missed the only two shots he took and had a single rebound in 20 minutes.

Would it be Daimion Collins to rescue Big O?

Nope, he would take one shot that he hit, grab a rebound, and had three early fouls playing just eight total minutes. His backup Lance Ware sat out another game with an injury.

Time for coach John Calipari to do what he had to and go small and know your role. Who is ready to shine.

Step forward upperclassmen Keion Brooks Jr, Davion Mintz, and Sahvir Wheeler, and it’s your time TyTy Washington for your break-out game.

In return, it was nearly career nights for each.

Calipari was asked by the media afterward about their role and playing time.

"“So if someone else plays well, you play less. Let me say that team, I almost thought, what in the world did I do playing these guys? You need tune-up games. Some teams only play tune-up games. We don’t. But, we do have some tune-ups. We have to have them on the schedule. But this game really showed us something. You know, I thought we got into their legs, at least that’s what we were trying to do. We keep flying up and down the court. So proud of guys. We out rebounded them by a bunch. 15 turnovers. Three of our guys had 12.”"

The first half was just ugly for Kentucky as they didn’t seem to know what to do with their big man on the bench and the visiting Bobcats doing what Cal said they would do and make things difficult with their shooting.

Brooks staked them to an early 2-0 lead, that was short-lived with the Ohio 3-pointer to follow, and it would take the Wildcats 10 minutes to finally tie it at 24-24. Ohio regained the lead and Kentucky needed a 3 pointer from Mintz with 1:04 left in the half to regain the lead.

The second half was all Kentucky (3-1) despite Ohio (3-1) hanging around until about 8 minutes left when they seemed to grow weary despite Kentucky playing just 9 players.

What seemed like an eternity to finally arrive Kentucky finally got the run they had been waiting for going on a 9-0 run to take its biggest lead of the game at 57-48. That was courtesy of a Brooks jumper, Wheeler floater, Washington 3-pointer, and a Mintz layup with 11:11 left.

When all was said and done Big Blue had outscored the Bobcats 17-4.

Game over.

Kentucky took the Bobcats to task on the board winning the battle 53 to 17.

So just how valuable were the roles they played. Let’s take a quick look.