Kentucky Basketball: Wheeler led Wildcats crush Tar Heels from tip to horn

Davion Mintz #10, Keion Brooks Jr. #12, Oscar Tshiebwe #34, Jacob Toppin #0 and TyTy Washington Jr. #3 of the Kentucky Wildcats . (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Davion Mintz #10, Keion Brooks Jr. #12, Oscar Tshiebwe #34, Jacob Toppin #0 and TyTy Washington Jr. #3 of the Kentucky Wildcats . (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images) /
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You win some you lose some in Las Vegas and on Saturday in the CBS Sports Classic the Kentucky basketball team hit the jackpot, while North Carolina was left humiliated and broke by a score of 98-69.

This Wildcat team was the polar opposite of the one we saw last week in a pathetic effort in a

Kentucky opened the season with a 79-71 loss to Duke and followed that by winning 7 straight uninspiring games over weak competition leading up to the 66-62 loss to the Irish. We didn’t know what quite to make of this team that was supposed to be much better given the experience it has on the roster.

Coach John Calipari said the practice would be more like a football one preparing for the physical play that Ohio State would put up. Wait a minute scratch that Ohio State was supposed to be the opponent but didn’t make it due to Covid.

Kentucky basketball fully dominates Tar Heels behind leader Wheeler

North Carolina’s foe UCLA also was forced to stay home due to the Covid issue so it came down to two of the winningest college basketball programs facing off again just like last season in the same CBS Sports Classic in Cleveland.

However, North Carolina’s inside presence was supposed to be as equally imposing. Turns out that wasn’t the case as Kentucky thoroughly dominated inside and out both in shooting and on the boards getting contributions across the roster.

Kentucky cleaned the boards on both ends of the court finishing with a 44-26 overall advantage claiming 27 on the offense and 17 on the defensive end while limiting UNC to just six offensive rebounds for the game.

After misfiring on 17 of 19 attempts from 3-point range last week they made 8 of 15 against the Tar Heels who themselves made just 1 of 15 attempts from behind the arc.

In the paint, Kentucky dropped in 54 points to UNC’s 36 while the Cats sprinted to 14 fast break points taking advantage of 8 steals and forcing 12 turnovers, and converting missed shots into 15 second-chance points.

This is the Kentucky basketball team we have been waiting for all season long to make an appearance and it took a trip to Fabulous Las Vegas to do it.

They played loose, fast, efficient, smart, and more importantly seemed in sync with each other and having fun.

Watching big man Oscar Tshiebwe on the bench near the end of the game laughing and dancing was proof Kentucky has arrived a bit late to the party but none the less here are the Wildcats.

Sahvir Wheeler led Kentucky with a season-high 26 points, while Tshiebwe recorded his eighth double-double of the year with 16 points and 12 rebounds. Super senior guard Kellan Grady regained his form scoring 18 points while junior forward Keion Brooks chipped in with 10 points.

Kentucky needed this win in the worst way and made a huge statement with this game they so badly needed to shout to the world.

Here are the three quick takeaways from the victory.