Kentucky Basketball: Cats scratch, claw Bulldogs behind Tschiebwe’s 21 and 22

Sahvir Wheeler of the Kentucky Wildcats(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Sahvir Wheeler of the Kentucky Wildcats(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) /
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The Kentucky basketball team had their back against the wall with fouls and walking wounded, but they had a pair of weapons Mississippi State couldn’t silence. Oscar Tshiebwe went for 21 points and 22 rebounds and Kellan Grady delivered dagger 3-pointers late to stave off the Bulldogs 82-74 in overtime.

Big Blue Nation had Rupp Arena rocking till the end and at home till after 11 pm but it was worth the wait watching the Wildcats scratch, claw, fight and never surrender giving coach John Calipari his 800th career win.

There were so many storylines it would be tough to zero in on one key one, but just the fact that Kentucky after coming up short at now No. 1 ranked Auburn on Saturday needed all of its troops against Mississippi State who fought back to force overtime late.

Earlier Tuesday it was reported and later confirmed that TyTy Washington would miss the game after injuring his ankle against Auburn. They did thankfully have Sahvir Wheeler who was also injured in that game after crashing into a pair of hard screens.

Kentucky basketball use warrior team effort despite injuries for win

He however was saddled with a pair of early fouls with 13:40 to play and the lineup got even stranger with little-used Bryce Hopkins coming in.

Hopkins did end the half with a slam at the buzzer that gave Kentucky a 37-24 halftime lead and his only points of the game despite Wheeler and Keion Brooks each having two fouls and Davion Mintz three.

All of Kentucky fans watched as the battle heated up but nearly cringed with nine minutes to play in regulation when Jacob Toppin rolled and ankle driving to the basket and laid on the court in pain. He would head to the UK bench limping badly.

One minute later Tsheibwe was added to the wounded twisting his ankle and he and Toppin headed to the UK locker room.

However, the warrior pair returned shortly thereafter with Tshiebwe sprinting past the bench to the scorer’s table wanting back in.

Calipari was asked about all the wounded players and where had they all gone.

"“I told one of the staff, ‘Go back and get Oscar. Where is he? Go back and get him.’ Again, I said this today: The game ended, and I didn’t ask Oscar what was up. I looked up at Jacob [Toppin] and teased him, ‘Do you have a blown-out Achilles? You went down like a sniper hit you.’ Because you slipped? Embarrassed? Why? What happened here? Then I looked at TyTy [Washington] and he had said, ‘Do you think you’re going to play this month?’ And that was about it. I didn’t ask him what hurt or what happened. I’m not the trainer. I don’t do it. I leave it and they will tell me later what the deal is. So, I don’t. In other words, I don’t know.”"

That is the fight this team has and is what makes them so special. They don’t mail it in no matter the circumstances.

Every night in the Southeastern Conference is a grind-it-out game. On the same night that Georgia beats Alabama and an awful Missouri team takes Auburn to the wire before falling.

Its a war and even a depleted Kentucky squad stood its ground, defended, and found a way to win.

Let’s hope the Wildcat Warriors will be healthy come Saturday when they go to face Kansas.

But for three quick takeaways.