Kentucky Basketball: Wildcats hose down another SEC foe looking to burn UK

Visiting Kentucky Wildcats fans cheer (Credit: Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports)
Visiting Kentucky Wildcats fans cheer (Credit: Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports) /
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76. 533. Final. 86. 528

Every night the Kentucky basketball team plays with fire in one hostile arena after another across the Southeastern Conference as teams try to burn down Big Blue Nation. Yet once again this Wildcat team found a way to dampen South Carolina’s hopes for an upset 86-76.

Kentucky (20-4, 9-2) struggled in areas it has not been accustomed to such as rebounding, and it wasn’t one player leading igniting the Cats but an army of six players reaching double digits to secure win No. 20 on the season for the Big Blue.

The win was Kentucky’s fifth in a row and ninth out of the last 10 games with a loss in the middle to No. 1 Auburn 80-71. The Tigers’ reign at the top didn’t last long as they fell to Arkansas in overtime.

Auburn (22-2, 10-1) is just a single game ahead of Kentucky in the SEC standings but has a cushy rest of the schedule so look for the two to potentially meet the SEC Tournament Championship.

Another foe looking to take down Kentucky basketball ends up soaking in a loss

But in Columbia on Tuesday night Kentucky again was forced to fight off another conference foe looking for an upset. UK Coach John Calipari doesn’t do well in Colonial Life Arena having lost four times there in his time at Kentucky. He undoubtedly did not want another night of recurring horrors as the sound of “Sandstorm” swirled in his head.

He watched his starting point guard Sahvir Wheeler again come away with zero baskets for the third straight game while turning it over five times and handing out 11 assists. Bizarre.

Mr. energy off the bench Jacob Toppin reeled off 10 points in the first half only to roll an ankle with a minute to play and never returned.

Oscar Tshiebwe was getting schooled on the boards in the opening half but came to life in the second half to notch another double-double night with 18 points, 14 rebounds, three blocks, two steals, and two assists.

Once again Kentucky had to dig deep, play a very physical game that wasn’t eye-catching, but in the end, they notched another win as they marched toward March and the madness.

Here are some quick takeaways.