Kentucky Wildcats Latest News

The Wildcats began the season in disappointing fashion as they dropped a 79-71 decision to Duke before they went on a seven-game winning streak. But all those good vibrations came to a screeching halt when they traveled to the home of the Fighting Irish and were upset, 66-62, in South Bend.

But one Wildcats' player who didn’t disappoint was Oscar Tshiebwe who connected on 11-of-14 from the field, grabbed seven boards, led all players with 25 points, and had three steals and two blocks to end the evening. The 6’9” junior has been a monster for the Cats this season as Tshiebwe is averaging 16.3 points, 14.4 rebounds, and nearly two blocks per game.

After the loss to Notre Dame, head coach, John Calipari, addressed the media and began by expressing his heartfelt concern for the victims of the tornados that touched down around the state, costing at least 70 lives and countless damage to homes and businesses.

“The Commonwealth was really dealt an unbelievable blow,” Calipari said. “It’s going to take decades to fix.”

“We went to the Grotto this morning before we shot around, and we talked about it after the game,” Calipari said. “We play basketball. This is someone losing their mother, working in the warehouse, working for Amazon, and all of a sudden this happens.”

Change of Plans

Kentucky’s next opponent on the docket was supposed to be Ohio State, however, an outbreak of COVID-19 has forced the Buckeyes to cancel the contest. That’s when John Calipari went looking for a new opponent and he may have found one in North Carolina. As of this writing, the Tar Heels are supposed to meet UCLA on Saturday but the Bruins have also been racked with a COVID outbreak and may have to cancel their game with UNC.

If this occurs, the two rivals will meet at the CBS Sports Classic in Las Vegas and it’s an opportunity to maintain a schedule playing top teams. Up to this point, Kentucky has faced only two threatening opponents and lost to both of them. Nevertheless, they are ranked 21st in the nation and could ascend the ladder if they begin knocking down the big boys.

It should be noted that the schedule won’t get any easier for the Wildcats as the NCAAB odds in all of their previous games, except the opener against Duke, have seen them as favorites. But not just favorites, big favorites because the caliber of the competition has been so weak. Consider the following opponents with the point spread in parentheses; Robert Morris (-22 ½), Mount Saint Mary’s (-26), Ohio (-12), Albany (-27), North Florida (-25 ½), Central Michigan (-32), Southern University A&M (-30 ½), and the loss to Notre Dame (-4 ½).

That schedule is weak sauce for sure but Kentucky only covered the point spread in three of those eight contests, not including another loss and failed cover against Duke in the season opener. And while winning is the only thing that is important to Calipari and his charges, those who do like to plunk down a few bucks on these college hoops games should take note that the Cats have underperformed at the betting windows thus far.

Kentucky Shooters Failing

After last season’s disappointing 8-9 record, John Calipari decided he needed to recruit shooters. After all, the NBA has become a deep shooter’s league and whatever the pros do, the colleges soon follow. Three-point shots are all the rage and if you can’t hit beyond the arc then you better play an immaculate brand of defense or dominate the paint. There is little in between these days and the Kentucky coach is changing with the times.

After last season, Calipari said, “Guys that were drafted in the first 10 picks seven, eight years ago would be second-round picks because they can’t shoot the ball. It’s changing right before us.”

And to that end, the coach brought back the Wildcats’ two best snipers, Davion Mintz and Dontaie Allen, recruited the winner of the three-point contest at the Iverson Classic All-Star game, TyTy Washington, and wooed transfers Kellan Grady and C.J. Fredrick to Lexington.

The three top guns on the outside this year have been Washington, Grady, and Mintz with the latter struggling from beyond the arc, shooting just 30.4 percent in a backup role. The triumvirate has taken over 56 percent of the team’s three-point shots and has connected on just over 37 percent.

After the 66-62 loss to the Irish, Notre Dame head coach, Mike Brey said, “I think we were very aware of their threats out there. We really chased them off, which leaves you a little naked with (Oscar Tshiebwe). But, it’s two. Those count two. We’ve lived by that for like 22 years or something. If they hit five 3s, it’s over. Chasing the shooters off stuff was really good.”