SHANE SHACKLEFORD: Kentucky Warms Up For Postseason After 96-78 Win Over Ole Miss Wednesday Night
The Kentucky Wildcats ran their end of the year win streak to four Wednesday night, Feb. 28 with a 96-78 victory over Ole Miss on Senior Night at Rupp Arena.
The Cats (21-9 10-7 SEC) were finally to get on track offensively after the Rebels tried to disrupt the flow of the game through some rough play and changing defenses what seemed like every trip UK made up the floor on offense.
It was apparent that the Rebels (12-18 5-12 SEC) were going to be chippy with the young Wildcats when Ole Miss forward Marcanvis Hymon was whistled for not one, but two technical fouls in the first two minutes. All told, there were five technical fouls called in the game. UK wasn’t immune to the technical bug as forwards Nick Richards and Wenyen Gabriel were hit with one each.
Ole Miss played with energy and a definite sense that they had nothing to lose against UK. The team recently saw their long time coach Andy Kennedy first announce he wouldn’t be returning to Oxford at the end of the season before deciding to leave the team altogether recently. Defensively, the Rebels played a huge mix of zones and tried to clog passing and driving lanes in hopes to rattle UK. But once UK got their bearings, the Cats got hot and stayed hot for most of the game.
Kentucky shot a blistering 50 percent (31 of 62) from the field and 44 percent (8 of 18) from behind the arc. The Cats also took advantage of numerous Ole Miss fouls by shooting 26 of 35 from the line for 74 percent.
Big Blue placed five players in double figures, led by Kevin Knox’s 22 points. Guards Quade Green and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander scored 18 and 17, respectively. Forward Wenyen Gabriel had 15, and PJ Washington had 10.
The Cats outrebounded the Rebels 43-35, led once again by forward Jarred Vanderbilt (pictured). Vanderbilt continued his all out assault on the glass for the Cats, pulling down 11 rebounds.
The Cats led at the half 50-42 and never trailed after that, even though Ole Miss kept firing away from everywhere. The Rebels took an astounding 104 shots from all over the Rupp floor, 30 from the three- point line. All told, the Rebs were 30-74 from the field and made nine of their 30 three-point attempts.
With the win, UK coach John Calipari ran his record to 150-8 at home all time and is now 270-62 at Kentucky.
The Cats hope to continue their strong finish to the season Saturday afternoon against rival Florida in Gainesville. Tipoff is set for 12 noon ET on CBS.
Shane Shackleford is a sports columnist for several media outlets. You can contact him via email at email@example.com, Twitter @shack_daddy_1, or Facebook.
UK Athletics Photo by Chet White