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Bob Dixon

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Go Big Blue!

PENNY'S PERSPECTIVE: 'New' Wildcats Stop LSU 74-71

By Penny Deatrick


Kentucky extended its homecourt winning streak to 28 games with a 74-71 victory over the LSU

Tigers Tuesday night in Rupp Arena.


For the second straight game, UK started Sahvir Wheeler, Cason Wallace, Chris Livingston,

Jacob Toppin and Oscar Tshiebwe.


Kentucky coach John Calipari used the word “deliberate” to describe the offensive style for his

team. Not necessarily slower play but more deliberate and intentional. Utilizing the same

starting lineup and cutting player rotation result in a more flowing and in sync offense. The

other word Coach Cal used to describe any issues with UK’s performance against LSU was

“fixable” when discussing the aspects of the shot clock winding down or pulling away at the end

of games.


Jacob Toppin of Kentucky shoots against LSU Tuesday night at Rupp Arena. (UK Athletics Photo by Grace Bradley)

“That stuff is all fixable,” said Calipari. “I was stunned that Sahvir (Wheeler) missed that free throw. Stunned. If you were in our practices when I stopped practice and we are on the baseline and you’ve got to shoot them one-on-one, he walks up there so calm, bang, bang, bang. That’s why I was saying, ‘Throw it to him. Let him foul you.’ And he missed it.”


Calipari continued, “You know what, we made enough to win the game. We’re still learning; I am. Just be patient …. they are trying, I enjoy going to every practice.”


When asked about how the game flow and being in sync had occurred, Calipari responded that the team is scrimmaging at least an hour the day before a game. Even though he hasn’t done this before, he says this team needs it.


On not finishing as well against LSU as he would have liked, Calipari said, “We’ve just got to be

clearer in how we’re going to finish games. I’ve made it clear in how in how we’re playing

offensively, the flow of the game. I’ve made it clear and easy and narrow.”


When LSU coach Matt McMahon began his press conference, he praised Kentucky’s

performance.


“Credit to Kentucky. I thought it was a heck of a college basketball game,” he said. “Both teams

were probably better offensively than expected. Give them credit for finding ways to win; they hit

some tough shots there late. We were finally able to get some stops in the last eight minutes

and close the gap on the glass a little bit. They just make it so tough on you with Oscar

(Tshiebwe) in there on the glass and they hit some tough shots to win the game.


“I found out a lot about our team tonight. The character, the toughness, the things that need to

be the building blocks to how we build this great LSU program moving forward.”


Tshiebwe said the Wildcats need to come out with energy. “It is a mindset because we know

we lost a couple of games because of how we started,” he commented.


On finishing games, Tshiebwe told his teammates, “We just have to slow down and run good

plays. Some of our younger guys at the end when it gets tough their mind starts running too

fast. They just need to slow down and make plays. Coach is calling good plays and helping us

make good plays.”


Toppin provided a huge boost especially in the second half, scoring 17 of his 21 points and 11

of UK’s last 16 points. Toppin also took over guarding LSU’s KJ Williams.


Tshiebwe notched his 8th double-double of the season, scoring 19 points and grabbing 16

rebounds.


Wallace added 14 points and four assists, and along with Tshiebwe, played all 40 minutes.

Wheeler contributed 11 points, 6 rebounds and 9 assists.


Personal Perspectives:

1. The offensive looked sharper. More intentional and crisp passing leading to made baskets

and players looking comfortable on offense.


2. Toppin displaying self-confidence, leadership and positive energy that directly impact other

players and the outcome of the game. So proud of his willingness to share his personal

struggles and how he is working through them. That takes a LOT of courage.


3. A win is a win. We needed to pull out a close game and get a conference win.


UK next plays Alabama in Tuscaloosa on Saturday. The 1 p.m. (ET) game will be

televised on ESPN.


Penny Deatrick is a contributing writer from Louisville, Ky.

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