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Interior dominance leads Kentucky to another runaway win

Adam Luckett08/11/22

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Article written by:On3 imageAdam Luckett

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Over 40 minutes of basketball, Kentucky overwhelmed the Dominican Republic on Wednesday night with its sheer size and athleticism. The result was the same against Monterrey Tech in a Thursday night thrashing at Baha Mar.

The game was never in doubt as Kentucky smothered their exhibition competition with a dominant interior performance. KSR is here to dive into the box score and see how the game was one as the Big Blue Bahamas tour is now halfway over.

Paint production

As soon as both teams took the floor, the size differential was glaring. However, you have to take advantage of that when the opportunity presents itself. Kentucky did that and more in the 102-40 victory.

The Wildcats scored 60 of their 102 points in the paint while shooting 29 of 31 (93.5%) at the rim. Oscar Tshiebwe was once again a main in the middle with 10 points, but his eight offensive rebounds set the tone. With an offensive rebound rate of 61.5 percent, most missed shots turned into second shot attempts for Kentucky as the offense extended possessions.

Due to this dominance, Kentucky logged an explosive 1.48 points per possession as the SEC squad cruised to another exhibition win.

Sahvir Wheeler was the engine

Game one did not go great for Kentucky’s senior point guard. That wasn’t the case on game two in the Bahamas.

Former Georgia transfer Sahvir Wheeler finished the night with 14 points and 10 assists as Kentucky was able to create consistent good looks with their senior lead guard setting the pace and running the show for John Calipari’s squad.

Wheeler is one of the fastest players in college basketball, and when the small guard is pushing the pace Kentucky can be explosive in transition. When the lefty is able to play downhill he can be very fun to watch.

We saw that fun player on Thursday night.

Chris Livingston flashes

Through four halves of basketball in the Bahamas, the biggest revelation has been Chris Livingston. The Oak Hill Academy (Va.) product was again very active on the glass with 10 rebounds and flashed some efficient scoring with 14 points on six field goal attempts.

In the small sample size over the last two nights, Livingston has flashed a good-looking shooting stroke to go along with multi-positional athleticism. The forward looks good running the floor, and the freshman has played under control to this point.

If Livingston can continue to hit shots from three-point range, that would allow Kentucky to play big at the three while keeping some semblance of floor spacing on offense. The Cats will want to play some bully ball this season by dominating the game at the rim, and the top-25 recruit will play a role in that as a big wing.

Stats that stood out

— Kentucky held Monterrey Tech to just 40 points in 72 possessions and forced 16 turnovers. The opponent was severely limited, but the Wildcats have a ton of defensive potential thanks to their size and athleticism at all five positions.

Adou Thiero finished the night with 13 points and six rebounds in 22 minutes as the freshman looks like he belongs on the floor with Kentucky. We’ll see how everything develops, but the early returns are promising on the three-star recruit.

— We haven’t seen a barrage of three-point makes yet, but veteran CJ Fredrick looked healthy on Thursday. The combo guard made plays off the deck shooting 3 of 4 from two-point range while being active on defense. The Cincinnati native will play an important role on the team. That role can grow if Fredrick can be more than a spot-up three-point shooter.

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2022-09-24