Oscar Tshiebwe, despite fouling out in OT makes his case for being the nation’s best returning player.
The No. The No. 4 Kentucky Wildcats were defeated by Michigan State in double overtime on Tuesday night at the Champions Classic at Gainbridge Fieldhouse.
Both teams struggled offensively early on, but Oscar Tshiebwe, the reigning National Player-of-the Year, returned from preseason knee surgery and changed the flow of the game. He entered the game to a standing ovation, received a standing ovation, and scored quickly on an offensive rebound, giving Kentucky an early lead of 8-4.
Kentucky maintained a slight lead throughout the first half. They led 20-13 at the end of the period after a Sahvir wheeler layup at 8:41. To take a 36-34 lead into the locker room, Michigan State made a three-pointer at the end of the first half.
Although there were many lead changes in the second half, Michigan State managed to score an easy basket at regulation’s end to send the game into overtime.
Kentucky led 67-62 after the Wildcats scored five points in overtime. They also got two free throws by Jacob Toppin and a three pointer from Sahvir wheeler. With just under two minutes left, the Spartans came back to tie it at 67 with a three-pointer.
Wheeler made 1-of-2 free throws to give Cats a one point lead. Wheeler also hit a driving layup that pushed the Cats’ lead to 70-67. With 38.4 seconds remaining, Michigan State scored to make it 70 -69 Kentucky. Tshiebwe was then called for his fifth foul for an illegal screen. The Spartans did not score on their next possession. Wallace was fouled, and Wallace made 1-of-2 free shots with 7.6 seconds to give them a 71-69 lead. Michigan State had an uncontested slam-dunk to force the game into overtime.
The Spartans broke the tie at 76-76 on an alley-oop. With 1:40 remaining, Michigan State took a 78 to 76 lead and then extended their lead to 80 to 76. The Spartans are now at 2-1 and should move up into the Top 25 next week.
These are the four most important things you can learn from a crushing loss.
Oscar Tshiebwe’s season debut gets standing ovation
He was the best college basketball player and made his season debut. He had an immediate impact at both ends of court, scoring and getting key rebound rebounds. He had another double-double and added some jump shots to his offensive prowess at the low post. Oscar is the heartbeat of the Kentucky team. He needs more support on the boards, especially when playing against physical teams. He finished the game with 22 points, 18 rebounds, and four blocks.
Cason Wallace shines at the big stage
On Tuesday night, the freshman point guard performed like a veteran. He was a determined defender and set a school record with eight steals. Ashton Hagans and Rajon Rondo previously shared this single-game record. He scored back-to-back baskets for Texas Player of The Year to break the tie at 42-42. Wildcats led 46-42 in the second half. His ability to distribute the ball and score when necessary was a huge boost to the offense. Bad news: Wallace missed two crucial free throws that were costly.
Sahvir Wheeler is a spark to sluggish half court offense
Wheeler, like Wallace, provided much-needed energy as he used speed and quickness to open up the offense and get to the basket. He was also a great three-pointer shooter. The point guard combination of Wallace and Wheeler helped to stabilize CJ Fredrick’s shooting night and Antonio Reeves’s. After missing time due to a hip injury, Wheeler had eight assists.
In defeat, cold shooting is the kiss of death
Kentucky coach John Calipari wants his team to score 80 points per game. He has also openly stated that he would love to see the Wildcats make 25 threes per match. Both goals were not achieved during regulation because Kentucky couldn’t hit shots and had no other options than to rely on Wheeler and Wallace for penetration to get points. The half-court offense was terrible and Fredrick and Reeves need to make big shots if Kentucky wants to be an elite team. During regulation play, the Wildcats went 5-for-20 in three-point range.
The No. The No. 4 ranked Wildcats will be back in action against South Carolina State on Thursday night.