Sometimes two teams don’t belong together on the same basketball court, and with all due respect, that was the case on Thursday night The University of Kentucky hosted Tec De Monterrey from Monterrey, Mexico in a friendly preseason competition on the beautiful island of New Providence in the Bahamas.
It was Kentucky’s second exhibition game in two nights after a well-rounded debut on Wednesday, and the new breed of Wildcats seemed unstoppable again in Game 2 with a near-flawless win. 102-40, which has fueled fan base overreactions. The Big Blue Nation doesn’t intend to overreact or raise undue expectations from these summer shows, but when college basketball’s most passionate fan base watches Kentucky beat two teams by a total of 210-96, it’s hard to contain the anticipation of the, what’s coming to dampen 2022-23 ahead, even if they’re playing against a team similar to your local YMCA league.
So let’s overreact uncompromisingly and speak to more takeaways about what we’ve seen from the team in the Bahamas so far. Sure, the competition wasn’t exactly Gonzaga or Kansas (although it might be a little better than Louisville), but fans and the players themselves can still enjoy the extra basketball and dream big.
A new starting five with a surprising newcomer
In the first exhibition game against the Dominican National Select Team, John Calipari opened the game with an experienced lineup of Sahvir Wheeler, Antonio Reeves, Jacob Toppin, Daimion Collins and Oscar Tshiebwe. He mixed up the order a bit against Tec De Monterrey, slotting in newcomer Adou Thiero for Collins with last night’s other four.
F/C – Oscar Tshiebwe
It’s all part of Caliparis’ plan to play with a different line-up in each half of the four Bahamas games, and Adou Thiero celebrated his first start by going 3-point clear on first possession. The heat check didn’t let up, but he still showed himself from there with 22 minutes played and a 5-of-7 shot clip from the field, taking 13 points with six boards.
Take some time to read how Calipari described his unrated freshman Thursday before the game. Their history goes back a long way.
Lance Ware wasn’t playing
Another note on the squad: Lance Ware did not play due to a minor shoulder injury.
I know at least one person who was disappointed.
Oscar Tshiebwe and Sahvir Wheeler did their thing
After Game 1 last night, we didn’t give much importance to the game of Kentucky’s two returning starters, Oscar Tshiebwe and Sahvir Wheeler, as the fanbase is much more interested in learning more about the newcomers. We know we’re getting rebounds from Tshiebwe and assists from Wheeler, and so far both have picked up where they left off while sharing floor time with the rest of the team.
Tonight, Tshiebwe and Wheeler were at their best with 14 rebounds for Big Oscar and a performance of 14 points and 10 assists from Wheeler. Not to discount those numbers, but during the show Tom Hart said it looks like Tshiebwe will be playing sixth graders.
On Tom’s point, here’s a fun pic:
(Photo: Dr Michael Huang/KSR)
More love for Daimion Collins
Still on the run from the Royal Bahamas Police Force for his double kill against the Dominican team, Daimion Collins showed himself off the bench again in a reserve role for Big Blue Nation with 10 points in the first half.
My favorite part of Collins’ new game, aside from cramming people’s foreheads, is his closeouts on 3-point shooters with both hands outstretched. I wrote about it last night, and tonight his outstretched arms punched an opponent’s outside shot.
Who does that?
We have a favorite for Bahamas MVP.
Final box score
Chris Livingston, one of the two newly minted All-Americans on the team, won’t settle for a place behind veteran Kentucky forwards. The Akron combo forward had another big night with 14 points on 5-of-6 shooting from the field and 10 boards, a double-double after leading the team in rebound and hitting three 3-pointers 24 hours earlier.
With Livingston’s inside-out versatility, he could be a utility knife off the bench for Kentucky, or he could just be one of the better players on the team.
The elephant in the room
Now is not the time to go into depth, but I do note that the excitement surrounding the basketball players was dulled earlier in the day when the conversation took a hard turn toward basketball vs. soccer. Whatever you think of Caliparis’ comments, there’s no denying that it angered his peers across campus and stole the attention of a basketball team that brought plenty of joy to fans with this trip to the Bahamas.
On today’s KSR radio show, we excitedly spent two hours talking about everything that happened in the game against the Dominican Republic. Now tomorrow’s show will be about the unnecessary drama when we should be talking about batting in the Bahamas and excitement in basketball. It’s silly, but you can’t put the toothpaste back in the tube. We are already dipped by rivals. I was in a packed bar full of Cats fans for the game and all they wanted to talk about was Caliparis’ interview. It didn’t have to be like this.
Kentucky is a women’s track and field school anyway.
Tom Hart and Dane Bradshaw all went 606
Behind the mics calling out the game, Tom Hart and Dane Bradshaw wore #606 shirts to draw attention to the flood relief efforts in eastern Kentucky, a really nice touch from our pal Tom and one of the few Vols we like .
photo of dr Michael Huang | Kentucky Sports Radio
Next up: Recover for the weekend
With a 2-0 record through two exhibitions, Kentucky Basketball will take time off tomorrow to rest their legs and see the sites and some community service through Samaritan’s Feet. On Saturday, they’re back in the Baha Mar ballroom to play Carleton University, a Canadian team that recently had some success against the SEC. From 2017 to 2018, Carleton twice beat Ole Miss, Alabama and Vanderbilt. However, this current Carleton team lost both games against NCAA competition this summer. first at Northeastern, 91-104, then at Cam’Ron Fletcher’s Florida State, 64-98.
On Sunday, Kentucky will wrap up its four-game run in the Bahamas against the Bahamas national team before flying home to Lexington in the evening.
Now sleep a little with sweet dreams from number 9.