No. 4 Kentucky likely will be without All-American Oscar Tshiebwe again when they host Duquesne on Friday in Lexington, Ky.
Tshiebwe, the reigning Naismith Award and Associated Press Player of the Year, sat out Monday’s season-opening, 95-63 win over visiting Howard to continue his recovery from minor knee surgery on Oct. 13.
“If he wants to play Friday, I’m going to have to work him out myself and see,” Kentucky coach John Calipari said. “If I did play him, he would probably play 10 or 15 minutes, just to get his legs under him.”
Tshiebwe, who is expected to return when the Wildcats face Michigan State on Tuesday in Indianapolis, averaged 17.4 points, 15.1 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game last season.
Kentucky, however, likely will welcome two more players into the mix against the Dukes, who cruised to a 91-63 season-opening win over visiting Montana on Tuesday.
Senior point guard Sahvir Wheeler, who averaged 10.1 points and a team-high 6.9 assists per game in 2021-22, was sidelined against Howard with an injured right leg. Sophomore forward Daimion Collins, who averaged 2.9 points and 2.0 rebounds per game, missed Monday’s game to be with his family in Texas after the unexpected death of his father.
The Wildcats had no trouble against the Bison without them.
Antonio Reeves scored 22 points, CJ Frederick had 20 and Jacob Toppin had 15 points and 11 rebounds.
Freshman point guard Cason Wallace had 15 points, nine assists and eight rebounds in his first college game, finishing just shy of becoming the first Wildcat to post a triple-double since Isaiah Briscoe and De’Aaron Fox each recorded one in 2016.
“There are not many people in the country doing that, let alone as a freshman. He brings such a different dimension to our team,” Frederick said. “What he’s doing at his age and at his first college game is special.”
Reeves, a transfer who averaged 20.1 points per game for Illinois State last year, shot 8-for-16 from the field, including a blistering 6 of 12 from beyond the arc. Frederick, whose hamstring injury sidelined him all of last season after transferring from Iowa, shot 6-for-9 from the field and 2-for-5 from 3-point range.
“Chemistry was definitely out there,” Reeves said. “We all moved the ball pretty well. (We) ran the floor pretty well — rebounded and got a couple of assists through there. I think the whole team had a great game today and we just have to move on to the next game.”
Duquesne will look for another stifling defensive effort against the Wildcats after holding Montana to 19 first-half points on Tuesday.
Dae Dae Grant scored 25 points on a perfect 8-for-8 from the field, including making all six of his 3-point attempts. Matus Hronsky added 13 points and two steals, while Joe Reece had 12 points and five rebounds and Quincy McGriff chipped in 10 points.
“When we saw the preseason polls we were (angry),” Reece said of his team being picked last in the preseason Atlantic 10 poll. “We had a chip on our shoulder from the jump. We thought we were way better than that.”
–Field Level Media