Kentucky-Central Michigan lives down to expectations as Cats roll in Rupp Arena

·3 min read

For those who prefer competitive games and basketball drama, Kentucky-Central Michigan lived down to expectations.

Even by the modest standard set by Kentucky’s home schedule so far this season (average margin of victory 28.8 points), Central Michigan paled by comparison. Going into this week, the average Ken Pomeroy rating for opponents in UK’s current span of seven straight home games was 269. Incidentally, that’s where Pomeroy ranked the New Jersey Institute of Technology.

Pomeroy ranked Central Michigan at No. 315, which was the worst rating of the seven opponents in this “tune-up” portion of the schedule.

UK’s 85-57 victory at Rupp Arena validated Pomeroy’s number crunching.

Oscar Tshiebwe led UK with 20 points and 16 rebounds. TyTy Washington added 15 points.

Kentucky did its own crunching from the start. UK made its first six shots and led 13-5 less than four minutes into the game.

The sharp-shooting included three-pointers by Keion Brooks and Sahvir Wheeler, two players that came into the game having combined to make five of 21 shots from beyond the arc this season.

Wheeler’s early three-pointer put UK ahead 16-5 moments before the first television timeout at the 14:56 mark.

Twenty-four seconds later, Central Michigan called time. In that span, Tshiebwe dunked a Wheeler lob, then Wheeler converted a steal into a fast-break layup to make Kentucky’s lead 20-5.

The timeout did not have an impact. Central Michigan made only five of its first 21 shots en route to a 33.3-percent shooting half (10 of 30).

Meanwhile, Kentucky twice expanded its first-half lead to 31 points, the second time with more than five minutes left.

Kentucky settled for a 51-25 halftime lead. The Cats’ domination included a 25-14 rebound advantage, 22-8 in points from the paint, 15-3 in points off turnovers and 11-0 in fast-break points.

These numbers validated stats that suggested a blowout was in the offing.

In terms of field goal defense going into Monday’s games, Kentucky was tied for 33rd with the New Jersey Institute of Technology. Opponents had made 37.8 percent of their shots.

Central Michigan ranked 343rd. Opponents had made 50.2 percent of their shots. UK made 20 of its 38 first-half shots.

Kentucky ranked first in rebound margin with an average advantage of 19.8 per game. Central Michigan ranked 348th at minus 14.

Kentucky ranked 13th in scoring margin at plus 22.3. Central Michigan ranked 343rd at minus 20.4.

Nothing changed after intermission.

Washington capped a 10-3 Kentucky run to open the second half with a three-pointer from a distance near the “four-point line” on the team’s practice floor. It put UK ahead 61-238 with 16:07 left. That marked the biggest lead to that point.

By then, Tshiebwe had clinched its sixth double-double in seven games. That enabled Tshiebwe to tie Fardaws Aimaq of Utah Valley for the most double-doubles in Division I.

Back-to-back dunks by Jacob Toppin and Tshiebwe gave UK its largest lead yet, 65-31, with 13:38 left. That prompted another Central Michigan timeout.

By then, the game had long since been a formality.

Next game

Southern at No. 9 Kentucky

When: 7 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 7

TV: SEC Network

Five things you need to know from Kentucky’s 85-57 win over Central Michigan

Box score from Kentucky basketball’s victory over Central Michigan

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