Three takeaways as Kentucky basketball breezes again in the Bahamas

·4 min read
Chet White/UK Athletics

Three takeaways from Kentucky basketball’s easy-peasy 102-40 romp over Tec de Monterrey in the Bahamas on Thursday night:

1. First takeaway is there should be no takeaways

Although I am contractually obligated to focus on three important takeaways from every Kentucky basketball game, there should be a contractual addendum that allows me to opt out of 62-point exhibition victories in a foreign land, no matter how beautiful that foreign land might be.

Let’s be serious here. To say Tec de Monterrey was overmatched would be something of an understatement. Kentucky’s second opponent in this exhibition series was short, slow and not particularly skilled. To say that we learned a lot from the Wildcats’ waltz on Thursday would be a tremendous overstatement.

That being said, you have to give the Cats credit for not playing down to the competition. Four produced double-doubles. Jacob Toppin scored 12 points and grabbed 11 rebounds in 24 minutes. Oscar Tshiebwe scored 10 points and snatched 14 boards in 23 minutes. Chris Livingston added 14 points and 10 rebounds in 23 minutes. Sahvir Wheeler totaled 14 points and 10 assists in 26 minutes.

Overall, Kentucky shot 53.3 percent from the floor and outrebounded its much-much-much smaller opponent by a ridiculous 65-22. UK had more offensive rebounds (24) than Monterrey had total rebounds.

2. I liked Kentucky’s uniforms

By my style preferences, the Cats are 2-for-2 in the uniform department in the Bahamas. I loved the plain, simple, classic blue-and-white “Kentucky” uniforms the Cats wore on Wednesday night. I was also quite fond of the blue, script “Kentucky” uniforms John Calipari’s team donned on Thursday night. Word is the controversial checkerboard patterns will soon be gone, though not soon enough.

As for the players in the uniform — we’ll save the third takeaway for one specific player — I thought Wheeler, the senior point guard, acquitted himself much better Thursday than he did in UK’s 108-56 blowout of the Dominican Republic National Select Team on Wednesday. A bit out of control in the first game, Wheeler was also briefly sidelined after knocking knees with another player. In game two, looking fit, he pushed the ball without losing the ball, committing just one turnover. Assists: Kentucky 21, Monterrey 5.

Also, a shout-out to Mr. Livingston. Wednesday night, I concentrated on fellow freshman Cason Wallace’s play. But Livingston enjoyed an impressive opener as well, making four of seven shots and scoring 11 points to go with a team-high eight rebounds and four assists. The Ohio native followed that up by making five of his six shots to go with his double-figure rebound night in the mauling of Monterrey.

3. Adou Thiero won’t let you overlook Adou Thiero

I’ll admit that when my colleague Ben Roberts wrote this summer that unheralded recruit Adou Thiero might turn into something special for this Kentucky basketball team, I was skeptical. More preseason hype, the cynical me thought.

After two games, I’m not ready to say the rookie from Pittsburgh will unseat any of Calipari’s starters anytime soon. I am ready to say that he could be a significant contributor to this 2022-23 basketball team. As proof, Thiero scored 13 points with six rebounds in 22 minutes against Monterrey. Better still, he’s no wallflower. He has shown repeatedly he’s not afraid to stick his nose into the fray and mix it up with recruits who may or may not have more recruiting stars by their names.

The other thing about Thiero: He’s still growing. As Ben reported, Thiero has shot up from 5-9 to 6-6 with no evidence he is about to plateau. When it’s all said and done, we may say the same for his game.

The Cats get a night off Friday before their third exhibition game in the Bahamas, a 6 p.m. Saturday contest against Carleton University out of Canada. The hope here is that Carleton puts up more of a fight than Kentucky has seen to this point.

BAHAMAS SCHEDULE

Wednesday, Aug. 10: Kentucky 108, Dominican Republic National Select Team 56

Thursday, Aug. 11: Kentucky 102, Tec de Monterrey 40

Saturday, Aug. 13: Kentucky vs. Carleton University, 6 p.m. (SEC)

Sunday, Aug. 14: Kentucky vs. Bahamas National Team, noon (SEC)

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