By Lizzie Hull

The Kentucky Wildcats finished 18-0 at home in their 2021-22 regular season after defeating the University of Mississippi 83-72 on Senior night, sending off seniors Davion Mintz and Kellan Grady with another victory.

In nearly 46 years in Rupp Arena, this is the 14th time that a team has had a perfect season at home, the sixth time under coach John Calipari. 

Tuesday’s game started slowly, the Wildcats offense was shooting well, but could not break past a single digit lead over the Rebels for most of the first half. Without a stellar defensive outing for the Wildcats, the Rebels were able to convert shots through their leading scorer of the night, Matthew Murrel, who finished with 25 points, 5-of-8 from distance. 

“They beat us on the dribble,” said Calipari. “And we were spread out all over the place. I mean they shot 50 percent against us. Now, we shot 60 against them, but they shot 50 against us, and that’s not who we are.” 

Yet again for the Wildcats, the dominant performance of Oscar Tshiebwe with 18 points and 15 rebounds would prove to be instrumental in winning and finishing a perfect season at home. Tshiebwe recorded his 24th double-double of the season, but unlike in most outings, Tshiebwe struggled some tonight in his matchup. 

Oscar Tshiebwe finished with another double-double for the Wildcats, his 24th of the season

“Today I thought Oscar got bullied.” said Calipari. “I did, and I was on him about it and holding him accountable.” 

Leading the way with Tshiebwe Tuesday night was Sahvir Wheeler with 16 points, 2-3 from distance and 7 assists. Wheeler’s ability to run the floor as well as lead his team is something that the Wildcats had missed through the two games he was out with an injury. 

“Like I say, Sahvir, of all the point guards who are going for the Cousy Award, I need to see one that has a bigger impact on the game than him, both defensively and offensively.” said Calipari. “Creating shots, playing with speed, the pace of the game is what he dictates, smart. But then disruptive defensively.” 

Back to his pre-injury playing status along with Wheeler Tuesday night was TyTy Washington Jr. Washington finished with 14 points and four assists, but his scoring came when it was needed most. Washington completed a 7-0 run for the Wildcats to give them their first double digit lead with about 5 minutes left in the first half. 

“I was happy to see the ball go through the hole.” said Washington. “That actually just boosted my confidence. I know I’m coming back from injury, but just seeing the ball go in that many times in that time span was just very happy for me and I just felt finally back like myself a little bit.” 

Tshiebwe(18), Wheeler(16), Washington(14), were joined by Keion Brooks(10) in double figures,  Kentucky has posted several games with four or more players in double figures this season. 

The Wildcats 24-6 (13-4 Southeastern Conference) will head to Gainesville next to take on the Florida Gators Saturday at 2 p.m. before they go to Tampa the following weekend for the SEC Tournament. 

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