‘Mad’ Wildcats move past loss to Kansas, return to SEC play at Ole Miss

Published 10:30 am Tuesday, January 31, 2023

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While Kansas was celebrating in its locker room following a 77-68 win over Kentucky Saturday night, the Wildcats had a different take on the outcome.

“Our guys were mad, they were,” Kentucky assistant coach KT Turner said Monday. “They said it yesterday. We’re mad we lost and we felt like we had a chance to win the game, but they realized we’re right there. We’re right there, we just gotta get a little bit better.”

The Jaywhawks made clutch shots down the stretch, including four 3-pointers in the final five minutes, to fend off Kentucky’s upset bid. The Wildcats had a four-game winning streak snapped in the narrow setback but will look to keep the streak going against Southeastern Conference teams at Mississippi Tuesday night in Oxford.

“We can beat teams like that, first of all,” Turner said. “We were right there in the game with them. We just got to get better at a couple of things defensively that we’re gonna be working on.”

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Despite the loss in the final SEC/Big 12 Challenge, the Wildcats remain confident in their ability to finish strong. Kentucky has 10 more Southeastern Conference games remaining and can bolster its NCAA Tournament resume with a strong finish, despite a small margin for error. Kentucky has a record of 1-6 against Quad 1 games and has five games remaining against Quad 1 opponents, including a home game against Arkansas and a home encounter against Tennessee.

“I do not think it changes (our mentality) at all,” Kentucky guard Antonio Reeves said. “It just means we need to get back to the basics and figure out what we need to do on the floor next time. It is a marathon, it is not just one game, it is multiple games, so we just have to figure it out.”

The Rebels (9-12, 1-7 SEC) dropped an 82-60 setback to Oklahoma State Saturday in the Big 12-SEC Challenge and carry a three-game losing streak into Tuesday’s contest.

“They’re a really good team. They play hard. They’re physical, they’re athletic,” Turner said. “I think they are a lot better than what their record shows in the SEC, for sure.”

Wallace honored

Kentucky guard Cason Wallace was named SEC Freshman of the Week after averaging 12 points, 5.5 rebounds and 3 assists in a pair of games last week.

Wallace scored 10 points and five rebounds in a 69-53 win at Vanderbilt and had 14 points and six rebounds in a loss to Kansas.

It marked the second time Wallace has been honored by the league office this season. Oscar Tshiebwe was named SEC Player of the Week last week.