Takeaways from Kentucky’s Game 2 in the Bahamas vs. Tec De Monterrey

Sometimes two teams don’t belong on the same basketball floor together, and that was respectfully the case Thursday night, then The University of Kentucky hosted Tec De Monterrey of Monterrey, Mexico, in a friendly preseason contest on the lovely island of New Providence in the Bahamas.

For Kentucky, it was the second exhibition game in two nights after a well-rounded Wednesday debut, and the new crop of Wildcats again looked unstoppable in Game 2 with a near flawless victory, 102-40, which has fueled fan overreactions. Big Blue Nation doesn’t intend to overreact or set unreasonable expectations based on these summer showcases, but when the most passionate fan base in college basketball watches Kentucky beat two teams by a combined score of 210-96, it’s hard to contain the excitement for, what lies ahead in 2022-23, even if they play a team that looks like your local YMCA league.

So let’s not apologize for overreacting and speak our minds with several takeaways from what we’ve seen from the team in the Bahamas to date. Sure, the competition hasn’t exactly been Gonzaga or Kansas (although it might be a little better than Louisville), but fans and the players themselves can still enjoy the extra basketball and dream big.

A new starting five with a surprising newcomer

In the first exhibition game against the Dominican National Select Team, John Calipari opened the game with a veteran lineup of Sahvir Wheeler, Antonio Reeves, Jacob Toppin, Daimion Collins and Oscar Tshiebwe. Against Tec De Monterrey, he mixed up the order a bit by pushing newcomer Adou Thiero in for Collins with the other four from last night.

G – Sahvir Wheeler
G – Antonio Reeves
G – Adou Thiero
F – Jacob Toppin
F/C – Oscar Tshiebwe

It’s all part of Calipari’s plan to play a different lineup in each half of the four Bahamas games, and Adou Thiero celebrated his first start by draining a 3-pointer on the first possession. The heat check didn’t fall, but he showed up anyway with 22 minutes played and a 5-of-7 shooting clip from the field for 13 points with six boards.

Take some time to read up on how Calipari described his unranked freshman Thursday before the game. Their history goes back a long way.

Lance Ware did not play

Another roster note: Lance Ware did not play due to a minor shoulder injury.

I know at least one person who got bumped.

Oscar Tshiebwe, Sahvir Wheeler did their thing

After Game 1 last night, we didn’t pay much attention to the play of Kentucky’s two returning starters, Oscar Tshiebwe and Sahvir Wheeler, because the fan base is much more interested in learning more about the new guys. We know we’ll get rebounds from Tshiebwe and assists from Wheeler, and so far they’ve both picked up where they left off while sharing floor time with the rest of the team.

Tonight, Tshiebwe and Wheeler were in top form with 14 rebounds for Big Oscar and a 14-point, 10-assist effort from Wheeler. Not to take away from those numbers, but during the broadcast Tom Hart said it looked like Tshiebwe was playing against sixth graders.

To Tom’s point, here’s a funny picture:

(Photo: Dr. Michael Huang/KSR)

More Daimion Collins love

Still on the run from the Royal Bahamas Police Force for his double kill against the Dominican team, Daimion Collins showed up again for the Big Blue Nation with 10 points in the first half in a reserve role off the bench.

My favorite part of Collins’ new game, aside from poking people in the forehead, is his 3-point shooters with both hands extended. I wrote about this last night and tonight his outstretched arms hit a counter shot from outside.

Who does this?

We have a favorite for Bahamas MVP.

Final box score

Chris Livingston, one of the two freshman All-Americans on the team, is not content with a spot behind Kentucky’s experienced forwards. The combo forward from Akron had another big night with 14 points on 5-of-6 shooting from the field and 10 boards, a double-double after leading the team in rebounding and hitting three 3-pointers 24 hours earlier.

With Livingston’s inside-out versatility, he could be a utility knife off the bench for Kentucky, or he might just be one of the better players on the team.

The elephant in the room

Now is not the time to delve into this, but I will note that the excitement surrounding the basketball players was spoiled earlier in the day when the conversation took a hard turn towards Basketball vs. Football. Whatever you think of Calipari’s comments, there’s no doubt it upset his colleagues across campus and stole the spotlight from a basketball team that has brought a lot of joy to fans with this Bahamas trip.

In today’s KSR radio program, we spent two hours excitedly talking about all that happened in the Dominican Republic match. Now tomorrow’s show will be about the unnecessary drama when we should be talking about Bahamas beatdowns and basketball excitement. It’s silly, but you can’t put the toothpaste back in the tube. We are already being overtaken by rivals. I was at a crowded bar full of Cats fans at the game and all they wanted to talk about was Calipari’s interview. It didn’t have to be that way.

Kentucky is a women’s track school after all.

Tom Hart and Dane Bradshaw all walked 606

Behind the microphones calling the game, Tom Hart and Dane Bradshaw wore #606 shirts to bring attention to the flood efforts in Eastern Kentucky, a really nice gesture from our friend Tom and one of the only Vols we like.

Photo by Dr. Michael Huang | Kentucky Sports Radio

Next: Rest this weekend

Now with a 2-0 record through two exhibitions, Kentucky Basketball will take tomorrow off to rest their legs and see the sites, plus some charitable work in the local community through Samaritan’s Feet. On Saturday, they are back in the Baha Mar ballroom to play Carleton University, a Canadian team that has had some success against the SEC. From 2017-18, Carleton beat Ole Miss, Alabama and Vanderbilt twice. However, this current Carleton team has lost both of its games against NCAA competition this summer; first to Northeastern, 91-104, then to Cam’Ron Fletcher’s Florida State, 64-98.

On Sunday, Kentucky will complete its four-game run in the Bahamas against the Bahamas national team before an evening flight home to Lexington.

Now go to sleep with sweet dreams about No. 9.

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