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No. 13 Kentucky dominates boards, pulls away late

Wildcats hold 53-17 rebounding margin in 77-59 victory


LEXINGTON, Ky. – No. 13 Kentucky pounded Ohio on the boards and pulled away late for a 77-59 victory on Friday night at Rupp Arena.

The Wildcats (3-1) outrebounded the Bobcats (3-1) by a 53-17 margin, including a 19-5 advantage in offensive rebounds that allowed them to overcome 15 turnovers.

Ben Vander Plas led Ohio with 19 points and six rebounds, while Jason Carter had 15 points and five rebounds. Mark Sears finished with 10 points and five assists.

Keion Brooks Jr. paced Kentucky with 22 points and eight rebounds, with TyTy Washington Jr. adding 20 points and 11 rebounds.

“Late in the game, they started switching everything, which kind of stagnated us,” Boals said. “In the first half, we got some good looks and post entries. In the second half they made some good adjustments."

A Carter jumper tied the game at 48 with 14:07 remaining, but Kentucky followed with a 9-0 run to take control, beginning with a Brooks jumper. Sahvir Wheeler knocked down a jumper, and Washington took advantage of an offensive rebound to knock down a 3-pointer. Davion Mintz’s fastbreak layup put the Wildcats ahead 57-48.

AJ Clayton hit pair of 3-pointers in the next two minutes, but the Wildcats followed the second one with seven more points in a row, going up 68-54 on a Brooks jumper that followed an Oscar Tshiebwe offensive rebound. Tshiebwe did not score but had 10 rebounds, including six on the offensive end.

“They get it,” Kentucky coach John Calipari said. “They understand. And they play – I mean Oscar, I'm playing for all these people here. I'm working this hard for the fans. That's a heck of a statement, and his teammates.”

After a Miles Brown 3-pointer for Ohio, Kentucky scored nine straight to go ahead by 20 with a minute to go.

The Bobcats came out swinging in the first half, taking an 11-4 lead on a Carter layup. Later, a Lunden McDay 3-pointer put Ohio in front 18-10, and the margin was still eight points at 22-14 on a Vander Plas jumper at the 11:01 mark.

“[Vander Plas] is a big reason for where we are, what we're doing and what we did last year, and I think he does a great job of staying positive and keeping our guys together,” Boals said. “He's a tough matchup for most people.”

Kentucky answered with a 10-2 run to tie the score and then went on top 26-25 with a pair of Brooks free throws. From there, the game was back and forth until the Wildcats asserted themselves over the final 14 minutes when they held a 29-11 advantage.

"Obviously 53-17, you aren't going to win a lot of games,” Vander Plas said. “I thought we did a good job with Oscar (Tshiebwe) and bowing him out with the three rebounds, but just yeah with those 50/50 rebounds. We weren't getting them, but they were, and they were easy buckets. We have to get more if we want to win a game like that."

Ohio shot just 36.7% in the game, including 33.3% in the second half. After making 7 of 10 free throws in the first half, the Bobcats did not attempt any after the break. They also cooled down from 5-of-12 3-point shooting before halftime to a 3-of-12 performance in the second half.

"I think we got some good looks, and we just didn't hit them," Boals said. "You know, Mark Sears, who's a phenomenal player and going to be a great player for us, got in the paint sometimes and their length, you can't stimulate their length and athleticism. But I thought the switching they did slow us down from a patient space standpoint. I think it's a mixture of fatigue and what they did to us defensively. But, without looking at the second half I was happy with some of the looks we got."

Kentucky shot 48.3% for the game despite going just 3 of 16 from long range. It made 16 of 17 free throws.

Mintz nearly had a double-double with 12 points and nine rebounds. Wheeler had 11 points, six rebounds and four assists.

"We got a lot of open looks and we were competing against them,” Carter said. “At the end of the day, it shows where we can be and how we can improve."

Ohio returns home to host Mount St. Mary’s at 7 p.m. Monday at The Convo.







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