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Watch: John Calipari Talks 56-38 Exhibition Win Over Missouri Western State

Watch: John Calipari Talks 56-38 Exhibition Win Over Missouri Western State

Kentucky head coach John Calipari spoke to the media following the No. 4 Wildcats’ 56-38 exhibition win over Missouri Western State on Sunday night. 

The 14th-year skipper talked what he saw out of his team defensively, his relationship with Missouri Western head coach and former UK team manager Will Martin, point guard Sahvir Wheeler’s injury and more. 

Calipari’s entire press conference can be viewed above. 

Three Takeaways From The Exhibition

No Oscar, No Problem Defensively

Kentucky was without star center Oscar Tshiebwe on Sunday night. While it may have shown offensively, freshman Ugonna Onyenso filled in any holes on the defensive end against the Griffons.

Notching blocks and rebounds, his presence down low was reminiscent of what Tshiebwe provides as a defender.

Lance Ware’s added muscle was on display tonight, as he looked much more the part of an SEC big. He had a couple of nice moves in the post, also adding a nifty no-look pass to CJ Fredrick, leading to a 3-pointer.

Daimion Collins was rather quiet after showing out massively at Big Blue Madness and in the Blue-White scrimmage, totaling just

There will be proper depth behind Tshiebwe this season. That doesn’t mean they’re going to score points. The offense still has the look of one that’s going to run through the NPOY when he’s on the court.

How Serious is Sahvir Wheeler’s Injury?

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Around the midway point of the second half, point guard Sahvir Wheeler hit the deck after driving to the basket. He would remain down for a moment, eventually being taken back to the locker room with a right leg injury.

Wheeler put no pressure on his leg or foot after getting up. He has already dealt with some sort of injury this preseason, as he also didn’t play in the Blue-White scrimmage. Minor knocks have already tallied up on the Cats in the lead-up to the season opener on Nov. 7.

Cason Wallace proved to be a starting caliber guard against Missouri Western and would have no problem filling in for Wheeler, but already talking about players being out is not a good sign for the Wildcats.

These things tend to pile up, and can take a toll down the stretch of a long season.

Toppin, Fredrick Excel

Jacob Toppin has taken major strides since he first put on a Kentucky uniform. That was evident more than ever on Sunday night. Hitting multiple fadeaway mid-range jumpers, getting high for a put-back dunk and being an overall leader on defense, he was the most impressive player on the court.

He has been pegged as a “breakout” player by almost everyone in the national college basketball media. It’s clear that the potential for superstardom is there, and Calipari has also made it known that no one on the roster is working harder than the third-year Wildcat. It’s just an exhibition, but it seems like Toppin will take that next step and then some this year.

After what must’ve felt like an eternity, CJ Fredrick finally got out on the court in a Kentucky uniform against another team. He showed off his lights-out shooting ability from the get-go.

Shooting from the field and cashing in on 3-pointers, Fredrick finished with points in an impressive showing. It’s clear he was confident in his shooting stroke every time he let one go. Alongside Antonio Reeves, Fredrick may be the one who carries the Cats from behind the arc this season. 

Want the latest on national football and basketball recruiting, including Cats targets? Head over to SI All-American for the latest news, blogs, and updates about the nation’s best prospects.

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