Five things you need to know from the No. 18 Kentucky Wildcats’ 83-56 win over the Missouri Tigers in Rupp Arena:
1. Keion Brooks gets in on the fun. In UK’s blowout wins over North Carolina and Western Kentucky, the 6-foot-7, 210-pound junior had been relatively quiet.
Brooks had 10 points and three rebounds in 18 minutes vs. the Tar Heels and five points and one board in 13 minutes against WKU.
Against Missouri, Brooks was, arguably, Kentucky’s best player.
The Fort Wayne, Ind., product hit seven of 11 shots, three of four free throws and just missed a double-double with 17 points and nine rebounds.
Though basketball analytics adherents may loathe the midrange jump shot, that is Brooks’ best offensive weapon and he made good use of it vs. the Tigers, sinking jumpers from 12, 15 and 12 feet.
2. Oscar’s magic-carpet ride. Oscar Tshiebwe is having such a good season, that in a game in which he made only two of 10 field-goal tries — he finished with 13 points and 20 rebounds.
Missouri’s defensive bulk — the Tigers have nine players who weigh at least 210 pounds — seemed to bother Tshiebwe near the rim on shot attempts.
However, Tshiebwe compensated by getting to the foul line 10 times and sinking nine of them.
He was his usual force of nature on the glass, following up his 28-rebound tour de force vs. Western Kentucky with 20 more.
If it wasn’t apparent before, the 6-9, 255-pound post player from the Democratic Republic of Congo is a legitimate National Player of the Year candidate.
3. Wheeler “bounce back” continues. Kentucky point guard Sahvir Wheeler continues to leave the slog he endured in UK’s unexpected loss at Notre Dame three games ago in the rear-view mirror.
Against Missouri, the Georgia transfer went for 11 points and nine assists and had only one turnover.
The more open-court offensive style UK has employed since the loss in South Bend is allowing the Wildcats to get the best from the dynamic Wheeler.
Since going 0-of-5 from the floor and finishing with three points and two assists vs. Notre Dame, Wheeler has come back to average 14.3 points and 8.3 assists while making 20 of 33 field-goal tries in the three games since.
4. Mizzou still “Oh-fer-Lexington.” With its defeat, Missouri is now 0-8 all-time vs. Kentucky in games played in Lexington, 0-6 vs. the Cats in Rupp Arena since joining the SEC.
The Tigers, who joined the Southeastern Conference in 2012-13, are the only SEC team never to have beaten UK in Rupp.
5. Calipari strong in SEC openers. In the John Calipari coaching era (since 2009-10), Kentucky is now 11-2 in the initial SEC game of a season and 8-0 when that contest is played in Rupp Arena.
The only times under Calipari that UK has lost its first Southeastern Conference game of a season came in 2010-11, a 77-70 loss to Georgia in Athens, and in 2018-19, a 77-75 defeat to Alabama in Tuscaloosa.
Box score from Kentucky basketball’s 83-56 SEC-opening win over Missouri
No surprises in a matter-of-fact Kentucky victory over Missouri