UK basketball game 1

Are the Cats Built to Cut Down the Nets?

On Monday, Kentucky kicked off the 2022-23 season and “Reven9e Tour” with a monster 95-63 win over Howard. The Cats put up the most points and largest margin of victory in a season opener since the 2011-12 season… and we all know how that year ended – cutting down the nets as national champions. What does game one tell us about this season’s outlook?

New Guard Trio is Flourishing 

To start, the first game was an impressive win despite the fact that we were without three crucial players – National Player of the Year Oscar Tshiebwe, pre-season SEC 1st-Team Sahvir Wheeler, and sophomore unicorn Daimion Collins, all of whom were out due to a variety of reasons.

Kentucky had a trio of new guards make their debut, and they absolutely flourished. 

CJ Frederick

After sitting out last year to rehab an injury, Iowa transfer CJ Frederick launched his UK Career, playing his first official game back in Rupp since 2018 when he was cutting down the nets as a state champion for Covington Catholic.


In his first career start, Frederick finished with 20 points, three rebounds, three assists, one steal, and zero turnovers – shooting 67% from the field, 40% from three, and 86% from the free throw line. If he can remain healthy this entire season, the ceiling for this team will elevate exponentially.

Cason Wallace

The next newcomer in the starting lineup was freshman guard Cason Wallace, who put on an absolute show.


Cason was just shy of posting a triple-double in his debut, finishing with 15 points, nine rebounds, and nine assists – shooting at a highly efficient clip going 7/11 from the field, and 50% on his two attempts from behind the arc. It’s also worth noting that his impressive defense on the night created havoc for Howard as he posted two steals as well. If game one is any indication, Wallace is next in line on the list of generational guard talents to come through Lexington, a list of which have become a hallmark of the Calipari era.

Antonio Reeves

And last but not least, TON3!


Despite coming off the bench, Illinois State transfer Antonio Reeves led the Cats in scoring (as he did all pre-season) with 22 points in just 25 minutes of gametime. Reeves set the UK record for most threes ever in a Wildcat debut, going an efficient 6/12 from downtown. Also worth noting he doubled the previous debut high of three, which was held by former Cats Patrick Sparks, Doron Lamb, and Kellan Grady. Reeves has been nothing short of phenomenal in his scoring thus far and does not appear to be taking his foot off the gas anytime soon.

Altogether the three newcomers for the Cats were responsible for 57 of Kentucky’s 95 total points – scoring at a combined 58% from the field, 47% from the three-point line, and 75% from the charity stripe. Good luck trying to zone this team!

Notable Scores Across the Board 

The rest of the team was on point as well. Jacob Toppin finished with a double-double going for 15 points and 11 rebounds. Freshman Chris Livington notched nine points and four rebounds in his first career start, and newly reclassified freshman Ugonna Onyenso recorded four blocks. Again, with three of the best players of this team out for game one, and to see what we’re already working with, it is evident that this Kentucky team is very special.

It’s extremely important to not overreact to game one impressions. However, the depth, defense, experience, scoring ability, and overall talent of this Kentucky team are already on full-display in early November – all keys to making a Final Four run in March.

Cats are back in action on November 11 against Duquense! Go Big Blue!