LEXINGTON — For the sixth time in the John Calipari era, Kentucky finished the regular season undefeated at Rupp Arena after beating Ole Miss 83-72 in the home finale Tuesday. The win improved UK to 24-6 overall and 13-4 in Southeastern Conference play.
UK was led in scoring by Oscar Tshiebwe, who had 18 points. He also grabbed 15 rebounds to record a double-double for the 12th straight game and 24th time this season.
“(Oscar) is just special,” Ole Miss coach Kermit Davis said. “He just expanded his game. Obviously he made three or four 15-16 footers.
“He’s just got such strong hands. Tshiebwe was 18 and 15. He only had five at the half. He had 13 rebounds in the second half. He is about winning. What separates him from a lot of big bigs around the country is his conditioning and toughness. He’s just got such mental toughness when he is faced with fatigue.”
Sahvir Wheeler added 16 points for Kentucky, while TyTy Washington (14) and Keion Brooks (10) also finished in double figures. As a team, UK shot an impressive 60%.
“That’s like having a middle linebacker on defense and an unbelievable quarterback on offense,” Calipari said of Tshiebwe and Wheeler leading the charge.
Ole Miss was led by Matthew Murrell, who dropped a game-high 25 points. He was joined in double figures by Nysier Brooks, who had 14 points.
Davis’ Rebels fell to 13-17 overall and 4-13 in conference play.
Before the game, Kentucky honored seniors Kellan Grady and Davion Mintz, who both played their final game at Rupp Arena.
Once action tipped off, the Wildcats avoided a slow first half for the first time since their February 12 win over Florida. Kentucky did not face a double-digit first half deficit.
Ole Miss never led by more than two at 2-0 as Kentucky took a 10-6 lead into the first media timeout of the night as both Sahvir Wheeler and Grady knocked down early 3-pointers.
The Rebels would cut a 19-10 lead down to 24-21 midway through the half, but Kentucky used a 6-0 run to push their lead back to nine.
Later in the half, with the lead back down to three, Washington helped push Kentucky’s lead to 10 as he scored seven straight points while helping hold Ole Miss off the scoreboard to help lead the Wildcats to a 44-34 halftime lead.
Kentucky maintained control throughout the second half until the 4:40 mark when Ole Miss used a 7-2 run to cut the Wildcat lead to six at 74-68.
Despite the Rebels run and Ole Miss finishing the night shooting 50% from the field as a team, Kentucky would close things out and secure a perfect home record for the 14th time in program history.
“We finished on our home court undefeated, so that was always big for us,” Washington said. “And we couldn’t really do that without the fans.”
Kentucky will finish the regular season Saturday in Gainesville, where it willl look to complete a season sweep of the rival Florida Gators. Tipoff is slated for 1 p.m. CT.