Reeves, Tshiebwe lead Kentucky to first NCAA Tournament win since 2019

Antonio Reeves scored 22 factors and Oscar Tshiebwe pulled down 25 rebounds in an overwhelming show, serving to Kentucky beat Providence 61-53 in Friday evening’s first spherical of the NCAA Tournament.

Tshiebwe’s rebounding work was the second-most within the event since 1973, and 11 of his rebounds got here on the offensive glass — a giant issue within the sixth-seeded Wildcats (22-11) staying in management as each offenses grinded to a halt after halftime.

With the two-time Associated Press All-American grabbing nearly each unfastened ball, Kentucky completed with a 48-31 rebounding benefit, controlling the offensive glass (plus-10) and dominating in second-chance factors for an 18-2 edge.

On a day when neither staff shot effectively after halftime, that boardwork was important to sending Kentucky on to face the Montana State-Kansas State winner Sunday within the East Region — a giant turnaround from final yr’s stunning first-round exit towards Fifteenth-seeded Saint Peter’s.

Reeves hit 5 3-pointers to guide the offense, whereas Jacob Toppin had his personal huge recreation with 18 factors. Tshiebwe managed eight factors, however he was nonetheless an indomitable drive that the Eleventh-seeded Friars (21-12) simply could not handle.

When it was over, Tshiebwe emerged from a TV postgame interview by gleefully skipping his means off the courtroom towards the locker room.

Kentucky gained whereas capturing simply 36.5%.

Ed Croswell scored 16 factors for Providence, which shot simply 36.2% whereas making 5 of 24 3-pointers.

The recreation arrange a reunion between Providence star Bryce Hopkins and the Kentucky program he left behind as a switch seeking a much bigger function. Hopkins got here in averaging 16.1 factors, however completed with simply seven on 2-for-9 capturing in a troublesome evening whereas being chased primarily by Toppin.

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Reporting by The Associated Press.

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