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

Antonio Reeves scored 22 points and Oscar Tshiebwe pulled down 25 rebounds in a dominating performance, helping Kentucky beat Providence 61-53 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Friday night.

Tshiebwe’s rebounding output was the second-most in the tournament since 1973, and 11 of his rebounds came on the offensive glass, a big factor in the sixth-seeded Wildcats (22-11) staying in the control while both offenses were shut down afterward. half time.

With the two-time Associated Press All-American grabbing nearly every loose ball, Kentucky finished with a 48-31 rebounding advantage, controlling the offensive glass (plus-10) and dominating second-chance points for a 18-2 lead.

On a day when neither team shot well after the break, that table work was vital in sending Kentucky to face the winner of Montana State-Kansas State in the East Regional on Sunday, a huge turnaround of last year’s surprising first-round exit against 15th-seeded Saint. Peter’s.

Reeves hit five 3-pointers to lead the offense, while Jacob Toppin had his own big game with 18 points. Tshiebwe had eight points, but was still an indomitable force that the 11th-seeded Friars (21-12) couldn’t handle.

When it was over, Tshiebwe emerged from a post-match TV interview happily skipping down the track to the dressing room.

Kentucky won while shooting just 36.5%.

Ed Croswell scored 16 points for Providence, which shot just 36.2 percent while making 5-of-24 3-pointers.

The game set up a reunion between Providence star Bryce Hopkins and the Kentucky program he left behind as a transfer in search of a bigger role. Hopkins averaged 16.1 points but finished with just seven on 2-of-9 shooting on a rough night while being hounded primarily by Toppin.

Report from The Associated Press.

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