Oscar Tshiebwe, Jacob Toppin share ‘relief’ of Kentucky’s first-round win over Providence
No. 6 seed Kentucky outlasted No. 11 seed Providence 61-53 to advance to the Round of 32 in the NCAA Tournament.
It was a form of vindication after the Wildcats were eliminated last season in the Round of 64 by No. 15 seed Saint Peter’s, an upstart squad that made history by reaching the Elite Eight.
Guard Antonio Reeves led Kentucky with 22 points and forward Oscar Tshiebwe scored 8 points and a whopping 25 rebounds in the victory. The rebounding total is the most in the tournament dating back to Michigan’s Phil Hubbard vs. Detroit Mercy in 1977.
Tshiebwe made sure to emphasize to his teammates that the past is over and this is a fresh start to accomplish their dreams.
“We just come in. I told all my teammates, I told them, I said this year we come in and fight. Last year doesn’t matter anymore. Now you know this tournament is about fighting. It’s about who fights the most,” Tshiebwe said. “That’s the one who is going to keep moving. So we came in with the mentality, and we forget the past, and we’re just fighting right now.”
Forward Jacob Toppin scored 18 points along with 6 rebounds. Toppin is proud of the resiliency of the Wildcats.
“Yeah, it was a big relief, obviously. I knew what this team was capable of, so we got the job done. So props to my teammates. We all stuck together. Even when they made their runs, we didn’t put our heads down. We kept fighting,” Toppin said. “Defensively, Oscar had 25 rebounds. That’s insane. But, you know, we did the little things that won us the game.”
Kentucky will face No. 3 Kansas State next, with a trip to the Sweet 16 on the line. Tip-off on Sunday is slated for 2:40 p.m. ET and the contest will be televised on CBS.
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Tshiebwe needs to have a monster game to get past KState. He can do it, but KY goes as T goes, anything less probably wont be enough.