Sahvir Wheeler delivers performance fans should rave about

Sahvir Wheeler delivers performance fans should rave about

LEXINGTON- kentucky point guard Sahvir Wheeler is one of the best facilitators in college basketball but is coming off a 2021-22 season that saw him shoot just 44.1 percent from the field, 30.8 percent from three and commit an average of three turnovers a game for the Wildcats.

Thus for the last year, the Big Blue Nation has been calling on Wheeler to take less shots, focus more on his elite passing and take better care of the ball.

That performance did not come earlier this week as he went 6-for-16 shooting against Michigan State, which saw him take and miss a handful of critical shots in Tuesday’s Champions Classic loss. He also committed three turnovers, including a key second half travel.

Two days later, against South Carolina State, he delivered the performance fans have been begging for.

Wheeler dished a team-high 10 assists, did not commit a turnover and only took three shots from the field, making one. He also added four points at the free throw line.

His final stat line Thursday night’s win: six points, 10 assists, three rebounds and one steal.

Wheeler’s 10 assists led an effort that saw UK dish 25 as a team.

“That’s what happens when you have good guards that are unselfish,” UK head coach John Calipari said postgame.

“Sahvir today, 10 assists. I mean, passing the ball to each other, so it was a good win.”

Wheeler’s ability to facilitate this year should lead to a far deeper tournament run for the Wildcats, who were bounced in the first round of the NCAA Tournament by Saint Peter’s a year ago.

Kentucky has a pair of elite three-point shooters in CJ Fredrickwho scored 17 points and drilled three, three-pointers Thursday and Antonio Reeveswho also drained three threes and is shooting near 50 percent on the year from deep.

UK also has to ensure consensus defending national player of the year Oscar Tshiebwe gets touches in the paint.

The best man to get those three the ball is Wheeler, who led the SEC in assists at Georgia during the 2020-21 season with 7.4 a game and dished out and led the conference again last year with 6.9 assists per game with the Wildcats.

“I love playing with Sahvir,” guard CJ Fredrick said when asked about Wheeler’s performance. “My job is just run as fast as I can and he’s gonna find me. So as a shooter, it’s awesome to play with a guy like Sahvir, for sure.”

Wheeler’s turnover-free night against the Bulldogs was just his third in 33 as a Wildcat.

He joined two turnover-free performances from last season against Robert Morris that saw him dish 12 assists and score just five points and a turnover-free game in a home win over Florida that saw him dish six assists and score nine points.

The common trend between all three games outside of Wheeler playing turnover-free: Kentucky won all of them by at least 19 points.

In games, he’s focused on passing and letting his teammates take the shots, turnovers are down and Kentucky is winning.

If Kentucky gets Thursday’s version of Wheeler, the fan base will go from loving to criticize the senior point guard to giving him the credit he deserves for being one of the country’s best point guards.

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