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Cats defeat High Point 92-48 as UK retires Tubby Smith’s jersey

Published: Dec. 31, 2021 at 1:50 PM EST
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WYMT/WKYT) - As fans filed into Rupp Arena on a warm New Year’s Eve morning, they found a familiar face once again on the sidelines of Cawood’s Court...only he was in the opposing team’s colors.

Friday marked the return of Orlando “Tubby” Smith to Rupp Arena, this time as Head Coach of the High Point Panthers, as he prepared his team to take on the squad that he himself had coached from 1998-2007: the #18 Kentucky Wildcats.

Before the game, UK Athletics honored Smith by raising his jersey into the rafters of Rupp Arena, joining three other coaches to win national championships at the school: Adolph Rupp, Joe B. Hall, and Rick Pitino. Smith’s jersey hangs between Rick Pitino and “Mr. Wildcat” Bill Keightley.

“What a tremendous honor, what a moment,” said Smith. “This is something I know my family and I will cherish forever.”

Smith was surrounded by friends, family and former players as he was presented a framed jersey at mid-court.

“This is the first time we’ve been back here since we left,” Smith added. “And to receive this type of welcome is heartwarming, and thank you so much.”

Smith’s Panthers stuck around for much of the first half, but UK started to pull away, gaining a double digit lead with less than five minutes remaining in the half, partially thanks to an 11-0 run during the last 3:36 of the half. Kentucky took an 18-point lead into the locker room at the half. Kentucky continued to cruise throughout the second half, at one point going on a 20-5 run to put the game out of reach, with 92-48 the final score.

Kellan Grady led the Cats in scoring with 23 points, one of four Cats in double figures on the day, with ten different Wildcats logging points. Oscar Tshiebwe finished with 15 points, and 8 rebounds and Tyty Washington added 9 assists.

With the win the Cats improve to 11-2. They’ll hit the road for only their second true road test of the season in their first game of the new year, as they visit the LSU Tigers in Baton Rouge. Tip-off is set for 7:00 p.m. ET on Tuesday, January 4, with the game televised on ESPN.

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