LEXINGTON, Ky. — Antonio Reeves scored 22 points, CJ Fredrick had 20 and No. 4 Kentucky opened the season by beating Howard 95-63 on Monday night with All-American Oscar Tshiebwe and two other players sidelined.
Tshiebwe, the consensus national player of the year, had a procedure last month on his right knee and anticipated being back for the opener. But other than some pregame stretching and receiving his Naismith Trophy — one of six awards he collected last spring along with being named Associated Press player of the year — he was a bystander and cheerleader.
Point guard Sahvir Wheeler (right leg) and sophomore forward Daimion Collins (personal reasons) were also out, but the Wildcats still shot 55% against the overmatched Bison.
Reeves, an Illinois State transfer who averaged 20.1 points per game last season for the Redbirds, hit 6 of 12 from 3-point range and 8 of 16 overall. Fredrick, who transferred from Iowa but missed last season with a hamstring injury, shot 6 of 9 overall and 2 of 5 from beyond the arc.
Jacob Toppin and freshman Cason Wallace each added 15 points for Kentucky, which made 34 of 62 from the field and 11 of 24 3-pointers.
Kobe Dickson scored 17 points and Elijah Hawkins had 14 for Howard, which shot 34%.
Howard: The Bison didn't convert consecutive baskets until late in the first half and only four times all night. They did manage to lead Kentucky on the glass for a while, especially offensively, but were no match once Kentucky became more assertive.
Kentucky: The absences of all three regulars opened up a lot of minutes for others, and the results were encouraging. Reeves and Fredrick were a strong backcourt tandem, and the Wildcats showed depth in outscoring Howard's bench 32-15.