Oscar Tshiebwe has been rebounding incredibly this entire season. He grabbed 20 boards in Kentucky’s opener against Duke, then got another 20 three days later against Robert Morris. He secured 16 rebounds in three of the Wildcats’ subsequent five games. All of it is awesome. But the 6-foot-9 junior turned in his most awesome performance to date Wednesday night when he grabbed a Rupp Arena-record 28 rebounds in Kentucky’s 95-60 blowout of Western Kentucky.
Tshiebwe actually out-rebounded WKU by himself.
He grabbed 28. The Hilltoppers had 27.
“I’m not the tallest guy — but I think I have a big heart,” Tshiebwe said after the win, according to The Athletic. “When you need something, it does not matter how big you are. When you go for it, you’re gonna get it.”
That’s obviously not true for everybody — but it’s pretty close to true for Tshiebwe, who is now averaging a national-best 15.5 rebounds per game, which is 1.8 boards per contest more than anybody else. According to KenPom.com, his defensive-rebounding percentage is 36.6 and his offensive-rebounding percentage is 24.0. Both numbers lead the nation, meaning Tshiebwe has a good chance to become the first player to lead the sport in both of those categories since Morehead State’s Kenneth Faried did it in 2011.
According to ESPN Stats and Info, there have only been three 10-point/20-rebound performances by a Kentucky player in the past 25 seasons — and all three of them belong to Tshiebwe, who has still only played 11 games in a UK uniform. So while he does not appear to be the same kind of NBA prospect that fellow bigs Anthony Davis, Karl-Anthony Towns and DeMarcus Cousins were when they starred for the Wildcats, it should be noted that Tshiebwe is doing things at the collegiate level none of them ever did.
Kentucky remains No. 22 in Thursday morning’s updated CBS Sports Top 25 And 1 daily college basketball rankings. The Wildcats’ next game isn’t until next Wednesday, when they’ll open the SEC portion of their schedule against Missouri.