Oscar Tshiebwe singlehandedly overpowers Colonials


Tyler Gallo

Oscar Tshiebwe celebrates after his teammate nails a three on Friday. Photo credit: Tyler Gallo

Tyler Gallo

LEXINGTON, Ky.– Before the season, Kentucky forward Oscar Tshiebwe, who transferred from West Virginia, said he would like to average 20 rebounds a game.

He has proved his words right thus far throughout the young season, averaging exactly that number after pulling 20 after Kentucky’s loss to Duke and another 20 after last night’s game against Robert Morris.

“Coach [Calipari] told me when I got here, you have to find your role,” Tshiebwe said following their 100-60 win over Robert Morris. “I told him that I wanted to rebound because rebounding is going to help us win the game.”

His back-to-back 20-rebound efforts set a slew of records, including the single-game Rupp Arena rebounding record and breaking Dan Issel’s record for most through two games as a Wildcat.

The forward’s 22 offensive rebounds are tied with Paul Millsap for the most offensive boards in a two-game span at the D-I level over the past 25 seasons.

Tshiebwe made sure he reached the mark by pleading his case with Coach Calipari when he had 19 late in the game and was subbed out.

“We always mark how many threes we make here, but I think for him, we should start marking rebounds because he’s going to go out and get them,” Calipari said. “It became almost silly to watch, he would fight and grab them and run away with it.”

Through two games at Kentucky, Tshiebwe is averaging 15.5 points and 20 rebounds, representing the exact player the Wildcats knew they were bringing in.

“I’ve got to do a lot of work and be in the position to go and get the ball. It takes a lot of hard work, especially knowing where my teammates are on the floor.”

On the other side of the floor watching Tshiebwe’s monstrous effort was Robert Morris head coach Andy Toole, who was thoroughly impressed with the forward.

“He goes every time. The best rebounders go all the time, he usually doesn’t leave the paint at all during the possession so he’s already there which makes it hard when you can’t move him anywhere and he’s allowed to stand in front of the rim,” Toole said. “There were possessions tonight where he didn’t leave the paint at all and it didn’t have anything to do with the outcome of the game but it makes it hard to wedge him out or box him out.”

Calipari noted the presence Tshiebwe brings to the Kentucky roster but also mentioned the burden the forward takes on every game.

“He’s a great kid, smiles every day. I’m trying not to give him too much [work], but we still don’t have a good post scheme yet for him so we can do that.”

Tshiebwe nearly out-rebounded the entirety of the Colonials’ roster in the win, finishing with 20 to RMU’s 23.

He’s no stranger to averaging a plethora of rebounds, averaging 9.3 in 2019-20 and 7.8 last season as a member of the Mountaineers.

The native of the Democratic Republic of the Congo will look to continue his strong start to the season on Tuesday in the next leg of the Kentucky Classic against Mount St. Mary’s.