Ware gives the Wildcats a boost from the bench

Lance Ware is preparing for the future and does not hesitate to play behind Oscar Tshiebwe.

“Oscar is really good at the way he’s playing right now – he’s amazing,” Ware said on Tuesday. “It’s the role I’m giving right now (and) I have to make the most of it. I might pout (and) not want to play, but I’m just going to make the most of my opportunity and, you know, do what I can.

Ware proved the fifth-ranked Wildcats valuable minutes off the bench as a replacement for Tshiebwe, a national Player of the Year contender. The sophomore center scored four points and grabbed four rebounds in the Wildcats’ 80-62 win at Kansas last Saturday.

“I try to bring as much energy as possible, to provide a spark, whether that means bouncing back while Oscar takes a break, blocking shots or just making the right play, just coming in and doing whatever I can. , whether it’s for five or 10 minutes, do whatever I can to help the team maintain momentum or go ahead and just start,” he said.

Ware added that competing against Tshiebwe in training every day has been a blessing and one he doesn’t take for granted.

“Obviously (he has) done me a lot better,” he said. “The physical part of being able to try and bounce off him and boxing and stuff like that because you’re not going to find someone too often that’s built like him and can do the things he can do. I love it, even if it’s a challenge every day, but it’s good. That’s why I came here. – a challenge, and I definitely get it with Oscar.

Kentucky assistant coach Chin Coleman admires the way Ware has handled adversity this season, especially after playing a major role on last year’s team.

“He kept doing extra work in the gym,” he said. “He’s still in the gym. He’s always a selfless guy, he’s the biggest cheerleader for everyone. Me and I talked to Lance and told him his time would come. He’s going to be a big chunk to help us be great.. … I’m so happy for him because he could have folded. He could have walked into the tank and pouted and listened to the clutter. But he’s doing an amazing job and we’re happy to have Lance and he’s going to help us a lot.

Kentucky coach John Calipari praised Ware’s recent play, which Ware said gave him more confidence.

“It just makes me want to work harder,” he said. “If he gives me that praise, I want to keep performing. I just don’t want to be just one game. I want him to keep improving every game. And, you know, helping my team every game. match.

Ware hopes the Wildcats can build on the team’s success in victory over the Jayhawks last Saturday, a win that lifted Kentucky to fifth in the latest Associated Press Top 25 poll released Monday. Ware said the team cannot focus on past successes moving forward.

“We know there are bigger goals and we still have to win games,” he said. “Obviously beating Kansas (was) a big win that we needed. But there’s still a lot to do. Hopefully that will move us forward and we can build on it. We just don’t want that this will be our last great victory.

game tracking: Vanderbilt at Kentucky, Wednesday, 7 p.m. TV/Radio: SEC Network, UK radio network.

Keith Taylor is a sportswriter for Kentucky Today. Reach him at [email protected] and via Twitter at keithtaylor21.

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