LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- I'm not concerned if I short arm or brick several items in this column. Oscar Tshiebwe will grab them and make them right.

That is his specialty. That is his gift. That is his passion.

A love affair is raging in Rupp Arena. Tshiebwe has raced onto the list of the most popular University of Kentucky players of the John Calipari Era.

Not because Tshiebwe is a blazer like John Wall, the original Mr. Popularity under Calipari. Not because he's brought a national championship to town like Anthony Davis. Not because he is the centerpiece of a team starting the season 38-0 like Karl Anthony-Towns.

No, this love affair is built on an appreciation of grit, hard work and the enormous ticker Tshiebwe has shown in his first 11 games as a Wildcat.

Games like Wednesday night in Rupp when Tshiebwe collected 28 rebounds in Kentucky’s jarring 95-60 victory over Western Kentucky, four days after the Hilltoppers rang up a 10-point win over Louisville, which was not able to play UK Wednesday night because of too many positive COVID tests on the Cardinals' roster.

UK fans have started counting rebounds the way they have always counted three-point shots. Every time Tshiebwe is shown on the video board, the crowd confirms his status as this team’s most beloved player.

Why not? Not only were Tshiebwe's 28 rebounds one more than the entire WKU team, they were also 20 more than any of the 21 other players who performed in the game. And a Rupp Arena record that he took from Shaquille O'Neal.

Now here are Ten More Wild and Dazzling Oscar Tshiebwe Rebounding Stats:

1. Tshiebwe has 170 rebounds in Kentucky's first 11 games. That is 5 more rebounds than Isaiah Jackson collected last season while leading Kentucky with 165 boards in 25 games.

2. Tshiebwe improved his season rebounding average to 15.5 against WKU. The last Division I men's player to average 15 rebounds over an entire season was Larry Smith, who averaged 15.1 for Alcorn State in 1980.

The last player to average more than 15.5 was Monti Davis, who averaged 16.2 for Tennessee State in 1979.

3. According to the numbers at Ken Pomeroy's analytics site, Tshiebwe leads the nation in offensive rebounding percentage.

He has grabbed 24% of Kentucky's missed shots. Second on the list is Zach Edey, Purdue's 7 foot, 4 inch center at 21.1%.

Day'Ron Sharpe of North Carolina led the nation in offensive rebounding percentage last season -- at 18.2 percent. Pomeroy's numbers begin with the 2003-04 season. No player has averaged better than 23.6.

4. Tshiebwe also leads the nation in defensive rebounding percentage. He has grabbed 36.6% of the shots that UK opponents have missed. That's correct, more than a third. That is 3 full percentage points better than runner-up James Butler of Drexel.

5. The last player from a Power 5 conference to lead the nation with a rebounding average of 15 or more per game was Neal Walk.

He played at Florida and averaged 19.8.

That was 1969.

6. During the Calipari Era, which started during the 2009-10 season, two players have averaged double figure rebounds -- Davis (2012) and Julius Randle (2014).

Both averaged 10.4.

7. Only three players in UK history have averaged better than 15.5 rebounds per game -- and none played in the last 66 seasons.

The all time leader is Bob Burrow, at 17.7 in 1955. Second is Bill Spivey, who averaged 17.2 in 1951. Third is Cliff Hagan with 16.5 in 1952.

8. Tshiebwe has 170 rebounds and 10 double-figure rebound games in his first 11 games as a Wildcat. Anthony Davis had 109 rebounds and four double-figure games in his first 11 as a Wildcat.

Davis finished that national championship season with 23 double-figure rebound games.

9. Tshiebwe has overtaken Trayce Jackson-Davis of Indiana, Drew Timme of Gonzaga, Trevion Williams of Purdue and Chet Holmgren of Gonzaga to move into second place in Ken Pomeroy's national player of the year standings.

The only player ranked ahead of him is E.J. Liddell of Ohio State.

10. Tshiebwe's is averaging 3.4 more rebounds per game than Kofi Cockburn of Illinois, 6.4 more per game than Hunter Dickinson of Michigan and nearly triple the average of Timme (5.7), the consensus front-runner for national player of the year.

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