#15 Wildcats come up big on the road in the Big 12/SEC Challenge against #18 Texas Tech. It was a home coming for Tyrese Maxey as he is the only player on the Kentucky roster who hails from the state of Texas. This game did not disappoint, it was a back and forth game from the start. There were 8 lead changes and the score was tied 9 times throughout the game but Kentucky held off the Red Raiders 76-74 in an overtime thriller.
Let’s look at the stats, lots of career nights for some guys. Playing a career-high 42 minutes, Immanuel Quickley had 21 points and 6 rebounds, and went 4 of 8 on 3-point shots, in the last 8 games IQ is averaging nearly 18 points per game. Let’s not forget that half court shot he sank at the buzzer to end the first half. Also playing a career-high-tying 43 minutes, Ashton Haganshad 6 points, 5 rebounds, 7 assists and 3 steals. Nate Sestina seems to be getting back in the groove of things since that Utah game, he finished with just 8 points before fouling out, but hit 2 clutch 3 points down the stretch. The man of the game was none other than Nick Richards playing a career-high 39 minutes, Richards finished tying a career high 25 points and 14 rebounds, his eighth double-double in 19 games. He had one double-double in 74 games prior to this season. He shot 7 of 10 from the field, 11 of 14 free throws, including 5 of 5 in the overtime.
Even though this was a back and forth battle Kentucky never trailed in the second half. The Cats had 20 turnovers, that is something they will need to clean up as the season rolls on. Next up: Kentucky returns to Southeastern Conference action Wednesday at home vs. Vanderbilt. Game time is 6:30 p.m. and the game can be seen on the SEC Network.
#15 Kentucky pushed their record to 14-4 overall (5-1 in SEC) and grabbed a 89-79 win in their second meeting against the Georgia Bulldogs. Kentucky started out hot as they jumped to a 6-0 lead. Ashton Hagans continues to prove why he is one of the best point guards in the country, he finished with 23 points, 4 steals, 9 assists, and 5 rebounds as he ran the show for the Cats. Nick Richards had another solid and impressive outing finishing with 20 points, 3 blocks, and 8 rebounds. Immanuel Quickley finish with 12 points, 4 rebounds and 2 assists and another all-around solid game. Keion Brooks continues to get better each game, he finished with 8 points and 5 boards. EJ Montgomery is beginning to find his role and ended with 10 points, 1 steal, 2 blocks, and 6 rebounds. Kentucky was terrific from the free-throw line as the went 26-33 (78.8%). The Cats committed just 11 turnovers while dishing out 15 assists. The Cats will have to learn how to maintain their command late in games if they wanna make a run at another SEC title. Kentucky’s next game will be against Texas Tech at Lubbock Texas in the SEC Big 12 challenge, this game can be found on ESPN January 25th at 6 PM.
#14 Kentucky Basketball knocks off Alabama 76-67 at home to grab 1000th SEC victory and 4th win in a row in front of 20,407 at Rupp. Big man Nick Richards is still letting everyone know who owns the paint in Kentucky with 5 blocked shots. Richards finished with his seventh double-double of 13 points and 11 rebounds. Ashton Hagans was near a triple-double with 15 points, 9 rebounds, 9 assists and 3 steals to boot. EJ Montgomery’s stat line isn’t super impressive but the Cats were most productive when he was on the floor. Montgomery finished with 8 points (4-6 from the floor) and 6 rebounds. All eyes were on Sophomore Immanuel Quickley as he continues to play off the bench and averaging 18.8 points per game during the win streak, this game was no different he finished with 19 points and 5-6 from behind the arch, 5 rebounds and 3 assists. It looks like the Cats took a lesson from the UK Women earlier in the week as they finished 9-15 from behind the arch a season best 60%, they will need that consistency as they get deeper into SEC play.
Kentucky plays at South Carolina on Wednesday at 6:30 p.m., the game will be televised on the SEC Network.
#14 Kentucky Women’s Basketball was on the road at Alabama for SEC play and was able to pick up a win 81-71 with DOMINATE play by Rhyne Howard, we will talk about her more in a minute. The Cats trailed much of the first half before getting things going. Kentucky got hot from behind the arch hitting 16 of 31 and setting a new school record with most 3s in a game. Kentucky also came up big in the steal department finishing with 10 as a team. Sabrina Haines continues to be solid on both ends of the floor, she finished with 11 points and 5 rebounds. Amanda Paschal took care of business and finished with 10 points and 5 assists but all eyes were on Sophomore Rhyne Howard who was recently names Player of the Week. We could maybe already tag her Player of the Year, for the second straight game she set a career high with 43 points, tying a school record, following up her 37 against Tennessee at home. Howard’s stat line didn’t stop there she added 9 rebounds, 2 blocked shots, 3 steals and 5 rebounds. The win takes Kentucky to 13-2 overall and 2-1 in a tight SEC Conference. Kentucky returns to action on Sunday, visiting Gainesville to take on Florida. Tipoff is set for noon ET and the game can be seen on SEC Network Plus.
#13 Kentucky Women’s Basketball bounces back after a tough loss on the road at #4 South Carolina to win in front of a big crowd at Memorial against the #22 Tennessee Volunteers 80-76. This takes Kentucky to 12-2 overall and 1-1 in SEC play. The Cats shot 13 of 27 from the 3-point line (48.1%) which came up huge in the long run. KeKe McKinney had an all-around solid game before she fouled out late in the game and finished with 8 points, 2 of 2 from behind the arch, 4 rebounds, and 1 assist. Sabrina Haines had another great game as her leadership is valuable to Kentucky and she had 11 points, 5 rebounds, 50% from behind the arch, and 4 assists. Rhyne Howard had a milestone game finishing with a career-high 37 points and had 9 rebounds, 5 assists and 3 steals, also was named ESPN’s Women’s Player of the Week. The Cats forced 21 turnovers to just their 13 turnovers. During the post game press conference KeKe McKinney and Rhyne Howard were both asked about their recruitment with Tennessee prior to choosing Kentucky, they both said they both got their last offers from Tennessee. KeKe also said even though it was a dream to attend Tennessee she is where she is supposed to be and loves her team. I guess you could say their loss was our gain, right? The Cats will face the Roll Tide in Tuscaloosa, Alabama on Thursday at 8:00 PM ET and can be found on the SECNetwork.
The Missouri Tigers came into Rupp Arena and a crowd of 20,396 to face #17 Kentucky. The Cats have had a week off since that huge rivalry win against the Louisville Cardinals back on December 28th. The Tigers jumped out to a 17-9 lead before the Kentucky got things rolling as Nick Richards scored the first 14/16 points for the Cats. Richards has come to play the past two games and we are beginning to see him take a new role on the floor coaching up his teammates during breaks in play. Today he finished with 21 points, 12 rebounds and 4 big blocks before fouling out late in the 2nd half. Ashton Hagans had another solid outing dishing out a game high 7 assists and adding 7 points and 5 rebounds. We heard about his improvement all summer and his has lived up to the hype, Immanuel Quickley finished the day with 23 points, 4/8 from behind the arch and 3 rebounds. The big take away from the game today was free throw shooting with 27/30 and Quickley on a 24 made streak. The road to March doesn’t get any easier as the Cats have a quick turnaround Tuesday game as they travel to Georgia, game time is 9 pm EST and can be seen on ESPN.
#19 Kentucky wins the Battle of the Bluegrass with a victory over rival #3 Louisville from 75 miles up the road 78-70 in OT. The game was back and forth for 40 minutes in front of a season-high 20,437 fans but at the end of regulation the game was tied. In overtime the Cats played to win with key shots and great defense. In the final seconds Nick Richards took a hard foul and players briefly came together before heading to their benches. Tyrese Maxey finished the night with 27 points, and 7 huge rebounds and a great defensive effort. Nick Richard’s confidence rose this game as he finished with key buckets in overtime as he left the game with a double-double 13 points, 10 rebounds, and 1 block. Aston Hagans had another all-around game and a huge steal and block in overtime to put the nail in the casket with 8 points, 2 steals, 8 assist, 5 rebounds, and 1 block. EJ Montgomery had a huge defensive game grabbing key rebounds and a couple huge blocks as he had only 4 points, 5 rebounds, and 2 blocks. Immanuel Quickley was a free throw monster late in the game finishing 8 of 8 for the line as he had 18 points, 1 assist, and 3 rebounds. The Cats look to be back on track from their Vegas skid. Kentucky’s next game is SEC opener at home against Missouri Saturday January 4th and can be watch on the SECNetwork as the Cats look to go on a 2-game win streak and to 10-3 on the season.
Now that Christmas has come and gone, I only have one last wish. I wish that Big Blue Nation would REALLY be True Blue. Here is what I mean. Get behind your players and get behind your team (men and women), good or bad. These players are kids just like me. When someone makes fun of me or yells at me it makes me feel bad and I don’t do my best cause I don’t think I am good enough. My Mom says bullying is mistreating someone else, so really when you are being mean to the players and coaches you are being a bully. They aren’t going to win every game, they aren’t going to play a perfect game but they are good people and that’s more important in the end cause it’s bigger than basketball.
You want to know what you can do to help them? It’s really easy. CHEER THEM ON!! I see lots of people at games that never stand up, that never clap their hands, some that never watch the game. If you go to Rupp Arena or Memorial Coliseum stand up, clap your hands, cheer and show them how much you support them and how excited that you are there. It’s really sad that sometimes when I am standing and cheering people tell me to sit down. Say what? I mean why else do you go to the game, right?
So Big Blue Nation, stand up, yell loud, be proud and show the rest of the world why we are THE GREATEST TRADITION IN ALL OF COLLEGE BASKETBALL. Oh yeah and do it at EVERY single game not just when we play big teams and rivals. So with that said…
#14 Kentucky Women headed out to Cali to take on the Golden Bears and Rhyne Howard would spoil their holidays with a game winner giving the Cats a 63-61 victory. That win takes the Cats to 11-1 headed into Christmas Break. We got our first look at transfer guard Chasity Patterson who finished with 9 points and 4 rebounds. Jaida Roper had 6 points and 3 rebounds before fouling out of the game along with Tatyana Wyatt who finished with just 4 points but a game high 8 rebounds. Rhyne Howard stole the show, if you remember she missed that last second shot against Louisville nearly one week ago, she got a second chance against the Golden Bears and this time came up big with a mid-range with the clock winding down. Howard finished the night with a game high 29 points and 5 rebounds. The Cats forced 22 turnovers to their 11, taking care of the basketball will be huge as they head into SEC play after the holidays. Kentucky returns to action on Jan. 2, facing South Carolina in Columbia. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. ET and the game can be seen on the SEC Network.
The West was Wild and Vegas wasn’t good to the Kentucky Wildcats. The Cats got the week under way going up against the University of Utah in the Neon Hoops Showcase. Nate Sestina was back in the lineup after a wrist injury had him sidelined since just before Thanksgiving. EJ Montgomery finished the night with 8 points and 10 rebounds, Nick Richards again found himself in foul trouble and finished with just 5 points and 4 rebounds. Immanuel Quickley who has been hot lately had a quiet night and finished with just 4 points, 4 rebounds, 2 steals and 2 assists. Tyrese Maxey and Ashton Hagan combined for 34 of the Cats 66 total points. Maxey finished with 18 points and Hagans added 16 points, 8 assists and 2 steals. The Cats shot only 2-17 from behind the arch for 11.8%, Cal always says you don’t have to make them all but you can’t miss them all, in this case they were close. The Wildcats could never get things going and fall to the Utes 69-66 taking them to 8-2 on the season. They didn’t have time to think about this loss as they had a quick turnaround to get ready for the #5 Ohio State Buckeyes in the CBS Sports Classic on Saturday, December 21st back at T-Mobile Arena.
The Wildcats were coming off a late night loss to Utah and looked to rebound against the #5 Buckeyes in another Vegas showdown. The Cats came out much more intense than they have in past games and it didn’t take Nate Sestina long to get hot, he finished with a team high 17 points going 5-8 from the 3 point line. Tyrese Maxey had another good outing and finished with 15 points, 5 rebounds and 3 assists before fouling out. Ashton Hagan continues being a threat on the floor as he had 14 points and 9 assists. Nick Richards got in early foul trouble and spent much of the game watching from the sideline. The Cats pulled within a point late in the 2nd half but couldn’t keep the momentum as the Buckeyes pulled away and took down the #6 Wildcats 71-65 taking them to 8-3 on the season. Just a reminder to Big Blue Nation March > December. The Wildcats play host to in state rival the Louisville Cardinals on Dec. 28. Game time is 3:45 p.m. and the game will be televised on CBS.