Lost in the shuffle of De’Aaron Fox’s historic night was Malik Monk’s reemergence. After shooting only 20% from thee-point land in March heading into last night’s game, Monk broke out in the second half, going 4-9 from behind the three-point line and 8-17 from the floor. Fourteen of Monk’s 21 points came in the second half, and his teammate Dominique Hawkins said when Malik saw that first three finally — mercifully! — drop into the basket, the floodgates opened.
“Once he sees the basket and the ball goes in, he feels like he needs to get the ball again to shoot another shot,” Dom said.
Not only was Monk finally on fire again from the outside, he showed no hesitation, a far cry from the player who looked so uncharacteristically gun shy vs. Wichita State. All four of Monk’s threes came from deep, one practically on the South Regional logo:
Few players get hot like Malik, and coming into the game, it felt like Kentucky couldn’t survive another game without him shooting well, so when he finally warmed up in the second half, the entire BBN cried out in relief. The team did too.
“It’s very important because we need Malik when we go down the stretch,” Hawkins said of Monk’s resurgence. “He’s an elite scorer and we rely on him to score most of the time.”
Hawkins said Monk — who had dozens of family members from nearby Lepanto in the stands — didn’t say anything to his teammates in the huddle once he got going, but the relief was written all over his face.
“He didn’t say nothing, he just smiles. When he starts smiling, that’s a good sign.”