The 4/5 matchups have produced fireworks in the first round of KSR’s BBN Jam Tournament. Kept out of the NCAA Tournament in 2020, Junior Nick Richards and SEC Player of the Year Immanuel Quickley have a chance to pull off an upset and make a run to the Final Four against some of the best to ever wear blue and white.
John Calipari and many folks reading this believed the 2020 Wildcats were capable of reaching the Final Four and bringing home No. 9. In 2005 Tubby Smith’s Wildcats were a few fateful overtime periods away from reaching that promised land.
Hayes was a fan-favorite. At only six-feet six-inches tall, he was still one of the fiercest centers in the SEC. A bruiser in the paint, he was named First Team All-SEC and Defensive Player of the Year in his final season at Kentucky. Only six Wildcats have logged more rebounds at Kentucky than Hayes, a member of the UK Athletics Hall of Fame as of 2016.
Along with help from Kelenna Azubuike, Tubby Smith’s top-ranked recruiting class brought in Randolph Morris, Ramel Bradley, Joe Crawford, Rajon Rondo and Western Kentucky transfer, Patrick Sparks. The sharp-shooting Central City native quickly etched his name into UK lore with one incredible second half against Louisville. Trailing by 16 at the intermission, Sparks scored 15 of his career-high 25 points in the final 20 minutes, capping off the largest comeback in school history with a play that will forever strike a cord with all Cards’ fans.
Three months later, Sparks did it again. Trailing by three to Michigan State in the waning seconds of the Elite Eight, chaos ensued. When the ball finally rolled through the rim, it was the biggest shot I’d ever witnessed as a young Kentucky fan (yes, an Elite Eight was that big of a deal before John Calipari arrived).
Another thing, Sparks got fouled on the three. It should have been an And One, ballgame. Secondly, Sparks’ celebration made the play even more incredible. He sprinted over to the scorer’s table and barked at Billy Packer. Sparks got it.
Unfortunately, Rondo was in foul trouble and Tubby Smith refused to start him in either of the two overtime periods. By the second, the Cats had too much ground to overcome, falling to the Spartans 94-88 in Austin.
TALE OF THE TAPE
Sparks and Hayes played their part to become fan favorites. How they would match up against Quickley and Richards is another thing.
Standing just a hair under seven-feet tall, Richards obviously has a size advantage, one that is moot against Hayes. In fact, Hayes is the perfect player to give Richards problems in the post, using his strength to push him off the block and disrupt Richards’ signature hook shot. It’s difficult to discern who would have the upper hand inside.
On the outside, Sparks has the big shots and the ability to get hot. It still should not be enough to keep up with the 2020 SEC Player of the Year. Like Sparks, Quickley was prone to some not-so-hot shooting nights. When he struggled to score, he got to the free throw line, something that does not apply in this situation. However, it’s hard to see a world where Sparks can slow down Quickley’s floater and ensure he isn’t lighting it up from behind the three-point line.
The NBA 2K simulation favors the 2020 squad in this matchup. Who do you think survives this 4/5 matchup?
Big Nick Energy!! @DrewFranklinKSR
2020- 21, 2005- 14
Nick: 14 PTS, 25 REB, 9 BLK, 14-23
Quick: 7 PTS, 13 REB, 7-30
Sparks: 7 PTS, 12 REB, 7-27
Hayes: 7 PTS, 18 REB, 7-24 pic.twitter.com/sAiHk8qixw
— BBN JAM Simulation (@JamSimulation) April 8, 2020
BBN JAM! Could this year's Cats take down a team that was two overtimes away from the Final Four? https://kentuckysportsradio.com/basketball-2/bbn-jam-round-one-2005-sparks-hayes-vs-2020-quickley-richards/