Tyrese Maxey celebrated a birthday on Monday, a day before his first collegiate game at Kentucky, against No. 1 Michigan State in Madison Square Garden. Ellen Calipari brought her trademark birthday brownies to New York for the freshman guard and told him she hopes they help him play with “superhuman ability.” He was pretty close to superhuman against the Spartans, scoring 26 points to lead the Wildcats to victory. It was the most points by a freshman in their UK debut.
After the game, Maxey sat at the table in his first postgame press conference and told a room full of college basketball reporters, “This is an amazing birthday celebration. I’m very happy for me and my guys. It was a lot of fun out there and I wouldn’t want to go to war with anybody else.”
Three of Maxey’s freshman-record 26 points came on a long three-pointer that put the game away in the final minute, a huge shot for a new 19-year-old playing in his first career game. But to Maxey, it’s a shot he’s hit many times before.
“I shoot that shot a thousand times,” he said. “I shot it a thousand times in high school, I shot it a thousand times this summer, and I have confidence in myself because I put in the work. He dropped his back foot and I knew I was going to knock it down.”
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Maxey’s backcourt teammate, sophomore point guard Ashton Hagans, who also had a big game, said, “I expect that from Tyrese. He was doing it in high school, AAU… Me and him have been competing (in practices) and he brought that to the court today and that’s what we’re going to need for our team to be at our best.”
So what will Maxey remember most from his debut game on the big stage?
“Looking up at the zeros and seeing that we were ahead of the other team, and that we won.”