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Calipari still waiting for EJ Montgomery’s breakout game, but knows he “changed the game” against against Mississippi State

EJ Montgomery made some mistakes against the Mississippi State Bulldogs, but he also made some clutch plays to help the Cats finally pull away in the second half. One, of course, was his block that set up Nick Richards’ fast-break dunk.

“I keep telling [Mongtomery], he’s going to break through and everybody is going to say, ‘Oh, my gosh, who is this guy?’” Calipari said after the win. “I mean, did you see him block that shot? It changed the game. If we had another big guy in, and he just acted like, ‘well, it’s not my man,’ and didn’t block that shot and that ball goes in, we could have lost the game. That changed the game.”

In addition to his “game-changing” block, Montgomery also sank his first three-point ball of the season.

“I told him, ‘It’s the first one you made all year. It’s good that you made one finally,'” Calipari laughed.

On the season, Montgomery is shooting just under 46 percent from the floor and, thanks to his single trey, 20 percent from the three-point line. He’s recorded double-digit minutes in four of the Cats’ last five games, but he’s taken the second-fewest shots out of all of the players in the main rotation (Richards has taken the fewest (41); Montgomery has taken 74). And although Montgomery’s game may not be progressing as quickly as some of his teammates’ (see: Ashton Hagans, Tyler Herro), the other Wildcats have his back.

“EJ [Montgomery] had a great game. The stats sheet won’t show that, but it felt like he had 20 [points] and 10 [rebounds] for us,” PJ Washington said. We’re happy for him. He blocks shots and rebounds really well, so once he gets his time on the court, he’s going to do great with it.”

Part of his issue is still confidence. As one of four Kentucky big men in the rotation, Montgomery doesn’t always have the opportunity – or, perhaps, directive – to step back and take shots.

“We know he can make shots – he does it in practice a lot,” Washington said. “We’re willing to let him take those in a game. He just has to be confident and let those go. One went in today, and I think his confidence went up as well.”

If he can hone in on his shooting ability while still grabbing rebounds and blocking shots, the ball will really be in his court.

“We had a stretch where our two bigs [Washington and Travis] were going through the motions and couldn’t fight. Okay, bang: you’re out. We’ll play these two, [Montgomery and Nick Richards],” Calipari said after Tuesday’s game. “And I told those two, play as many minutes as you can play. You need a break, let me know. We’ll sub a guy off the bench and when you want to go back in, you go back in.”

Not a bad deal. But if he’s going to be the game changer Calipari believes him to be, he still has some work to do.


Article written by Maggie Davis

I love sports, podcasts, long walks on the beach and Twitter (@MaggieDavisKSR)

12 Comments for Calipari still waiting for EJ Montgomery’s breakout game, but knows he “changed the game” against against Mississippi State

  1. Smyrna_Cat
    9:39 pm January 23, 2019 Permalink

    Wow. Vandy got ripped off against TN. Some HORRIBLE calls.

    • BBNnCLE
      9:45 pm January 23, 2019 Permalink

      Vandy had its chances but yeah, that was awful.

    • RealCatsFan
      9:52 pm January 23, 2019 Permalink

      Yeah, I commented about it on the other thread. That flagrant hook and hold they called on Vandy when they were up 6 was complete BS. Vandy would have had the ball up 6 with about 30 seconds left.

      And Williams is a helluva player, but the refs give him every break. They are very beatable- looking forward to seeing the Cats take them down.

  2. BBNnCLE
    9:55 pm January 23, 2019 Permalink

    Agreed RealCatsFan Feb. 16 cant come soon enough. My favorite was when Williams lowered his shoulder, didn’t get called for a charge, falls down and instead of calling a travel they call a block from the sequence five seconds before. That one really had me wondering what was going on.

  3. KYjellyRoll
    9:59 pm January 23, 2019 Permalink

    Crazy call there at the end of regulation. Oh well that’s the way it goes…0-5 Vandy team have them all they wanted. And should have won. Can’t wait

  4. mikeintn
    10:00 pm January 23, 2019 Permalink

    Vandy won the game period, it’s a shame that 3 guys can take the win from them. I hope none of them ever get to call another game. Hook and hold my [email protected]@

  5. kentuckybackupplayer
    10:17 pm January 23, 2019 Permalink

    if kentucky players ram their shoulder into a defender like williams does its a charge every time and when williams does it he gets an and 1 ever time.

  6. Racerr11
    10:39 pm January 23, 2019 Permalink

    It’s sickening to watch the officiating in games and makes it hard to watch. Flagrant on vandy was terrible non flagrant they wouldn’t look at and then the one where they said they just got tangled and clearly there was a hard elbow thrown by tennessee. It’s sickening and something needs to be done.

  7. Racerr11
    10:39 pm January 23, 2019 Permalink

    Call the SEC commissioner.

    • BBNnCLE
      10:46 pm January 23, 2019 Permalink

      He’s probably elated that UT is still #1

  8. Aar
    5:25 am January 24, 2019 Permalink

    The way the Cats are playing and trending as a team and individually, I think this team’s ceiling is number 9. If that happens, I think that BBN will have only one veteran to cheer for next season. That is because it will take eight players to produce at a level that proves NBA (our overseas pro if that fits their dreams) level readiness to win it all. If the Cats fall quite a ways short of number 9, I like a frontcourt starting tandem of Montgomery and Richards for next season. Combining them with the backcourt that is already committed, the 2019-20 Cats could be really good. Cal will win more frontcourt recruits but I like the guys we already got.

  9. Wade
    1:16 pm January 24, 2019 Permalink

    Every game he gets a chance he’s building towards something and we will know come March. This Kansas game is a chance to build confidence. I think if he can get 5 pts 5 boards a block or a steal he will start to feel like a contributor. He still needs to just let the game come to him and not overthink which I think has been his problem. Cals system is pretty simple for 5* to succeed in. He has all the tools to be big time.