New game, same impact for Nick Richards.
In this one, Richards’ second-half return from foul trouble carried the Cats back from a six-point halftime deficit, all the way to a nine-point win in the first true road game of the year. Richards scored 13 points and grabbed five rebounds in the second half alone, when Kentucky outscored Georgia, 47-32.
Tom Crean was quick to point out what changed after halftime.
“They out-rebounded us by 11 in the second half, points off turnovers got us — and a lot of that had to do with Nick Richards,” Crean explained in his postgame press conference. “We don’t have a matchup for Nick Richards. We didn’t do a great job on a lot of their guys, but Nick Richards changed the game. We know when he plays well, they play well, and that’s exactly what happened tonight.”
If not for foul trouble, Richards likely would’ve notched his seventh double-double of the season; instead, settled for 17 points and seven rebounds in his 25 minutes played.
Crean would add, “They didn’t have as good a first half because they didn’t have Nick Richards in. They had a much better half because Nick Richards was in. He’s playing at a very high level right now.”
As for John Calipari’s thoughts on his star big man, he said after the game, “(Nick)’s getting better. He started playing basketball when he was fourteen, so it’s taking him more time, but who cares how long it takes? It’s the point of, can I get to the point where I’m a significant player? And he is now.”
Some might say Richards is Kentucky’s most significant player.