In a 21-point, 12-rebound, 4-block performance, Kentucky center Nick Richards did just about everything right. He was efficient – the junior big man finished 9-13 shooting – scored in a variety of ways with relative ease, defended well, and rebounded with aggression.
Plenty stuck out about his performance, but one play in particular set Rupp Arena (and the internet as a whole) on fire.
Up 12 points with 5:03 to go in the second half, caught the ball at the top of the key, drove to the basket, Euro-stepped around a Missouri defender, and rolled the floater home.
For a 7-foot center with primary jurisdiction in the key to go with an occasional baseline jumper or two, it was poetry in motion.
Nick Richards in his bag today with this euro step runner. ??? pic.twitter.com/3of8KLybc8
— Not Scott Charlton (@Scott_Charlton2) January 4, 2020
After the game, Richards was pretty proud of his guard-like finish in the second half.
“My Euro-step? It’s something I’ve been working on,” the junior center said. “I heard about it from every one of my teammates [after the game]. They didn’t know I had that in my bag.”
While Richards said it’s a new trick up his sleeve, Kentucky teammate Immanuel Quickley said that he has seen him working on it in pickup games.
And as we saw tonight, it’s not too shabby.
“[After the play,] I was going down the court doing [Richards’ version of the Euro-step],” he said. “He does it in pick-up [games], he does stuff like that during pick-up, but he never does it in the game. I just don’t understand why. I’m sure we’ll look at that in film and go crazy.”
Immanuel Quickley says Nick Richards practices his Euro-step in pickup games “all the time,” adds that he doesn’t know why he doesn’t do it more often in real games: pic.twitter.com/yKgVsvKV0B
— Jack Pilgrim (@JackPilgrimKSR) January 4, 2020
When asked whether or not he has perfected the Euro-step finish, Richards said that while he’s getting better, it remains a work in progress.
He hopes, though, it becomes an eventual staple in his game.
“Nah, it’s not [perfected yet],” he said. “You always need to work on stuff. I’ve got to get it perfect.”
Richards continued that he gets the confidence to take shots like that in the games with consistent practice and individual workouts with his coaches.
And while his confidence is growing in the shot-taking (and making) department, he knows he can’t get arrogant.
“Just everything in practice and all the workouts I’ve been through,” he said. “Eventually, it’s going to show up on the court. And you can see that it’s coming. It’s coming. It’s coming to fruition right now. I just can’t get arrogant with it, I need to be smart with it, be humble with it. Everything will follow through.”