Dontaie Allen is the MVP of the night for his performance in Kentucky’s win down in Starkville, but Bruiser Flint is a close second in the Most Valuable rankings.
Taking over for John Calipari as the head coach once Cal earned an ejection early in the second half, Flint stepped in and made the difficult but necessary decisions to put Kentucky in a position to win. It meant benching the team’s star, BJ Boston, with two minutes to go in regulation and leaving him there through two overtimes, and putting Isaiah Jackson in the seat next to him.
The result was a comeback victory, the first of the “new season.”
— Kentucky Basketball (@KentuckyMBB) January 3, 2021
Would Calipari have done the same? Sit his McDonald’s All-American wing in a back-and-forth contest? Forgive me for being skeptical. He’s had plenty of chances to play Allen, and hasn’t. But I digress. This isn’t about John Calipari right now, it’s about Bruiser Flint because Flint found the winning rotation and the winning game plan of feeding Allen down the stretch. He picked the five Kentucky guys who were fighting the hardest and playing the best basketball in Humphrey Coliseum late Saturday night, and put his trust in them to finish the job, regardless of how many minutes they had played all season.
It couldn’t have been an easy call for Flint, who’s only been with the UK program a little over four months, but he got the job done and Big Blue Nation thanks him for it. Though still Calipari’s team, Cal’s righthand man is the Coach of the Night in this one, part of a collective effort from the entire staff to turn things around.
And to be fair to the guys who were on the bench, they were still very engaged and cheering on their teammates through it all.
A big night for the team chemistry moving forward, and maybe a new direction with the offense to create better looks for everyone.