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Top takeaways from Kentucky’s 67-62 victory over Ole Miss

It wasn’t pretty, but the Wildcats got the job done in Lexington, pulling off a 67-62 victory over Ole Miss to move to 20-5 on the year and 10-2 in conference play.

What are the top takeaways from the victory?

Kentucky shot 2-22 from three

The biggest takeaway from Kentucky’s gritty – is that the right word for it? – victory is that they still managed to come out on top despite shooting a putrid 9% from three.

In the first 19 minutes of the game, the Wildcats were 0-11 from deep before Johnny Juzang knocked down the team’s first three with just 40 seconds to go in the half. They would end the half shooting 1-13 from three before waiting another nine minutes for the team’s second and last made shot from deep.

To open his postgame press conference, John Calipari made sure to tell reporters just how much he “enjoyed” Kentucky’s abysmal shooting display from three.

“All you people who think the game has passed me by?” Calipari asked. “Think we should take more threes? You still think so? Maybe we shoot 30 and go 2-for-30!”

Tough to argue with after a 9.1% performance.

Not great.

Things finally heated up in the final five minutes

After a painful back-and-forth performance that would make watching paint dry seem like a riveting experience, things finally heated up late in the second half to create one heck of a finish.

Starting at the 5:39 mark, we saw nine consecutive lead changes to bring us all the way down near the one minute mark.

With 1:11 to go, Nick Richards knocked down two free throws to take a one-point lead, with the Wildcats then spreading said lead to five to close out the game.

The preference would’ve been a blowout or even a shootout between both teams, but at least we got five solid minutes of action to close out the game.

Thank you, Nick Richards

After the game, John Calipari told the media, “It wasn’t Nick [Richards’] best day.”

Now mind you, this came after the 7-foot center finished with 16 points (6-10 shooting), seven rebounds, two blocks, and four consecutive clutch free throws in the final two minutes of the game.

Calipari’s expectations of the junior center have gone up exponentially this season – we’ve grown to consistently expect these outings, as well – but it’s only because Richards has given us reason to. Night in and night out, the former five-star recruit has put the team on his back and anchored the middle of the floor with the best of them this season.

In fact, Ole Miss coach Kermit Davis believes Richards has earned the right to be considered among the best in all of college basketball.

“He may be the best center in college basketball,” Davis said.

When the team struggled this afternoon, feeding Richards in the post was the perfect medicine for many of Kentucky’s issues. If he wasn’t scoring – and he did plenty of it – he was getting fouled, getting to the line, grabbing tough rebounds, and blocking shots.

Good things happen when you give the ball to JNR in the post, plain and simple.

Breein Tyree was good, but not a world-beater

After picking up two early first-half fouls – he had just two points on 1-3 shooting at that moment – it looked as though Ole Miss star Breein Tyree was destined for his first rough outing in two weeks.

But after settling down and finding his groove a bit, Tyree picked up where he left off over his last three games, finishing the day with 19 points on 6-16 shooting, 3-6 from three, and 4-6 from the line to go with five rebounds and a steal.

As impressive as it is to put up points in a hurry and lead a team in scoring like Tyree can, he seemed to be the least of Kentucky’s issues on Saturday.

In fact, he actually had two crucial misses from the line in the final minute of the game, missing the front end of a one-and-one with 57 seconds to go and then again with three seconds to go. If he had converted both attempts the first time around, Ole Miss would’ve taken a one-point lead. Makes both on the second, it’s a one-point deficit in the game’s final seconds where a quick steal and score could’ve won it.

Instead, his two misses crushed Ole Miss’ chances to come back and allowed for Kentucky to hang on.

What was Devontae Shuler doing to close out the game?

Speaking of choking, Ole Miss guard Devontae Shuler also managed to cost his team the game in the final seconds.

Down one point with just 30 seconds to go, instead of putting the ball in Tyree’s hands to make a play, Shuler decided to dribble the clock down to 7.5 seconds and jack up a contested three.

Air ball.


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??? at winning time, @tyresemaxey ? #BBN #TGT

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I mean seriously, what the hell was he thinking?

I have no idea, but I thank him for it.

Immanuel Quickley was clutch in the second half

In the first half, Immanuel Quickley was ice cold, finishing with just three points on 1-9 shooting, 0-5 from three, and 1-2 from the line in a team-high 19 minutes.

Kentucky was down 27-25 at the break, and Quickley’s rough start was a big reason for it.

After the break, though, Quickley put the team on his back and made tough basket after tough basket, putting the Wildcats in prime position to capitalize on the comeback.

In the second half, Quickley finished with 14 points on 3-6 shooting and 7-8 from the line, including two makes with six seconds left to spread Kentucky’s lead from one to three. At the very least, the sophomore guard’s clutch makes would have forced overtime even with a miracle heave at the buzzer from the Rebels.

Richards has become Kentucky’s stable force in the frontcourt, while Quickley has earned that role in the backcourt. Even on a poor shooting night, the sophomore guard did just enough to help lead the Cats to victory.

EJ Montgomery with another high-energy performance

Sophomore forward EJ Montgomery didn’t make a single basket, but his effort elsewhere on the floor paid off in a major way.

Whether it was grabbing tough rebounds, diving for loose balls, or forcing jump balls to swing the possession arrow back Kentucky’s direction, Montgomery was a major difference-maker in his 21 minutes on the floor.

The 6-foot-11 forward finished with just two points (2-2 FT), eight rebounds, one steal, and five fouls, but those watching the game could see Montgomery’s impact extended well beyond the box score. Kentucky needs consistent energy from the sophomore big man each time he steps on the floor, and he gave it to them against the Rebels.

Ashton Hagans reverted (again)

After turning the ball over 22 times over his last five games, Ashton Hagans ended his streak of poor play with a near triple-double on the road at Vanderbilt.

Most importantly, he slowed down and let the game come to him, allowing for an eight-assist, one-turnover performance, giving reason to believe he had overcome his recent passing and ball-handling issues.

Instead of building on the successful outing, Hagans finished with just six points (3-11 shooting, 0-5 from three), three rebounds, three assists, four turnovers, and five fouls against Ole Miss.

After the game, Calipari defended Hagans, saying the sophomore point guard was “the least of [Kentucky’s] worries” right now.

“He is the least of our worries,” Calipari said of Hagans. “Ashton is my point guard and I’m with him.”

As confident as Calipari is, with just six games left in the regular season, the clock is ticking for Hagans to clean up his play a bit.

Article written by Jack Pilgrim

Follow me on Twitter: @JackPilgrimKSR

13 Comments for Top takeaways from Kentucky’s 67-62 victory over Ole Miss

  1. michaelb
    6:10 pm February 15, 2020 Permalink

    You can see how good that tyree guy is , his handles and 1on 1 game was great .

  2. Thetruthshallsetbennyfree
    6:53 pm February 15, 2020 Permalink

    If only these kids could get it together and play a whole game the way they’ve played in the second half they’d be blowouts instead of heart attacks.

  3. BigJohnC
    6:56 pm February 15, 2020 Permalink

    I’m not a fan of these nail biters. With that being said, I’m a fan of UK and right now they’re showing poise in these close games, down 6+ points multiple times and pull out a win is showing that they’re confident and they don’t panic. They start playing with controlled chaos and I like it. Good experience for what lies ahead.

  4. JohnnyCat
    7:03 pm February 15, 2020 Permalink

    I know it is cliche to say…but these guys could beat anybody and could lose to anybody. If the three guards and Nick show up in the tourney we will be a VERY tough out for anyone. It all comes down to how the bracket shakes out. A big tough deep team like Baylor may be our undoing. But I like our chances on a neutral floor with BBN cheering like crazy. Yes, a lot of things need to go right…but with our free throw shooting and solid ball handling, these cats will be right there….and can bring home #9. Go Cats!!

  5. Fitz
    8:00 pm February 15, 2020 Permalink

    Remember how many games in recent years UK has lost games at t the foul line? Now we win them there. Who said “there’s no such thing as a free lunch”?

  6. BigBlue4EverUK
    8:38 pm February 15, 2020 Permalink

    We are “Ass” as a team , but hopefully we can go on a run tournament time.

  7. Wild Turkey 101
    8:42 pm February 15, 2020 Permalink

    A bigger win than originally predicted with LSU and Auburn losing, Kentucky is in first place of the SEC. No reason Kentucky can’t be a 3 seed if they win the SEC title.

  8. Miller45
    9:45 pm February 15, 2020 Permalink

    The Bengals 3 point game was better than ours today and we still managed to beat a rapidly improving team even though they were probably too late in the season to turn the burners on. Not to mention my dad is from there and has most of his family still living down there so I’m glad I don’t have to hear about it from them

  9. JT55
    11:50 pm February 15, 2020 Permalink

    Hopefully UK plays great Tues. But, I can see LSU beating the breaks off the cats.

    • StillBP
      6:55 am February 16, 2020 Permalink

      Beating the brakes off of us? Nah. We might not win but we’ll keep it close.

  10. dave1964
    12:26 am February 16, 2020 Permalink

    This team wow with the horrible shot selection and % and they find a way to win. Ugly but I will take it.

  11. Papaw
    8:20 am February 16, 2020 Permalink

    Worse part of that game? Hearing Jimmy Dykes talk about the great Breein Tyree from tipoff to signoff

  12. makeitstop
    1:07 pm February 16, 2020 Permalink

    I know they were daring us to shoot 3’s but did we hv to take the bait 22 times? That said, if we just got 25% of them we win by 14… and what are the odds we shout that poorly twice in a row? (He asks reluctantly) we had atrocious shooting 1/17 against Utah then followed w 7 made 3’s against OSU and UL; we went 1/9 against UGa and came back with 7 made 3’s (46%) against Texas Tech. Granted I am looking for a pony in here, but that’s the best I got. We have a big enough sample size to know we should shoot over 30% and it does even out. It better start Tuesday.