Wenyen Gabriel’s record-setting performance from behind the arc was no fluke; the sophomore has been putting in extra time in the gym before and after practice, tirelessly working towards being the shooter this Kentucky team needs.
“It’s been a buildup. I’ve been getting up shots in the gym. Just seeing the ball go through and knowing this is the end of the season right now going into March, it’s a different level of focus.”
Wenyen’s perfect 7-7 mark from the outside is an SEC Tournament record and his seven threes were just one shy of the SEC Tournament record for made threes set by Stefan Moody back in 2016.
“If I knew that, I might have shot one more,” Wenyen quipped. “I was just trying to break my own record of making three in a row.”
Wenyen Gabriel set a new SEC tourney record by hitting 7 threes (7-7) in Kentucky’s win pic.twitter.com/iqFELp8PIp
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) March 10, 2018
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Quade Green said the locker room went wild when Wenyen walked in after doing interviews.
“We were screaming, jumping on him, slapping him in the head, just rewarding him for a great game,” Shai said.
“We’re very excited because he’s been working hard on his jump shot,” Quade said. “He’s going downhill with his jump shot. We were just real happy when he came into the locker room.”
Shai said knowing all the hard work Wenyen’s been putting in lately made today’s historic performance especially sweet.
“It was really special to watch. I’m so happy for him. He works really hard before and after practice. Seeing something like that for your teammate is really special. I expected for Wenyen it would come sooner or later and it came today at a perfect time. I’m really happy for him.”
So was the crowd, which erupted in a “Go Big Blue” chant after Wenyen’s seventh three. Wenyen returned the gesture, throwing his arms up and calling for the crowd to get even louder.
“That moment was great. It just shows how much appreciation they’ve got for us, all the support. You could feel the energy in the crowd, almost like it was a home game out there. I was trying to get them riled up to help us push through that game.”
How does it feel to go 7-7 from the three-point line in a tournament game? Like being a kid again.
“It feels like you’re at the park back at home just playing basketball. You feel free and you’re letting it fly like nobody’s with you.”
Wenyen already carved out his role on the team by doing all the little things; today, he stepped into a starring role with a performance that will go down in the Kentucky history books. He said he hasn’t had time to check his phone yet, but the first thing he’ll do is text his mother and brothers back home in Manchester.
“I don’t know if I could get much hotter,” Wenyen said of his day. “I couldn’t miss.”