Major Takeaways from Mississippi St. Before Kentucky Basketball Heads to Knoxville
(Photo credits:Keith Taylor)
Kentucky has many positives to look at after an 80-72 win Tuesday against Mississippi St. This coming shortly After a disheartening loss on Saturday versus Auburn. Even with the negatives, there are more positive takeaways before the Cats head to Knoxville this Saturday. Let's go over the pros and celebrate the birth of a star.
WHO IS THAT MAN AND WHAT DID HE DO WITH EJ MONTGOMERY?
⁃ The first takeaway from the game for me was watching EJ Montgomery finally come alive. Coach John Calipari said earlier in the week that we would see EJ used in a different way and boy did we! EJ finished with 12 pts, 8 rebs, 3 steals, and 32 minutes. Beyond the stats, we saw EJ initiate a powerful offense. He acted as a leader by drawing smart fouls, rebounding, hustling for loose balls, setting effective screens, and scoping out Reggie Perry for most of the game. Perry who is a shoo-in for 1st team all-SEC was held to 4-16 from the field with 4 turnovers. All in all, this was EJ’s party.
⁃ Nick Richards is a man among children and has asserted himself as the possible SEC Player of the Year. Even though Nick had a terrible game Saturday and left us questioning, Nick answered them all tonight. Nick provided a season-high 27 points and added 11 rebounds against a team with a great frontcourt—which is something we hadn’t seen a ton of. I believe this is the Nick Richards we need to see in every game.
⁃ Quickley is a constant offensive threat, scoring double digits for the 10th straight game. Quickley has become our go-to guy when we need some offense to start moving and I love it.
⁃ One negative that I saw tonight and it has become our negative in most games, we can not step on the gas pedal when we get a lead. Kentucky has not been able to transition that 8-12 lead to 16-20 or even maintain that lead. Against Miss St. we were lazy when we got up by 12. Almost instantly we let them cut it down to a 6 point lead and kept it there for a while. Even though we won, this has to change come tournament time.
This was a great bounce-back win for the Cats as predicted. The most important thing about tonight was that our team figured out the fundamentals we needed to figure out! Hopefully, the Cats go take the momentum from Nick Richards’ and EJ Montgomery’s big games into Knoxville on Saturday as they face the Tennessee Vols in a big rivalry game.
(Photot credits: Keith Taylor