The Kentucky Wildcats scored their 10th win of the season in epic fashion, a 103-100 thriller that saw Malik Monk have a game for the ages.
After the game, the freshman shooting guard talked about those final sequences, how it felt playing in such an amazing atmosphere, and being in the kind of zone few will ever experience.
Here is a recap of what Monk had to say following the game, courtesy of UK Athletics.
Q. Can you tell us what it feels like when everything’s falling like that?
“Like a pick-up game, that’s what it felt like to me. My teammates set me up well to get every shot I wanted. I was just able to knock it down. It’s just fun, fun to play like that.”
Q. Malik, on that last shot, the winning shot, you hesitated for a moment. What was going on there?
“Coach Cal told me to drop, but I was hot, so I didn’t.”
Q. When you took those last couple of threes, were you at all nervous? Or like you said, is it just a pick-up game and you’re in the flow?
“Definitely I was in the flow, so I wasn’t nervous at all. I knew I was going to get my shot off how I wanted to, and I was able to knock it down. Fox sent me a great pass, and they gave me two great screens.”
Q. How early do you know it’s going like that? How early can you tell you’re ready to go?
“I usually take the first shot of the game, and if I make it, I know I’m going to have a good game. But, it was — what were we, 10? We got a play called, we ran it. But Wyn sent me a great screen, I got open, and I was able to knock down a shot. I just knew we were going to have a great game.”
Q. At what point does the gravity of this moment set in that this wild atmosphere is kind of like a tournament game?
“As soon as we walked to the court. It was crazy. It was a packed house, everybody was going crazy. But we executed well and we were able to come out with the win.”
Q. How fun is it to play against guys like Justin Jackson and Joel Berry?
“Yeah, they’re older players, they’re great players, too. They’re older. I think both juniors. I used to look up to them. In AAU, I used to see him play and he played with Justin. Just playing with them, I knew they were greats before I got out there. Just fun competing against them.”
While UK’s win came in large part because of Monk, freshman point guard De’Aaron Fox also played a huge role in the win. Fox finished the game with 24 points, 10 assists, four rebounds, and two steals.
Here is a recap of what Fox had to say about the game and Monk’s performance.
Q. On the gravity of the moment in that wild atmosphere:
“This is the first game we probably saw more of the other team’s colors than ours. There was a lot of baby blue in the stands, but we came out, we played with energy. I don’t think we really lost the lead too much. I don’t think we ever lost the lead in the second half. Everyone says we’re young, but we came out and beat a top 5 team in the country.”
How hot did Malik seem to you?
“It was like 11 minutes left in the first half, and I looked up and I was like we have 19. After he hit that shot, I was like, man, Malik’s crazy. He had, I think, 47. When someone’s hot like that, you just keep giving them the ball.
“So I’m looking at Cal. He wanted to take him out, he had six in a row already, and he scored again when I was sitting down at the scorer’s table, and I was like you all still want me to take him out? And they changed it, but he had a heck of a game.”
Q. How fun is it to play against guys like Jackson and Berry?
“Oh, man, those are games you live for. We want to play close games, honestly, for me, close games are a lot more fun than blowouts. Just playing a team like that and guys like that, Joel was one of the best players in his class, and I played with Justin in AAU.
“So just playing against those guys, it’s fun, you know them. On the court it’s competition, and I feel like that’s why we play the game, just competition like that.”