The Kentucky Wildcats are far from perfect, but all these young Cats keep doing is winning.
Their latest victory proved to be one of their most challenging of the season. Kevin Knox scored 21 points, Hamidou Diallo added 20, including a big 3-pointer with 50 seconds remaining, and the Wildcats outlasted Virginia Tech 93-86 on Saturday.
The Wildcats won their seventh straight on the strength of a season-high 11 3-pointers, with six players making at least one. UK finished 11-of-22 from behind the arc. Quade Green added 17 points with a pair of 3s while wearing shaded protective glasses after injuring his eye last week against Monmouth.
But while the offense gets the headlines, the Wildcats’ defense helped produce a lot of those points. Their pressing defense helped force 19 turnovers that led to 36 points, and they held the Hokies to 10 points below their nation-leading average of 96.2 per game.
Here are the updated season stats following win No. 9:
And here are the postgame notes and milestones, courtesy of UK Athletics:
Team Records and Series Notes
- Kentucky has won seven in a row and is now 9-1. Virginia Tech ended a seven-game win streak and is now 9-2.
- Kentucky leads the series 4-1, including 2-1 in Lexington.
- Next for Kentucky is UCLA as the Wildcats take on the Bruins in the CBS Sports Classic on Sat. Dec. 23 in New Orleans’ Smoothie King Arena. Game time is 4 p.m. ET and televised on CBS.
In the First Half
- Kentucky’s starting lineup featured Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Hamidou Diallo, PJ Washington, Kevin Knox and Nick Richards for the second time, also the season opener vs. Utah Valley.
- Virginia Tech scored the game’s first five points before the Wildcats came back with nine a row.
- Diallo connected on a 3-pointer with 16:09 remaining, giving Kentucky 1,023 consecutive games with a 3-pointer.
- Tied at 39, Virginia Tech went on an 8-0 run before UK got the final basket of the half. Tech went to halftime with a 47-41 lead.
- It is the most points UK has allowed this season in the first half and UK’s second-largest halftime deficit of the season (trailed by nine in the opener vs. Utah Valley).
- Kentucky’s seven 3-pointers is the most in a first half this season.
- UK shot 46 percent from the field in the first half, ending a streak of four straight games at least 50 percent.
In the Second Half
- Trailing 51-44, Kentucky went on a 10-0 run.
- Tied at 60, UK went on a 5-0 spurt and never trailed again.
- Ahead 75-71, Diallo net nestled a 3-pointer with 4:54 left to give UK its then-largest lead of the game at 78-71. (UK eventually led by eight points as its largest advantage.)
- Clinging to an 85-83 lead, Diallo swished another 3 with 48 seconds left to keep the visitors at bay.
- Kentucky made several clutch shots with the game in the balance. Despite the closeness of the game, Tech never had the ball with a chance to tie or go ahead in the final seven minutes of the game.
- UK scored 93 points for the second game in a row. The last time UK scored 93 at least back-to-back was Jan. 3 and 7, 2017, vs. Texas A&M (100) and Arkansas (97).
- Although the Wildcats allowed a season-most 86 points, it is still 10 points below Tech’s nation-best 96.2 points per game.
- UK won despite Virginia Tech shooting 58.2 percent from the field. It is the second-highest field-goal percentage allowed in the Calipari era.
- Despite the difficulty of winning when the opponent shoots at least 50 percent, UK is 10-9 in the Calipari era when the opponent makes at least half its field goals.
- UK committed only 11 turnovers, one off its season best.
- UK did a great job of converting turnovers into points. Virginia Tech had 19 turnovers and UK turned those into 36 points.
- UK made 11 of 22 from 3-point range. Eleven threes is a season high and it is the second game this season that the Wildcats have made at least half of their long-range tries.
- UK won the rebounding, 33-30, the ninth consecutive game that the Wildcats won or tied the boardwork.
- This is the second game in a row that two Wildcats scored at least 20 points.
- Coming off his only single-digit scoring performance of the year, Kevin Knox bounced back with a game-high 21 points. It is his fourth 20-point game of the season.
- Hamidou Diallo bucketed 20 points. It is second-consecutive 20 game and fourth in a row with at least 19. He is averaging 20.3 over the last four games.
- PJ Washington collected 11 points, a career-high five assists and had a crucial blocked shot in the last minute of the game.
- Quade Green had 17 points and tied his career high for assists with five.
- Nick Richards had eight points, six rebounds and three blocked shots.
- Richards made 3-of-5 field goal attempts today has made at least 60 percent of his shots in seven straight games
- Wenyen Gabriel had seven points and led the Wildcats in rebounds with nine.
Coach John Calipari
- Calipari has a 703-194 all-time on-court record.
- Calipari is now 258-54 at Kentucky.
- Calipari is 142-6 at Rupp Arena.
- Calipari is 3-0 vs. Virginia Tech in his career.