The Kentucky Wildcats have been atrocious from deep to start the season, one reason for their NCAA-rattling loss to Evansville. In that outing, they were just 4/17 from deep.
Against another clearly subpar opponent, they weren’t letting history repeat itself. Against Mount St. Mary’s on Friday, the team shot 6/15 from downtown, and it was thanks in large part to Immanuel Quickley, whose status was unknown until hours before the game.
Immanuel Quickley catch and shoot 3 in transition. pic.twitter.com/e50qQdanm1— Scott Charlton (@Scott_Charlton) November 23, 2019
“Immanuel is an electric scorer, he can shoot the ball, he can finish, like I said he played great minutes off the bench and made a lot of three-pointers,” said Kahlil Whitney after the game.
Quickley, who missed the team’s last game, made three triples. His three makes on four attempts was one of the bright spots for this team. Aside from Quickley, EJ Montgomery, Tyrese Maxey and Kahlil Whitney all made one three as well.
It was really nice seeing Montgomery hit a triple, as he hit just 2/10 from deep as a freshman but is now 1/1 as a sophomore. He missed the last three games with an ankle injury.
EJ Montgomery knocks down his first 3 pointer of the season. pic.twitter.com/lscQt13apz— Scott Charlton (@Scott_Charlton) November 23, 2019
The majority of their six threes were a result of quality offensive movement and breaking down the defense, and John Calipari cited passing as a big reason for the improvement.
“The reason (passing), it’s contagious,” said Calipari. “If you don’t pass it when you get it, I’m not passing it. Look, five guys out there playing for themselves. Today you saw a team that passed the ball and created shots for each other.”
The Wildcats have been able to get a good amount of open looks in their first four games; they just haven’t dropped.
But things weren’t always pretty in this game, as the Cats shot just 1/5 from deep in the first half and led just 39-34 at the break. They caught first out of the break, hitting 5/10 from deep and outscoring the Mountaineers 43-28 in the second half.
Three-point shooting in general is a huge decider of games, especially at the collegiate level. The Wildcats have won the last few games not because they’ve shot well but because they’re not significantly more athletic and just better than their opponent.
Tyrese Maxey with the team's first 3 pointer of the night. pic.twitter.com/pQxrVAQFaY— Scott Charlton (@Scott_Charlton) November 23, 2019
That said, over their last three games coming into Friday, they shot 7/43 from downtown, and if that continues against solid SEC competition, the results may not be as forgiving for Big Blue Nation.
Finally getting all their personnel back, Kentucky was dominant against the now 1-5 Mountaineers. They defeated Mount St. Mary’s by 20 although entering the half up just five.
Moving their record to 4-1, the Wildcats next outing will take place on November 24 against Lamar. The next notable, top-25 opponent is Ohio State which will be played in Vegas in late December.