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5 more thoughts and postgame notes from UK beating EKU

The Cats continue to impress on the defensive end of the court

Keion Brooks Greg Goins - Sea of Blue

The Kentucky Wildcats were back in Lexington for their home opener as they took on the Eastern Kentucky Colonels.

The Cats didn’t have a hangover after taking down the #1 team on Tuesday. Once again, they put on a very good defensive performance.

It was a hot start for Kentucky ,as they jumped out the quick 12-0 lead at the first media timeout.

A very balanced scoring attack for the Cats helped them take a 21-5 lead with just under 10 minutes remaining.

Immanuel Quickley later drilled a triple to extend the Kentucky lead to 32-10.

However, EKU would find some life, as they went on a run thanks to their press defense, forcing coach Cal to take a timeout with 2:38 left holding a 37-23 lead.

Kentucky would respond well after the timeout, going on a 7-0 run themselves in less than a minute and took a 46-25 lead into halftime.

The 2nd half was more of the same, as EKU couldn’t compete with the size of the Cats.

Kentucky didn’t was anytime extending their lead as it had swelled to 60-28 by the under 16 timeout.

With just over 10 minutes remaining in the game, Keion Brooks slammed home an incredible put-back dunk to make it 71-41.

Kentucky would continue their 13-0 run as they extended the lead to 82-41 with less than 5 minutes to play, and the Cats would finish off the Colonels for a 91-49 win.

Thoughts on the game

Nick Richards dominated

After a solid performance Tuesday night, Richards backed it up recording a double-double in the home opener.

He finished with 21 points, 10 rebounds, 4 blocks and 1 assist while shooting 10/11 from the field.

Richards is very important for this team as he is the main rim protector and has an ability to really alter shots all over the floor.

If he can continue to play at a high level, then this team is going to be really hard to beat.

Ashton Hagans controlled the game

Hagans did exactly what a point guard is expected to do. He controlled the pace of the game, got his teammates involved, and made life hard for the opposing guards.

He finished with 11 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists and 3 steals while shooting 5/9 from the field.

EKU pressed the Cats all night, and Hagans did a pretty solid job of dealing with that press and then either finding an open teammate or scoring himself.

On the defensive side, EKU’s guards had a difficult time moving the ball, and Hagans continued to show he is one of the top defenders in all of college basketball.

Keion Brooks bounced back

Tuesday’s game was a rough outing for Brooks as he got into foul trouble early and didn’t record a point in his Kentucky debut.

He bounced back in this one as he recorded 11 points and 8 rebounds on 5/7 shooting including a thunderous put back slam in the 2nd half.

The only negative from his game was his free throw shooting. He was 1/6 from the line and that is something that will have to improve or else it will be hard to have him on the floor late in close games.

Nate Sestina also recorded a double-double

It was a bit under the radar with how well Richards played, but Sestina joined him in the double-double club tonight.

He finished with 12 points, 11 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals and 2 blocks. An all-around performance for Sestina.

He was key in the win on Tuesday night and he is going to be a huge factor in the overall success of this team with his shooting and rebounding ability.

We should all be very thankful that Cal found Nate Sestina.

A great team performance

We have taken the time to discuss the individual standouts, but the team as a whole played really well.

It was an all-around team effort on defense as they held EKU to 25% shooting and forced them into committing 21 turnovers.

However, on offense, the Cats had 6 players score in double digits with Tyrese Maxey right behind them with 9.

With this many scoring options, the Cats are going to be a hard team to guard, and they are only going to get better.

The Cats will be back in Rupp on Tuesday night when they take on Evansville.

Now, here are the postgame notes and milestones via UK Athletics:

Team Records and Series Notes

  • Kentucky is 2-0, Eastern Kentucky is 1-1.
  • UK has begun the season 2-0 nine times in 11 seasons under John Calipari.
  • UK leads the series 13-0.
  • Kentucky increased its NCAA-leading win total to 2,295 all-time.
  • UK is now 103-14 all-time in home openers. UK has won 11 consecutive home openers.
  • Next up: Kentucky continues its eight-game homestand Tuesday vs. Evansville. That game will tip at 7 p.m. on SEC Network.

Player Notes

  • Nick Richards notched the second double-double of his career with 21 points and 10 rebounds, adding four blocked shots on the defensive end.
  • It was his second 20-point game of his career, four points shy of his career high 25 vs. Fort Wayne on Nov. 22, 2017. That also happens to be his only other double-double.
  • UK is 3-0 in his career when he has double-figure scoring and 3-0 when he has double-figure rebounding.
  • Nate Sestina posted his first double-double as a Wildcat with 12 points and 11 rebounds.
  • It is the 12th double-double of his collegiate career with his previous 11 coming at Bucknell.
  • Immanuel Quickley recorded career highs with 16 points and five assists.
  • UK is 7-0 in his career when he scores in double figures and 3-0 when he has at least four assists.
  • Ashton Hagans’ all-around game featured 11 points, a career-high-tying seven rebounds, five assists and three steals.
  • Keion Brooks Jr. and Khalil Whitney each had his first double-figure scoring game as Wildcats with 11 points each.
  • Junior Riley Welch, sophomore Ben Jordan and freshman Brennan Canada forever have their names etched in Kentucky basketball lore as they made their first official appearances as Wildcats.

Calipari

  • Calipari improved to 307-71 at UK. 
  • He has a 752-211 all-time on-court record.
  • Calipari is 248-40 vs. Associated Press unranked competition under Calipari.
  • UK has won 52 in a row at home vs. unranked competition.
  • UK is 18-2 against in-state foes under Calipari.

Team Notes

  • Kentucky limited EKU to 27.3 percent from the field.
  • It’s UK”s best defensive field-goal percentage since limiting Stony Brook to 26.3 percent on March 17, 2016, in the first round of the 2016. NCAA Tournament.
  • The Wildcats improved to 189-16 under John Calipari when holding the opponent to 40% or less from the floor.
  • Kentucky is now 175-7 under Calipari when limiting the opposition to 63 points or less.
  • Kentucky is now 75-0 under Calipari when limiting the opposition to 55 points or less.
  • UK improved to 262-6 under Calipari when leading by at least 10 points.
  • Kentucky’s 91 points is the most since 92 vs. Virginia Military on Nov. 18, 2018.
  • UK’s 54.6 shooting percent was the best since 55.4% at Ole Miss on March 5.
  • Kentucky dominated around the basket, winning rebounding 54-25 and points in the paint 54-12.
  • Six Wildcats scored in double figures, the first time that has happened since Feb. 24, 2018, vs. Missouri.
  • The last time two Cats had double-doubles was March 31, 2019, in the NCAA Tournament vs. Auburn.

In the First Half

  • The starting lineup consisted of Ashton Hagans, Immanuel Quickley, Kahlil Whitney, Nate Sestina and Nick Richards.
  • Tyrese Maxey was the first sub.
  • Whitney got on the scoreboard first with a follow dunk at the 18:58 mark, the beginning of a 14-0 run to open the game.
  • EKU had turnovers on its first five possessions, and UK kept the visitors scoreless during their first 15 possessions.
  • EKU got on the board at the 12:57 mark, when Darius Hicks tallied a layup-and-one.
  • Leading 23-10, Kentucky’s 9-0 run stretched the lead to 32-10.
  • An EKU spurt closed the gap to 37-23, prompting a UK timeout with 2:38 remaining.
  • The Wildcats responded with a 9-0 run and went to intermission ahead 46-25. UK held EKU to 27.3% shooting and Quickley led the Cats with 10 points.

In the Second Half

  • Kentucky opened the second half with the original starting lineup.
  • UK had a 10-0 run early in the half to run the score to 60-28.
  • Ahead 69-41, a 13-0 spurt pushed the Cats up 82-41.
  • Kentucky’s largest lead was 44 points on two occasions.