“They’re coming. They’re getting better,” said ESPN broadcaster Jay Bilas following the Kentucky Wildcats’ 76-67 win over the Alabama Crimson Tide.
Following the victory, Kentucky will remain undefeated in SEC play to start 2020. The Wildcats played sound defense early on to hold a double-digit lead, but stagnant offense and miscues on defense allowed Alabama to climb back into contention.
However, thanks to Ashton Hagans’ clutch play-making and Immanuel Quickley’s continued shot-making, Kentucky was able to pull it together down the stretch and avenge their loss to Alabama last season. While Hagans and Quickley led the way late in Saturday’s win, it should be noted that Nick Richards and Tyrese Maxey scored in double digits as well.
Kentucky will ride the coattails of their four-game winning streak into Wednesday’s outing at South Carolina. Tip-off is scheduled for 6:30 pm EST.
Kentucky’s built for inside scoring, but Calipari will welcome knocking down open threes.
Nick Richards putback slam pic.twitter.com/iKu1qhDMCe— Not Scott Charlton (@Scott_Charlton2) January 11, 2020
Like Tyler Herro, Richards is becoming a walking bucket.
Ashton Hagans two hand jam off the turnover. pic.twitter.com/QsA0pc72qS— Not Scott Charlton (@Scott_Charlton2) January 11, 2020
Defense -> easy baskets for the Wildcats.
Tyrese Maxey steps into a 3. pic.twitter.com/Fs7ZqSy5rg— Not Scott Charlton (@Scott_Charlton2) January 11, 2020
Kentucky was spraying all over the yard on Saturday.
Ashton Hagans carried Kentucky late in their win over Alabama, so of course he was the day’s MVP after sniffing a triple-double of 15 points, nine assists, eight rebounds and adding three steals. The sophomore guard made a clutch three, a few hard drives to the basket and played stellar defense in the closing minutes to will his team to a win.
However, Hagans wasn’t alone on Saturday afternoon and that should be duly noted. Immanuel Quickley has become the Doron Lamb of this year’s Kentucky team. Not only did he come into Saturday’s game shooting a quality 38% from behind the arc, but he shot the ball even better by leading all scorers with 19 points on 6-10 shooting (5-6 from three), grabbed five rebounds and dished out three assists.
The two “veteran” guards have certainly come into their own in terms of leading this Kentucky backcourt alongside the young, talented Tyrese Maxey and with the walking-giant Nick Richards roaming the paint.
On Saturday, it required a collective effort to seal the deal against a hard-nosed Alabama opponent. Big Blue Nation should feel more than comfortable going forward after their team executed together down the stretch.