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Immanuel Quickley is becoming the bucket UK desperately needs

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Quickley is doing what Tyler Herro did and turning into a bucket that makes this UK team a legitimate Final Four threat.

Jeremy Chisenhall - Sea of Blue

The Kentucky Wildcats faced off with the Alabama Crimson Tide Saturday afternoon and was able to come away with a 76-67 victory for their 1000th SEC regular season win in program history.

The star of the day was none other than Immanuel Quickley who finished with 19 points on 6/10 shooting, and he was 5/6 from deep. He also had five rebounds, three assists and a steal.

With the game not in hand, John Calipari calls a timeout to draw up an out of bounds play for Quickley to get an open three with one-minute remaining. He drilled it, extending the lead to seven and basically ending it.

After the game, head coach John Calipari cited Quickley’s work ethic as the biggest reason for his emergence midway through his sophomore season, the same kind of drive for greatness that Tyler Herro and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander have had over the last two years in Lexington.

“He spends so much time in the gym, he expects to make them,” said Calipari. “If you know you’re not 100%, you’re not spending the time you can, you still look in the mirror. And if you’re giving 80% and then you get in the game and it doesn’t play out for you, you know, he’s — the kid lives in the gym. He’s kind of like Tyler (Herro), he’s like Shai Alexander, those guys. He’s just like them.”

The emergence of Quickley has been over the last four games as he has become almost an automatic bucket for this Kentucky team.

Since his struggles during the Las Vegas trip, Quickley has turned it on and has become one of, if not the team’s most reliable scorer.

Over his last four games, Quickley is averaging 18.7 points on 50% shooting from the field and is shooting 60% from three, which has made Kentucky the best three-point shooting team in the SEC thus far.

“Super hot. He has been knocking down a lot of shots and he has been having a lot of fun,” said EJ Montgomery of Quickley.

But that’s not all. Quickley is also crashing the glass with 3.8 rebounds per game over his last six outings, which is a big plus for a Kentucky team that’s still trying to solve its lack of consistent frontcourt depth.

One thing that this team has done well this season is shoot free throws. However, no one on the team has shot them better than Quickley.

In fact, Quickley is on pace to beat the free throw percentage record (min. 50 attempts) that was set by Tyler Herro last season who shot 93.55% on the season.

As of right now, Quickley is shooting 94% from the line.

“It feels a lot like high school. Honestly, it feels a lot like pick-up, feels like I’m back in my gym at home and I’m just shooting every shot and the rim’s like a wide-open ocean right now,” said Quickley. “That’s all credit to my teammates and coaches. I’m not really sure what’s going on right now, I think we’re just getting more comfortable.

“You learn your teammates’ tendencies and get better chemistry, things like that. I just love playing at home honestly, the rims at Rupp (Arena) are great, the crowd’s been great. I like playing on the road, too but it’s always good to be home.”

It is nice to have a guard like Quickley who can ice a game for you at the line, but this team has three of those with Quickley, Ashton Hagans and Tyrese Maxey all being excellent free throw shooters.

The arrival of Quickley has been fun to watch, and with March coming down to guard play more often than not, Kentucky is in a good spot as they have three of the best guards in the country.

This team is getting better each time they take the floor, and it is going to be a fun journey watching them continue to grow as the season continues, and Quickley will have a big say in how far they go in March.

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