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Wildcats recap win over Alabama, plus postgame notes

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Quickley was the star of the show as the Cats fended off Alabama.

Jeremy Chisenhall - Sea of Blue

The Kentucky Wildcats are now 3-0 in SEC play following a 76-67 win Saturday over the Alabama Crimson Tide.

The star of the show was sophomore guard Immanuel Quickley, who didn’t even check into the game until six minutes had passed, then never checked out as he racked up 19 points on 6/10 shooting, including 5/6 from deep to go with five boards and three assists.

Junior center Nick Richards finished with a double-double of 13 points and 11 boards to go with five blocks. Sophomore guard Ashton Hagans flirted with a triple-double of 15 points, nine assists and nine rebounds.

After the game, several players met with the media to recap the game. Here is a recap of what they had to say via UK Athletics and our own Greg Goins:

#23, EJ Montgomery, So., F

On being a “monster” …

“I just want to go out there and compete. We fight every possession and want to get rebounds. I just do the little things that I can be doing.”

On his improvement …

“I think that I am breaking through my shell. Me and (John Calipari) had a talk and he just wants me to go out there and have fun, and that is what I tried to do out there.”

On the team getting things going …

“Yes. That is what we have been working on in practice, just trying to get everyone going. Just going out there and having fun and competing.”

On how hot Immanuel Quickley is …

“Super hot. He has been knocking down a lot of shots and he has been having a lot of fun.”

On how Immanuel Quickley being hot helps his game …

“Spacing out the floor. They have to go out there and guard Immanuel and that is just going to leave us open as bigs.”

#0, Ashton Hagans, So., G

On hitting a big shot late in the game …

“You know, it was really big. After the first timeout, we drew up something similar to that. Coach Tony (Barbee) wanted to call another timeout. We wanted to keep it hot, getting to the threes to get us up in the lead.”

On making the right plays …

“We are becoming better leaders and playing the role that we need because this team could and can get better.”

On experience from last year compared to this year …

“It helps you out a lot. It just helps you out by being with the same guys as last year. We’re a lot closer, the four guys that came back, and Nick (Richards) added on to the team. We just try to get better at talking on the court and off the court with each other so we can be better.

On being part of the UK team that earned the 1,000th SEC win in program history …

“We have to keep on going, it’s a big win against a good team. One thousand? Yeah, let’s just keep it going.”

On John Calipari making him do a shootaround before the game …

“I needed the practice, it was just too early. That’s all it was. I’m not really the morning type, so he was on me all week. He wanted me there with some other guys around me while I was there, just talking and getting comfortable.”

#5, Immanuel Quickley, So., G

On his shooting grove …

“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. 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.”

On not letting this game slip away after Alabama’s 15-point comeback …

“It’s really good for us. It just shows that our team can lock in and focus. Like you said, we gave up that 15-point lead, but when it was time to step on the gas, we were on it. Credit to Alabama, they’re a great team but we knew we needed to lock in and get stops if we wanted to bring this one home.”

On sophomore experience …

“I’ve said that multiple times, I’m so glad I came back. Even at the start of the season coming back into my sophomore year, not even basketball-wise, but it’s great because now I really know where all my classes are, I know time management, I know when I need to be places and just simple things like that. I’ve just gotten more comfortable on and off the floor, which is beneficial to me and my teammates. I’m able to look out for everybody.”

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

Team Records and Series Notes

  • Kentucky is now 12-3, winning four in a row, and is 3-0 in the Southeastern Conference.
  • This was Kentucky’s 1,000th regular-season SEC victory.
  • UK is 3-0 in league play for the fifth time in 11 seasons under Coach John Calipari.
  • It is UK’s ninth straight home.
  • Alabama is 8-7 overall, 1-2 in the SEC.
  • UK leads the series 114-38 and has won two in a row against the Crimson Tide.
  • UK leads 58-10 in games played in Lexington.
  • The Wildcats have won eight in a row at home vs. Alabama.
  • UK has won 12 of the last 13 games vs. the Crimson Tide.
  • Next up: Kentucky plays at South Carolina on Wednesday at 6:30 p.m., part of a two-game road swing. The game will be televised on the SEC Network.

Player Notes

  • Nick Richards collected his seventh double-double of the season and the eighth of his career with 13 points and 11 rebounds.
  • UK is 11-0 this season when he scores in double figures, 7-0 when he rebounds in double digits.
  • Richard also blocked five shots, moving the Wildcats are 5-0 on the campaign when he blocks at least four shots.
  • Richards had one double-double in his first 74 career games and now has seven in 15 games this season.
  • Immanuel Quickley came off the bench for 19 points, including 5 of 6 on 3-pointers, and had five rebounds and three assists.
  • With the game hanging in the balance at 71-67, he hit a 3-pointer and two foul shots in the final minute.
  • He is averaging a team-best 18.8 points during UK’s current four-game win streak.
  • He has made 14 of 23 on 3-point shots (60.9%) over those four games.
  • He made eight 3-pointers in a row – last two vs. Missouri, all three at Georgia and the first three today – before missing in the second half. Overall, he’s made 10 of his last 11.
  • Ashton Hagans neared a triple-double with 15 points, a career-high nine rebounds and nine assists, adding three steals for good measure.
  • He now has 12 straight games with at least five assists, the best run since Tyler Ulis dished out five or more in 24 straight games from Dec. 26, 2015, to March 17, 2016.
  • His 7.3 assist average is a school-record pace (7.0 by Ulis, 2015-16).
  • Tyrese Maxey had 13 points, the fifth time in the last six games he has scored in double figures.
  • EJ Montgomery contributed 24 productive minutes with eight points (4 of 6 shooting) and six rebounds.
  • The Wildcats were plus-19 with him on the floor, a team best.

Coach John Calipari

  • Calipari is now 317-74 at UK.
  • He has a 762-214 all-time on-court record.
  • UK is 256-42 vs. unranked competition under Calipari.
  • He is 17-4 all-time vs. Alabama.
  • UK is 177-10 at home under Calipari.
  • The Wildcats are 139-38 vs. SEC competition in regular-season play under Calipari. He’s 347-104 all-time in regular-season conference games.

Team Notes

  • Kentucky had a good defensive game against a high-scoring Alabama team.
  • 67 points tied Alabama’s season low.
  • Alabama shot 36.8% from the field. UK is 195-17 (.920) in the Calipari era, 8-1 this season, when keeping the opponent to less than 40%.
  • Averaging 12 made 3-pointers coming into this game, Alabama made just 4 of 21 today, with 19% being a season low.
  • Conversely, Kentucky made 9 of 15 long balls today. Nine 3-pointers is second most this season and the 60% is a season best.
  • UK has made 15 of 27 on 3-pointers (55.6%) over the last two games.
  • The Wildcats are averaging 6.6 3-pointers over the last five games.
  • UK shot 44.4% from the field and Alabama hit 36.8%, moving Kentucky to 11-0 this season when outshooting the opponent.
  • Kentucky led by as many as 15 points. The Wildcats improved to 272-6 under Calipari when leading by at least 10 points at any time in the contest.

In the First Half

  • The starting lineup consisted of Ashton Hagans, Tyrese Maxey, Keion Brooks Jr., EJ Montgomery and Nick Richards for the fourth game in a row, UK’s most-used lineup of the season.
  • Nate Sestina was the first sub at the 15:29 mark.
  • Kentucky scored the game’s first four points, but a 6-0 Alabama run gave the Tide their first lead at 10-8.
  • UK responded with an 8-0 spurt to go up 16-10 and the Wildcats led the remainder of the half.
  • Alabama was within 30-28 when the Wildcats warmed to the task, scoring 17 points in the final 5:31 and taking a 45-35 advantage into intermission.
  • UK made 5 of 7 on 3-point shots in the opening period. Richards’ 11 points, six rebounds and four blocked shots led the way.
  • UK is 11-0 this season when leading at halftime.

In the Second Half

  • Kentucky began the second half with Hagans, Maxey, Immanuel Quickley, Montgomery and Richards.
  • The Wildcats picked up where they left off with an early 7-2 run, constructing their largest lead at 52-37.
  • The visitors refused to go away, however, as a 9-1 run got the lead back down to single digits at 53-46.
  • Alabama eventually narrowed the gap to three at 63-60, and 73-70 with 2:20 left, but got no closer as Kentucky scored the final six points of the game.
  • An offensive rebound and foul shot by Richards made it 71-67.
  • In the final minute, Quickley made a 3-pointer and two foul shots, providing the final cushion of 76-67.