A few weeks ago, it seemed like the Kentucky Wildcats were just going to have to accept and adapt to the fact that they weren’t making shots from three-point land.
Kentucky went a combined 9/40 from deep on their trip out to Las Vegas the week before Christmas. Unsurprisingly, both of those games resulted in a loss and created some legitimate cause for concern.
Before the season started, John Calipari labeled this roster as one of his best shooting teams since he arrived in Lexington over 10 years ago. But after dropping those games to Utah and Ohio State, it left many fans questioning that opinion.
To their credit, the players responded in a major way and led by Immanuel Quickley the Cats now have to be respected from behind the arc. For the season, UK has now worked their three-point percentage up to an acceptable 32% while they are holding opponents to under 30%.
Since that abysmal performance in Las Vegas, Kentucky has now made 36 threes in their last six games. In fairness, that isn’t exactly scorching the nets, but it does create a need for opposing defenses to guard the three point line and not pack the paint, and in the limited three they’re taking per game, they’ve hit hit 44.6% over their last four games.
The go-to guy for making outside shots without a doubt has become Immanuel Quickley. At one point, the sophomore guard made a ridiculous 12/13 attempts from behind the arc. His confidence his off the charts right now.
Despite an off shooting game against Arkansas, it’s reached the point where when the ball leaves Quickley’s hands, you believe that it is going in.
Immanuel Quickley with the three ball as UK defeats Missouri 71-59 at Rupp. @KentuckySports @heraldleader @markcstory @caitlyn_stroh @johnclayiv pic.twitter.com/yRQlICXuRz— Mark Mahan (@MarkMahan) January 4, 2020
He’s worked his season percentage over 40% and is now tied for the team’s leading scorer with Tyrese Maxey at 13.7 points per game.
Calipari recently gave his thoughts on why Immanuel Quickley is seeing this kind of success.
”The kid lives in the gym... He expects to make them.” Calipari said.
Having that kind of proven threat from deep makes this team a lot more dangerous and opens up options on the offensive end. The old basketball adage is to “work inside out” for long-range shots.
Kentucky can now take advantage of Nick Richard’s emergence in the paint while trusting that guys can knock down shots on the kick-out pass. It will be interesting to watch this team’s continued developed on the offensive end.
The Cats are showing impressive balance with Maxey, Quickley, Richards, and Hagans all averaging 13 points per game.