When you look at the Kentucky Wildcats’ win against Texas Tech, it’s hard not to look at the special game from Nick Richards. Richards put up numbers that no other Kentucky player has since Anthony Davis, but he wasn’t the only big time performer for the Cats.
On a night where his backcourt partners struggled, Immanuel Quickley stepped up. Quickley scored 21 points on 7/17 shooting from the field, including 4/8 from three, to go along with six rebounds.
Fantastic transition break leads to the corner 3 by Immanuel Quickley. pic.twitter.com/oUBYiDlNNe— Not Scott Charlton (@Scott_Charlton2) January 26, 2020
He may have led the team with six turnovers (most of them being uncharacteristic travels and a questionable charge), but the entire team was turnover prone with 20 on the night.
Immanuel Quickley from half court to end the 1st half. pic.twitter.com/09Svnaxt0s— Not Scott Charlton (@Scott_Charlton2) January 25, 2020
The highlight of Quickley’s night had to be his huge make from halfcourt to give Kentucky a two-point lead at the half. The shot was incredibly difficult considering he came off a ball screen and faded away in order to get the shot off. It was the perfect momentum shift that Kentucky needed as it deflated the Red Raiders’ run and gave the Wildcats a boost going into the break.
In overtime, Quickley made two free throws with under a minute to go to give Kentucky a lead. They may not have been the winning points, but it was just another instance of Quickley making big free throws in the clutch. When Kentucky needs them, there’s no one anyone in blue and white would rather see at the line than Quickley.
Ever since Kentucky returned from Las Vegas, Immanuel has been a different player and a consistent contributor for John Calipari. He has scored 12+ points in every one of Kentucky’s last 8 games with shooting percentages of 49.4% from the field, 48.9% from deep, and 89.1% from the foul line while playing great defense.
Immanuel Quickley jumps the passing lane and takes it for the two hand jam. pic.twitter.com/C7Yw0HYirz— Not Scott Charlton (@Scott_Charlton2) January 25, 2020
Whenever the Wildcats need a basket on offense, Quickley always seems to make the right play at the right time. He was timid to shoot the ball during his freshman campaign, but that player is long gone and a more confident one has taken his place.
Tough baseline runner by Immanuel Quickley who lets 'em know his defender is too small. pic.twitter.com/aFvwqqQA6Z— Not Scott Charlton (@Scott_Charlton2) January 26, 2020
Kentucky desperately needed someone to become a respectable threat as a shooter and Immanuel has given them that. He’s more than respectable, though, as he’s now both lethal and elite at this point. Kentucky arguably has the best backcourt in the country with Ashton Hagans and Tyrese Maxey, but it almost becomes no competition when Immanuel’s name is included in the conversation. No other team can put three guards on the floor that are as dynamic as those three can be and it may be the edge Kentucky needs come the NCAA Tournament.
It was exactly the edge the Wildcats needed in Lubbock on Saturday night as well. Even with Hagans and Maxey struggling (4-16 from the field), Quickley locked in and gave Calipari the production he needed to get Kentucky a great win to add to the resume.
And the brighter Quickley continues to shine, the more his NBA stock will rise and the potential for him to leave after this season. But it will also boost Kentucky’s Final Four hopes, as these Cats continue to grow into a team capable of making a deep postseason run.
Quickley will look to continue his hot streak when Kentucky faces off against Vanderbilt in Rupp Arena on Wednesday.