The typical cast of characters had to step up for UK to prevail Saturday, as Nick Richards and Immanuel Quickley led the Wildcats offensively.
Similar to UK’s win over the Vanderbilt Commodores, UK had to put together a great second half in order to pull the win off, nearly doubling their scoring total from the first half to the second.
Here are five things to know about UK’s tough win.
This time, Kentucky needed Immanuel
It’s been noted that UK needs Richards to show up if the Wildcats are going to win close games, and that was still the case Saturday (Richards managed to contribute 16 points and seven rebounds), but Quickley was just as important — if not more important.
Quickley has found his role as a potent scoring threat and capable defender, and he carried UK down the stretch, scoring 12 of UK’s 18 points from the 13:36 mark to the 4:45 mark.
He finished the game with a team-high 17 points, and also pitched in three rebounds and two assists.
Containing Breein Tyree
Opponents cannot stop Tyree — he’s averaging 33.7 points over the last three games and scored 40 against the Mississippi State Bulldogs on Tuesday.
The best one can hope to do is contain him, and UK did just that. He got hot late in the first half and had 10 at the break. But UK managed to keep him from going off in the second half, as he finished the game with 19 points and went 6-of-16 from the field (although he was 3-of-6 from deep).
UK also put the pressure on Tyree by sending him to the line for two one-and-one opportunities late in the game. He missed the front end of both those opportunities.
Turnovers cause turbulence early
It was a tale of two halves when it came to ball security.
UK could not hold onto the ball in the first half. The Wildcats had nine turnovers in the first half, and a number of them came in the backcourt, as Ole Miss swiped away rebounds and converted easy points with the majority of UK’s players in the front court.
That turnover trouble gave Ole Miss a leg up, and it’s what made it so difficult for UK to pull the win out.
The breakneck turnover pace came to a halt in the second half, as the Wildcats finished the game with 11 giveaways and wound up winning the turnover battle.
Woes from deep
UK hasn’t been the strongest 3-point shooting team this year, but the Wildcats really struggled from beyond the arc today. They were just 1-of-13 from deep in the first half, with the only 3-point make coming from Johnny Juzang, who was 1-of-4 from deep in the half.
Kentucky averages 12 3-pointers per game, so the Wildcats were already over their per game average at halftime — not a good sign for a team that shoots 33% from deep.
The poor shooting from deep dragged UK’s shooting percentage from the floor down to 31%, which gave the team just 25 points at the half — a season low.
UK got away from the 3-point shot a little bit in the second half. The Wildcats pulled their attention inside, scoring their first 12 points of the second half in the paint. Still, they pulled the trigger too much, as they finished the game 2-of-22 from deep.
Tyrese Maxey does a little bit of everything
Maxey made some marks all over the stat sheet Saturday. He was tied for the team lead in rebounds at halftime with five, he was one of three Wildcats to reach double figures scoring, and he chipped in a few assists as well.
He finished the game with 14 points, five boards and three assists.
Maxey has been on a run of successful rebounding and scoring performances as of late. He had 25 points and four rebounds against the Vanderbilt Commodores Tuesday. He also had 15 and five against the Tennessee Volunteers on Feb. 2.
Now, let’s discuss the wild win!