Kentucky’s race to clinch the Southeastern Conference regular-season crown is getting close to the finish line, as the Wildcats traveled to Texas A&M and took care of the Aggies by a score of 69-60.
The eighth-ranked Cats held off the Aggies thanks to heroic shot-making by Immanuel Quickley late in the second half. Kentucky certainly looks to be playing the best basketball of any SEC team at the moment, but closing out games continues to at least be an uncomfortable task for the Wildcats.
It’ll be interesting to see how they can improve in that area over the course of the next two weeks. With just 11 days left in the SEC regular-season, the crown is firmly Kentucky’s hand, and they can clinch it with a win this weekend over Auburn. Their remaining slate of games also include hosting Tennessee next Tuesday and their regular-season finale at Florida next Saturday.
Being a victim of recency bias is normally ill-advisable. However, Immanuel Quickley’s play over the last couple of months has also lifted Kentucky to the current top-seed in the Southeastern Conference.
Sure, Nick Richards has been a wonderful surprise making a substantial leap from his junior to senior year. And while that’s been joyous to watch, Quickley’s value to Kentucky has simply been unmatched during conference play. Quickley’s fifth-best (nationally) 91.5% free throw percentage allows the Wildcats to run the ball through him on any given play.
More than likely, Quickley is either making a basket or netting free throws at the stripe. Kentucky went right to Quickley once again on Tuesday night at Texas A&M, as the sophomore guard poured in 30 points while making 8/12 attempts from behind the arc and recording a team-high +12 for the game. His ability to not just make plays off the dribble but consistently convert momentum-changing shots has truly changed the season for Kentucky.
So, of course, Quickley is your MVP for not just Tuesday night’s game but for the entire season.