The Kentucky Wildcats went down to Knoxville to try and end a four-game losing streak in Thompson-Boling Arena, and came out victories with a 77-64 victory.
It was not a pretty game by any stretch for either team, but the Wildcats got contributions from some unexpected places to get their first win in Knoxville since 2015.
Immanuel Quickley led the way for Kentucky with 18 points, continuing to excel at the free throw line. Nick Richards did his best Nick Richards impression with a 15 point, 7 rebound effort. And Tyrese Maxey stepped up his scoring by putting 15 points on the board.
But the big surprise was Johnny Juzang, who scored 13 points and hit every shot he took in his biggest performance of the season.
The Wildcats really needed this win, both for their resume and their psyche. Being able to win in tough road environments, Auburn aside, has been a strength for this team. That should give them an edge in tournament play when home court advantage is out of the equation.
This is a tough one because of the balanced attack on the offensive end for Kentucky. The Wildcats finished with four players in double figures, Nick Richards once again flirted with a double-double, and Immanuel Quickley was efficient as always. For today, however, the MVP honors are going to freshman reserve Johnny Juzang.
Juzang really struggled early in the year, but has slowly build himself into a contributor on both ends of the court. In his first game in Knoxville, he took his play to even another level. He was perfect from the floor for the game, including 4/4 from behind the three-point line and 2/2 from the charity stripe.
Juzang has seen his role increase in the absence of Kahlil Whitney, even though some speculate that Juzang’s play contributed to Whitney’s decision to leave. With EJ Montgomery not having his best game and very little depth on the bench, Juzang’s play was huge in contributing to this win on the road.
If Johnny continues to be a consistently adequate defender and occasionally can have a game where he goes off like this, he will be a great asset to this team in March.