The Kentucky Wildcats certainly did not look their best on Tuesday, falling to Tennessee 81-73 at home on senior night. The Wildcats blew a 17 (!) point lead in the second half, with everyone contributing something to the meltdown.
Tyrese Maxey led the Cats with 21 points, but only seven of those came in the second half. Immanuel Quickley had 15 points, but had a horrible shooting night and looked out of sync for most of the game. Nick Richards nearly got his double-double with 12 points and 9 rebounds, but was unable to dominate as many expected him to.
This is a bad loss for the Wildcats, no matter how you look at it. Thankfully, every other team in the country seems to be dropping games like this. And some members of Big Blue Nation may be relieved that a loss came before going into tournament play. But to lose in this fashion after looking so dominant early is something that can stick with you for a long time.
In a game where Immanuel Quickley has four turnovers and missed more than twice as many shots than he made, someone had to pick up the slack on the scoreboard. Several guys chipped in a little, but the guy who loves the bright lights, Tyrese Maxey, is taking home tonight’s MVP.
Maxey scored 21 for the game, hitting two three-point attempts and making several tough shots in traffic. There are very few players, if any, in the SEC that can stay in front of Maxey. And for the most part on Tuesday, he made them pay on the blow-by.
I know Kentucky fans do not like to lose, but it is positive to see that Maxey is both capable and willing to step up when Richards and Quickley are not filling it up. Maxey came into the year with high scoring expectations, and while he has not always met those he certainly has shown that he can take over a game in certain situations. This is the Maxey the Wildcats need moving forward.