The Kentucky Wildcats beat Florida 71-70 on Saturday, despite Ashton Hagans being out, Tyrese Matey going 1/11 from the field, and Immanuel Quickley fouling out with nine minutes.
How could Kentucky win such a game you ask?
Thankfully, Kentucky got a major boot from Keion Brooks Jr., Nate Sestina, and Johnny Juzang taking charge and leading the Wildcats to victory.
Although junior Nick Richards led the way with 19 points, the trio listed above combined to shoot 11/16 for 29 points. Even more impressive, the trio shot 5/8 from downtown. They also scored 12 points in the final nine minutes after Quickley had fouled out.
What’s most impressive is that the team did all this without Ashton Hagans. The team’s floor general, Hagans didn’t make the trip to take on Florida in the team’s last game of the season.
That said, Sestina, Brooks Jr., and Juzang, all of which didn’t have a solidified role early in the season, showed up huge for a Wildcats team that has significantly struggled with depth this season.
In the second half, there was a stretch where the three accounted for eight of the team’s 11 points in those drives. Those were game-altering moves, and the team was lucky they brought their A game.
Individually, Sestina scored nine points with six rebounds, shooting 1/2 from deep. Juzang scored 10 points on 4/6 shooting. Lastly, Brooks Jr., who has had a very inconsistent role on the team, started and shot 4/5 (2/2 from deep) for 10 points.
Last but certainly not least, EJ Montgomery scored the game-winning tip-in with 12 seconds left. He scored just four points on 2/4 shooting, but that tip-in was easily one of the biggest shots of the season for UK.
If the Wildcats are going to make a deep run in the NCAA Tournament, they’re going to need those guys to step up. Maxey can be inconsistent, Hagans’ offense is a work in progress, and even Richards has his moments.
They’ll need these three to go the distance, and they might just get it.