Kentucky defeated Missouri 71-59 in the first SEC matchup of the season for the Cats to improve to 10-3 on the season and now 1-0 in SEC play.
The game did not start out the greatest for the Cats, as Missouri got out to 17-9 lead in the first half, but then Kentucky went on a 14-0 run to go up 23-19 and stay in control the rest of the game.
Junior forward Nick Richards was a big part of keeping Kentucky within striking distance early, scoring the team’s first nine points, and overall put up great numbers and effort once again, tying a season-high with 21 total points (17 in the first half) on 9-13 shooting, along with adding 12 rebounds and four blocks.
“I felt pretty confident out there,” Richards said.
Grad-transfer forward Nate Sestina was very complimentary after the game of Richards and the effort he is giving each possession.
“Nick (Richards) is playing really well,” Sestina said. “He did a lot of stuff people don’t pay a lot of attention to, when he ran the floor, he opened it up for our guards to drive off of him and his offense was going.”
The rising-star forward also gives a lot of credits to his teammates for helping keep him confident.
“My teammates put me in the right spot to be successful on the court,” Richards said. “All praise goes to them, they are the ones that are trying to help me play confident.”
Richards had zero fouls at halftime, but still ended up fouling out by the end of the game as he was charged with five fouls in the second half, one being a technical.
UK Coach John Calipari was not pleased with the fouling in the second half, but also noted Richards was growing into the role of having opposing players try to get him in foul trouble.
“He doesn’t have the composure because he’s never been this guy,” Calipari said. “Now he’s this guy, you have a different responsibility.”
Sophomore guard Immanuel Quickley was also effective today, scoring a team-high and personal career-high 23 points, as he had all four of the made three-pointers for the team on eight attempts. This game is the second game in a row Quickley has set a career-high in scoring (18 points against Louisville).
Quickley gave a lot of credit for his performance to being able to work more in the gym lately.
“Since we haven’t had school, I’ve been able to get in the gym a lot more,” the sophomore guard said. “(I’m) really just working with my coaches, staying in the gym late and staying hungry.”
Quickley has made 24 straight free throws, the longest streak since Tyler Herro made 38 in a row last season, and is shooting 94.9%, which would be a school record if he finishes the season with that percentage, as the current school record is 93.5% set by Tyler Herro last season (minimum 50 attempts).
Sophomore guard Ashton Hagans did not shoot well from the field, going 0-3 for the game, but went 7-8 from the free-throw line, which were all of his points, while also finishing with seven assists (averaging 7.3 which is on pace for a school record) and five rebounds.
Hagans went down with an injury in the closing minutes of the game that looked almost like an achilles injury, but was later diagnosed after the game with just a low ankle sprain.
Kentucky will look to add another SEC victory as they next take on the Georgia Bulldogs in Athens on Tuesday at 9 pm.