LEXINGTON, Ky. – One historic performance in what became one of the most impressive comebacks in program history helped Kentucky freshman forward Kevin Knox earn the Citizen Naismith National Player of the Week award, as announced by the organization Tuesday.
Knox’s performance in UK’s come-from-behind win at No. 7/7 West Virginia was coupled by a magnificent game in league play en route to also earning Southeastern Conference Freshman of the Week honors. The Tampa, Florida, native averaged a team-high 26.5 points and 6.5 rebounds, which ranked second on the team, in the two victories.
Knox was UK’s go-to player offensively as he put up 34 points in the win in Morgantown, West Virginia. He showed varying ways of scoring with an effective inside-out game while also connecting on a career-high five 3-pointers. Knox didn’t just do it offensively; he also hauled in seven rebounds as UK won the battle of the boards by a plus-15 margin to aid its comeback effort. Kentucky earned a seven-point win after trailing by as many as 17 in the second half. UK’s 15-point halftime deficit was the third-largest halftime deficit overcome in program history.
Knox scored 19 points in the win over Mississippi State on Tuesday. Combined in the two games he connected on his field goals at a 69.6-percent rate and 75.0 percent from behind the arc. He also chipped in with an 85.7-percent rate from the free-throw line.
The 34 points against West Virginia marked the first time a UK player scored 30 or more points this season and the first since De’Aaron Fox had 39 in a win over UCLA in the Sweet 16 in the 2017 NCAA Tournament. The 34 points tied Malik Monk’s freshman school scoring record on the road (Monk scored 34 at Ole Miss to open SEC play a season ago). They’re also the most by a UK freshman in a non-conference true road game.
Knox has emerged as Kentucky’s leading playmaker, leading the team in scoring (15.5 points per game), 3-pointers (34) and minutes per game (32.5 per game). He’s led the Wildcats in scoring a team-high seven times and has scored in double figures in a team-best 16 games, including six performances of 20 or more points. A 6-foot-9 forward with an ability to play like a guard, Knox is shooting 46.4 percent from the floor and 35.4 percent from 3-point range.
The Naismith honor is the first of the season for the Wildcats and the first for an SEC player.
Knox and the Wildcats return to action on Tuesday. UK will welcome Vanderbilt to Rupp Arena at 9 p.m. ET with the game set to air live on ESPN.
For the latest on the Kentucky men’s basketball team, follow @KentuckyMBB on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat, and on the web at UKathletics.com.
‑ GO CATS –