On a Saturday where the SEC regular-season title was on the line, the Cats did not disappoint. With what seemed like a day that the Tigers were going to shoot the lights out of Rupp Arena hitting their first four 3 point attempts and shooting a scorching 67% from the field, the Cats battled to show the rest of the league there is a reason they are King. This is the 49th regular-season title for the Kentucky Wildcats.
The Cats clinched the SEC regular-season title and the #1 seed in the tournament behind the stellar play of Tyrese Maxey and Immanuel Quickly and some help off the bench from Sestina and Brooks, JR. Maxey finished with 17 points, 7, rebounds, and 4 assists, and Quickly finished with a double-double, 18 points, and 12 boards. Sestina added 11 points. Brooks, JR. added a much-needed spark off the bench when Richards found himself in foul trouble. Richards finished with 14 points, 3 boards, and 2 blocks in just 19 minutes of play.
The game was a good test for the Cats. It was a physical game that lacked considerable flow due to a large number of fouls and whistles. The Cats’ guards were a combined 95% from the FT line and the team finished at 82%.
Coach Pearl had nothing but praise for this Kentucky team. He predicted a long run in the tourney and said that there wasn’t another team in the nation that had 3 better guards. Coach Cal was pleased with his team playing through the physicality that he knew would come. He had high praise for EJ Montgomery with his play and physical nature. He knew that the Tigers might try to exploit the Cats’ lack of size when all the guards were playing.
All in all, this was the type of contest that would only build confidence for a long run in both the SEC and NCAA Tournaments. It will only prepare them for the grueling nature of the tournaments.