Photo by Regina Rickert
Kentucky Basketball

Five Takeaways from Kentucky’s 71-59 win over Mizzou

January 4, 2020

Kentucky got off to a slow start but took a five-point lead into halftime and never looked back. They scored 27 points from the free-throw line and held Mizzou to just 36.2% shooting from the field, the fifth-lowest percentage by a UK opponent this season. Richards and Quickley scored 44 of Kentucky’s 71 points tonight, pacing the Cats on offense. Here are the five biggest takeaways from the game:

Nick Richards with his sixth double-double of the season

Nick Richards came into his junior season with just one career double-double, a 25-point, 15-rebound game against Fort Wayne his freshman year. That’s one double-double in 74 games played. This season, Richards has six in thirteen games played, including the 21-point, 12-rebound showing tonight against the Tigers of Missouri. Nick has been a revelation this year and tonight was another step in his development. Mizzou is a physical team and Nick not only handled the physicality but thrived, scoring his season-high while seeing his usage (the percent of plays he is involved in) at a season-high 28%.

Kentucky started slowly, scoring just one field goal in the first six minutes of the game. However, Richards took it upon himself to jump-start the offense, scoring fourteen of the first sixteen points for the Cats. He was also able to get Jeremiah Tilmon, Mizzou’s best big man, in foul trouble which threw off his first game returning from injury.

Immanuel Quickley providing shooting from three and the free-throw line

Quickley dropped 23 tonight to lead the team in scoring, hitting all nine of his free throws and going 4-8 from three. According to KenPom’s ORtg, which measures individual offensive efficiency, this was Quickley’s best game on offense this season (149) and the eye test backed it up. Quickley is now shooting 95.8% from the free-throw line. He has now hit 17 free throws in the last two games, something that is an automatic offense with his ability to hit from the charity stripe.

Kentucky struggled from the three-point line early in the season, with a lot of that falling on Quickley’s 30.7% three-point percentage through his first ten games (he missed the Utah Valley game). However, after shooting 4-8 tonight, he is up to a more respectable 34% on the season. His continued improvements from three will be a big part of Kentucky’s improvement this year.

Foul trouble for Mizzou led to Kentucky points

Four players for the Tigers finished the game with at least 4 fouls, including three starters and newly-healthy Jeremiah Tilmon. The three Smiths (Mitchell, Michael, and Dru) all had four fouls, which led to 27 points on 30 attempts from the free-throw line for the Cats. Kentucky shot 90% from the free-throw line and is now above 80% from the on the year, the fifth-best percentage in the country.

Hagans registers five turnovers and suffers a minor injury

Ashton Hagans finished the game with seven points and seven assists, which on the surface looks fine, but he also turned the ball over five times. His 82 ORtg was his second-lowest of the season (only behind the 36 ORtg he had in the Evansville game). All seven of his points came from the free-throw line, going 0-3 from the field.

Hagans also was hurt in the final minutes of the game on a non-contact closeout and came off holding the back of his ankle. However, Calipari said after the game it was not an Achilles injury and was likely just a low-ankle sprain. This is good news as his on-ball defense will be needed in Kentucky’s next game against Anthony Edwards and the Georgia Bulldogs.

EJ Montgomery and Kahlil Whitney a no show

While Nick Richards shined, his fellow bigs EJ Montgomery and Kahlil Whitney continued to struggle. EJ went 1-4 from the field and scored just three points while pulling in four rebounds. Whitney played just eight minutes and went 0-2 from the field. It has not been as problematic due to the play of Nick Richards, but Kentucky will need another big to step up as they get into the heart of SEC play.

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Five Takeaways from Kentucky’s 71-59 win over Mizzou

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