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Kentucky Hangs On For 76-74 Overtime Win In Lubbock

January 25, 2020

Junior big man Nick Richards was dominant tonight in leading #15 Kentucky to a huge road win at #18 Texas Tech. The hostile crowd of juiced up students, who were treated to free beer and filled the stands two hours before the game, tried everything they could to get Nick off his game, but he only responded with huge plays on each end of the floor. Richards finished with an incredible stat line of 25 points, 14 rebounds, 4 blocks, and 0 turnovers while playing 39 of 45 minutes. Anthony Davis was the last UK player to post such a stat line, and Davis and Richards are the only players to post such a stat line in the Calipari era. He also only accumulated 3 fouls, which was the key to Kentucky leaving Lubbock with a huge road victory. Other guys made huge plays and shots, but we’ll get to them later. This was Nick’s night, as he was dominant on both ends, going 7-10 over-all and 11-14 from the free-throw line, blocking shots, altering shots, snagging big rebounds, all while doing it all on the offensive end. He hit a huge jumper from the left baseline with 6:18 left, and the Cats looked like they were going to pull it out in regulation, as they led 61-53 at that point. But the Cats didn’t score again from the field, and couldn’t make enough free throws or make enough defensive plays to win in 40 minutes.

Ashton Hagans and Tyrese Maxey both took turns throwing the ball away and coming up empty on drives, and when Immanuel Quickley’s three from the left corner fell short, UK and Texas Tech headed to overtime, knotted at 64. Richards then scored 7 of Kentucky’s 12 points in overtime.  Nate Sestina also made a huge three with 3:21 left in overtime, and Immanuel Quickley made two clutch free throws with 47 seconds left to give UK a 74-72 lead. Texas Tech got a lay-up with 31 seconds left to tie it and was fouled by EJ Montgomery. Kevin McCullar missed the free throw, however, but Texas Tech got a tipped out rebound and called timeout. Then, Terrence Shannon Jr. missed a jumper with 13 seconds left and Richards was fouled on the rebound. Nick calmly sank his two free throws, giving Kentucky the 76-74 winning margin, with 10 seconds to play. Ashton Hagans made a huge deflection, knocking it off of a driving Davide Moretti’s leg with .4 seconds left to virtually seal the victory.

Kentucky scrapped and clawed all night, but shot itself in the foot on numerous occasions, wasting opportunities to widen their lead. This has become a bit of a problem for the Cats, and one that must get corrected. The Cats led by 10 with 14:29 left, and by 9 with 6:36 left. After that, their offensive execution and defensive rebounding went South, as Texas Tech would not go away, and ultimately forced overtime. Quickley was very solid all game scoring the ball, and he may have made the shot of the year so far, as he hit a half-court heave at the buzzer to end the first half. His miraculous shot came after a sloppy Texas Tech turnover, and ultimately that three from 47 feet decided the game. Hagans was sloppy on offense, with 4 turnovers and some head-scratching decisions and a missed layup on the break early on. But Ashton was able to make enough defensive plays, including the last play of the game, to help slow down Texas Tech’s attacking style of offense. Quickley finished with 21 points on 4 threes, but 6 turnovers, as he too made unforced errors and poor decisions. Maxey was inconsistent too, struggling on offense, and getting lost and out of position on defense. Those three guards played 125 of a possible 135 minutes tonight, so fatigue may have come into play some. Johnny Juzang was used to spell all three guards, playing 8 fairly solid minutes and hitting a jumper and a big three in the second half, but also struggled some on defense. Keion Brooks was pretty quiet, as he logged 7 minutes and had zeroes across the board and 1 turnover.

The Cats made many unforced errors, at times trying to force the action, and committed 20 turnovers against only 12 assists. Winning a game on the road against a very solid and well-coached team, with that ratio, is a pretty amazing feat. Kentucky did shoot 7-15 from three for 46.7%, and 21-25 at the line for 84%, and they needed every one of those free throws. The Cats also outrebounded a good rebounding team 38-32, collecting 10 offensive rebounds, but only 2 of those came in the last 25 minutes of play. There were many questionable calls as well, as is the norm nowadays, but the Cats overcame it all and got out of Lubbock with a big-time road win and one that will stick out on the Cats’ post-season resume. At one point, the official scorer had Maxey fouling out with five fouls late in the game, and UK’s staff actually had to correct the officials, and Maxey was let back in the game with only 4 fouls. It is rumored that someone even had a few choice words for the official scorer after the game ended in the hand-shake line. The Cats will look to keep the momentum going home against Vanderbilt next Wednesday night at 6:30 on the SEC Network.



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Kentucky Hangs On For 76-74 Overtime Win In Lubbock

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