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Kentucky Basketball

Maxey Leads the Cats In Upset of #1 Michigan State

November 6, 2019
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The Tyrese Maxey coming-out party was held late last night in Madison Square Garden as the smiling freshman set a record for points scored in a freshman debut at UK. Maxey scored from all over the court, as he tallied 26 points in a 69-62 upset over the pre-season #1 team in America. An early candidate for the shot of the year came with one minute left in regulation, and 5 seconds left on the shot clock as Maxey pulled up from 27 feet out and drained a three to put Kentucky up 5, and virtually sealing the victory. Former Cats John Wall and Keith Bogans, Kevin Durant, UK target Jonathan Kuminga, UK commit Lance Ware, and many other stars were in attendance to watch Maxey’s coming out party first hand on the biggest stage of the college basketball regular season.

The Cats led for all but 32 seconds, in stifling the Spartans on the defensive end and controlling the game throughout. Kentucky’s 3 dynamic guards led the scoring, as they were the only Cats in double figures, totaling 47 of UK’s 69 points. Solid contributions were made by Nate Sestina, with 7 points and 6 rebounds, as the senior also provided steady leadership and communication on the floor. Nick Richards also had a solid outing, totaling 7 points, 4 rebounds and a block in limited minutes because of his ankle injury and foul trouble. Even Kahlil Whitney hit a huge three midway through the second half in the middle of a mini-run in which the Cats scored three points on three consecutive possessions to take a 54-41 lead. Michigan State answered with 7 straight points, but the Cats held off the Spartans the rest of the way with great defense, rebounding, and Maxey’s heroics. Maxey scored 9 of UK’s last 15 points, and Sestina put the exclamation point on the win with a dunk in the last seconds on a run-out. 

It was a total team defensive effort, led by the stifling perimeter defense by Hagans, Maxey, and Quickley, and solid communication, switching, and rotation, which was impressive to see in the Cats’ first game of the season against pre-season #1. UK held Michigan State to under 20% from three and under 40% over-all and forced 16 turnovers. The Cats also were able to match Michigan State on the boards, as both teams pulled down 30. That stat was a big factor in UK being able to maintain the lead, as they were able to limit Michigan State’s possessions while forcing them to shoot a low percentage. The Spartan All-American Cassius Winston finished with 21 points, but he had to work for everything he got, only shooting 1-7 from three, and only totaling 4 assists with 3 turnovers. No other Spartan scored in double figures. Another key stat in the game was Kentucky’s shooting from the free-throw line, as the Cats were able to convert on 25-32 free throws, with Maxey and Quickley going 16-18.

This was Kentucky’s 9th win over a #1 team, and the win improved Calipari to 6-4 over-all against #1 teams, now 3-2 at Kentucky. Calipari is the only coach in history to have a .500 record or better against #1 teams. Kentucky has now beaten a #1 team in consecutive years for the first time in its history as well. This win will be huge for seeding come March as well, as Michigan State will be one of the best teams UK will face all season. Getting such a huge win so early is great for the future, but also for the confidence of this team in general. While the Cats certainly weren’t perfect last night, they looked like the better team throughout, controlled the game, and made the plays down the stretch to win a big one. The Cats are next in action Friday night at Rupp when they meet Eastern Kentucky at 7 pm, a game that will be televised on the SEC Network.

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Maxey Leads the Cats In Upset of #1 Michigan State

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