Three Takeaways From Kentucky’s Win Over LSU
The Cats went to Baton Rouge and came away with one of there bigger wins this season. They now sit in the drivers seat of the regular season SEC championship. Here are three things that stood out last night.
- Immanuel Quickley deserves more praise- I can not remember a UK player that led the team in scoring while getting less national and sometimes even local buzz. He has scored in double-digits in 15 straight game which is the most since Malik Monk did it in 30 straight in 2017. The 15 game streak began against Louisville and in that time he is averaging 18 points per game. He is also shooting 43% from 3 during that span. His consistency has been a huge factor in the Cats recent play. On top of what he provides offensively he is known as one of the better on ball defenders in the SEC. He has made clutch threes and clutch free throws to help seal several wins. Despite all of this he has become a silent assassin that quietly goes about his job. He deserves to be considered for SEC player of the year and should certainly be first team All-SEC.
- Nate Sestina got a big confidence boost- Nate had not made a 3pt shot in quite a while and his confidence seemed a little shaky this month. He shook all of that off in a big way last night. He battled and fought for every rebound and collected 8 of them. He also trusted his shooting ability after missing a 3 early and went on to knock down three big shots from beyond the arc. He finished with 11 points and crossed the 1,000 point career scoring mark while doing so. Kentucky doesn’t have to get 11 points and 8 rebounds from him every game, but they need him to shoot with confidence and rebound the ball in whatever time he is on the floor. If Nate can do those things he greatly increases the teams depth and also helps space the floor when he is on the court. He had a couple forgettable moments when trying to navigate the LSU press late in the game, but that is something that he and the rest of the team will learn from.
- Kentucky has closed out two straight games with no Ashton- Against Ole Miss, Hagans had fouled out and it was left to Tyrese Maxey and Quickley to get the team past the finish line. They had to do the same thing last night when Ashton suffered a thigh contusion. It got a little hairy without Ashton to help break the press late but the Cats got the job done without him again. The team is certainly at its best when Hagans is on the floor and playing well. With that said, these two games can give the team confidence that they can close out games even if Ashton is out for some reason. It also serves as notice to Hagans that this team can do it without you if they have to. Last season if Hagans was out or playing bad it basically doomed the team to a loss. It happened in the SEC tournament against Tennessee and again in the NCAA tournament against Auburn. Obviously the best case thing is to not get in that situation again but in the event that it does happen, these last two games could prove to be very valuable.
The Cats return to Rupp Arena on Saturday for a big game against a surging Florida team that is finally playing like the team they were expected to be before the season. The remaining schedule has no easy games, but that is great preparation for March.