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Nick Richards “unbelievable” with overall play against Georgia

Analyst Jimmy Dykes said it is a “game changer” if Nick Richards can hit this jump hook consistently. (Vicky Graff Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

Just do what you do. Run, block shots, rebound.

That’s the message on Monday that Kentucky coach John Calipari said he gave sophomore Nick Richards and Richards added that if he could be a rim protector, then UK could win the national title.

Well, Calipari’s pep talk worked because Richards easily had his best overall game of the season Tuesday night in UK’s 63-49 win at Georgia. The Bulldogs got an early lead like every other SEC team has done thanks to five dunks in six minutes. That’s when Calipari gave Richards a chance to play and his defense helped change the game.

He finished the game with three blocked shots and — get this — drew two charges. He also had seven rebounds — his highest total since UK’s second game this year — along with four point.

“The only thing he did one time, he left the basket to go block a shot he had no chance of getting that opened up the rim for a tip in. We don’t want him doing that. We want him around the goal, and if the guy puts his head down and keeps coming, take the charge,” Calipari said.

Well, Richards did take that charge twice so to me the trade-off for one mistake was more than evened out with everything else Richards did.

“We’ve been working on charging and loose balls every day for the last 10 days because three games prior to this, I don’t think we took a charge,” Calipari said.

Nick Richards (Vicky Graff Photo)

Calipari finally admitted that Richards was “unbelievable” in the game in large part because he finally relaxed and didn’t let anything bother him.

“Nick led the troops with that, that anxiety, that pressure. Pressing himself. He just played today,” Calipari said. “Now, he scored four points but it doesn’t matter. Anybody would want him on their team.”

Richards certainly made a believer out of ESPN analyst Jimmy Dykes, a former UK assistant coach. Dykes was near hyper when Richards hit a jump hook to go along with the follow dunk he had for his other field goal.

“That is a game changer right there,” Dykes said after the jump hook. “If he starts making that shot, watch out. Impossible to stop.”

No argument but Kentucky needs his defense more than his offense.

“If he can be a paint protector, not just a rim protector. That’s how long this kid is,” Dykes said.

 

4 comments

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  1. Nick had a great game. It was good to see.

  2. Nick did have a better game, a game that he should have been showing all year, but he didn’t have an “unbelievable” game. Ditto for E.J…maybe this is the start of something special for both of them. Personally, I would like Cal to spend more time coaching than standing in front of the camera. I think many of us get tired of hearing “we are still a work in progress”, “we are still young”, and “UK may not be for everybody”.

  3. Last night was one of the strongest team performances of the season.

    After the Alabama loss, and two so-so wins at Rupp, it was good to see the team play so well again.

    They will need all of that on Saturday against Pearl’s Auburn team. Pearl hates Calipari and will have his guy ready to compete. UK must be ready from the tip.

    Anyone else notice UK controlled the opening tip last night, the first time in many games.

  4. Its no secret that Auburn is going to come full tilt at KY. There is no excuse for not being prepared to meet that intensity. No style points or see how cool I am. Get ready for a last man standing blood bath. Don’t look for help from the refs, they are on the hometown payroll. This team isn’t a “cherry” anymore. They have already been deflowered and better be ready to defend, if not their honor, their lives…literally.

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