By KEITH TAYLOR, Kentucky Today
Nick Richards scored 17, reaching double figures for the sixth straight contest and just missed a double-double with nine rebounds, in Saturday’s win at Arkansas. The 7-foot junior is averaging 16 points per game over the past six games.
Making his first start in seven games, Immanuel Quickley had a double-double with 13 points and a career-high 10 rebounds. Ashton Hagans followed with 13 points and six assists, the 14th consecutive game the sophomore guard has dished out five assists or more. Tyrese Maxey added 11 points and Keion Brooks scored 10, including four free throws down the stretch and grabbed seven rebounds.
Kentucky assistant coach Kenny Payne said the play of the team’s veterans proved to be beneficial against the Razorbacks.
“At the end of the day, our veterans have to be good,” Payne said. “You look across the country and you see all these teams, there’s not a lot of wiggle room for anybody, nobody is more talented than anybody else. We say this every day, we can beat anybody, but we can lose to anyone. If you’ve got sophomores and juniors for us at Kentucky, that’s veterans and so those guys have to lead us and they did a great job tonight.”
Although a success, Payne was hoping Calipari could have finished the game.
“ I hate to say it like this, but I wish he hadn’t got tossed,” Payne said. “… (He said) nothing on the way out and probably wanted to choke a few referees, but when we got in, he gave me a hug and said, ‘I’m proud of you. I’m proud of these guys, they fought through it.’”
Payne returned the gesture.
“I just told him this is what you’ve built — overcoming adversity,” he said. “The momentum of that game was headed in their favor. This is a very good Arkansas team — by their record and the way they play. They create a lot of mismatches and they have a lot of good players. For us to come here and come out with a ‘W,’ against a well-coached team, whose atmosphere and culture is changing and (Eric) Musselman is doing a great job here, says a lot about our team.”
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Gametracker: Georgia at Kentucky, 7 p.m., Tuesday. TV/Radio: ESPN, UK Radio Network.
Keith Taylor is sports editor for Kentucky Today. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or twitter @keithtaylor21.