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Immanuel Quickley’s clutch play helps Cats rally beat Ole Miss 67-62 — with help from free throw misses by Rebels

EJ Montgomery fought to get this rebound that led to a Tyrese Maxey score late in Saturday’s win. (Vicky Graff Photo)


Kentucky did so many things poorly and made so many mistakes that it needs some help against Ole Miss — and got it when Breein Tyree, a 79 percent foul shooter, missed the front end of the bonus twice in the final minute Saturday in Rupp Arena.

Kentucky rode the clutch play of Immanuel Quickley to rally to beat Mississippi 67-62 and keep alive its Southeastern Conference title hopes because a home loss to the Rebels could have been devastating.

Quickley was only 4-for-15 from the field and just 1-for-8 from 3-point range but went 8-for-10 at the foul line. He had 13 of his points in the final 11 minutes after UK fell behind 45-38.

“Cal (John Calipari) does not get enough credit for player development,” Ole Miss coach Kermit Davis said. “Quickley was not a factor in the game last year.”

Quickley made his free throws when it counted and Tryee, who had 19 points (UK coach John Calipari said he was “happy” Tyree “only” got 19) and was 4-for-4 at the line going to the final minute, missed twice. Both came with UK leading by one point.

“We had our best player at the free throw line. Had him there a million times,” Davis said. “He is a great free throw shooter. Nobody else would put on the line if I had to pick. He competed his tail off. He’s main guy we would want there.”

Kentucky hit its last 13 free throws and 19 of 24 in the game. Ole Miss was 8-for-11 at the line.

“They got to the line and we didn’t,” Davis said. “Up one and had to make free throws and they did.”

However, Kentucky missed 20 of 22 3-pointers and the Rebels just stayed in the zone defense daring the Cats to shoot. Quickley, Tyrese Maxey and Ashton Hagans combined to go 1-for-18 from deep.

“Kentucky plays old school basketball. Drive it and throw it in the post,” Davis said. “We tried to make them shoot it (outside).”

Kentucky coach John Calipari stressed to his team at halftime it was 1-for-13 from 3-point range and to look inside more. But he also said not do discredit Ole Miss.

“They have done what they did to us to every team. They had Auburn down 19. Last three games they won by an average of 20,” Calipari said. “I don’t want to take away from them. But the biggest thing coming back to us is teams are trying to out rough us. We just have to get lower and not accept it.”

Freshman Keion Brooks Jr. did that twice when he came down with rebounds after Tyree missed the late free throws. Calipari called them the “biggest rebounds” of the game before noting that an offensive board EJ Montgomery got that led to a Maxey layup late was also crucial.

Nick Richards finished with 16 points on 6-for-10 shooting against a zone designed to negate him and also had seven rebounds. Davis called him one of the best centers in the country — again.

Maxey, despite missing all five 3-pointers, was 7-for-8 in side the air and had 14 points — he did not get to the foul line — also with five rebounds and three assists.

“You don’t have to play great every night but in the last part of the game you play to win,” Calipari said.

Kentucky did that and that’s why in a game it probably didn’t play well enough for 38 minutes to win, it still somehow won.


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  1. Cal’s statement, “the last part of the game you play to win” says a lot. That’s exactly what this team did again today. Played the first half like it didn’t matter. Like they were playing AAU ball.
    What did they have, 10 turnovers in the first half, again?
    Do that against a good team, and you get an “L.”
    Richards had an athletic, strength, and size advantage today and only got 10 shots. He should have had 20 with the advantage he had, but the guards are too busy throwing up 3’s before they look inside. Your 4 guards take 43 shots, (make 15) and your best shooter gets 10. Makes absolutely no sense and just makes for getting beat in the tournament.
    I would rather have Richards shooting a 15 footer than Hagans or Sestina taking a layup. You’ve got a better chance for points.
    This team reminds me of 2011 with Brandon Knight when he thought he was the best player on the team. Against UConn in the tournament, he went 6 for 23 and cost UK the game because he wouldn’t get the ball to Terrance Jones or Josh Harrellson.
    Same thing will happen this year if the guards don’t learn to keep your best player involved.

  2. Its almost like the guards are thinking about next year in the NBA instead of winning games for KY now. Our guards are the only thing that can stop Nick.

  3. I think our guards were trying to get Nick the ball, but ole Miss defenders were denying him the ball all day, and mugging him too I might add. Turn overs is what hurt the Cats in the first half. UK’s poor shooting didn’t help either, UK was hurting for second chance points most of the way. Mississippi’s zone slowed the Cats today IMO. Credit Mississippi for a hard fought game. They almost won this game.

    What one on this site is calling a weak SEC this year has a Mississippi team fighting for their lives today for a potential NCAA invitation, come into Rupp Arena and almost hand UK a loss. I will gladly take the win, but UK was fortunate IMO, They will have to play better than this to be a champion.

  4. It seems we just don’t play well at home for some reason. To be honest we haven’t played two halsf of good ball this season and I hoping they are saving it for March madness or its going to be a quick exit.

  5. When you shoot that poorly from 3 point range you usually take an L Ask Auburn the loss to a weak Missouri team by going 1-17 from 3 point range. This game shows them that a bad shooting night can be eclipsed by solid play the last eight minutes of the game. From my perspective a lot of those missed threes were wide open shots. We make 2 or 3 of those and this would have been a blow out. Quix will not have many nights like that from three point land. This type of game happens during an NCAA run. Winning when you don’t play you best.

    Big test Tuesday night. Win that one and a 4 seed if not higher will be in reach and an SEC Championship is in reach as well.


  6. This is the weakest SEC in my memory.

    Can you say, no SEC teams in the Elite 8!!!! If one makes it to the Sweet 16, it will be a major over achievement.

    UK is among the strongest teams in this SEC, battling LSU and Auburn for that dubious honor.

    1. No I can’t PROF. I believe this UK team can reach the Elite 8 or better. I may not have the statistics to back that up but it is how I feel. Obviously you have given up on UK basketball. Sad to see. But that is your choice. Me I am making plans for a trip to see my Cats play in the sweet sixteen or elite 8. Depends on the location.


    2. Professor, that’s pretty deflating talk to a bunch of us Cat fans. All I can say is “we’ll see.” As for UK’s ability to make a deep run in the NCAA, I like their chances. With your posts of late, It almost sounds like you have given up on this program. To that I can only say, WOW!!!! I hope these Cats prove you wrong. If they can’t win it all, I hope another SEC team does.

  7. Professor you got to put one thing in perspective the competition across the nation is about as equal as it ever has been. There’s no really dominate team out there this season. That being said I like our catts chances going deep just as any other out there. Go Cats!!!

  8. This team has not played as well at Rupp as it has on the road, whether it is a neutral court or true away game. That seems odd for a team that relies upon the primary excuse that the players are “so young,” doesn’t it? However, one thing about this team is they don’t bring their game against all opponents, stepping up the level of their play against the likes of Michigan State, Louisville, and Texas Tech, and mailing it in against the likes of Evansville, Utah Valley, Vanderbilt (twice), Ole Miss, South Carolina, and others. Yeah, games against Evansville, et al I guess really don’t matter so much. But, then that is what we should expect from a program dedicated to matriculating kids from high school to the NBA is the shortest time possible because it is a players’ first program now.

    1. Well Professor, if you don’t make it a players’ first program, “bye bye talent” in this day and age. They will go someplace else where it is. I guess according to you, UK should just go ahead and fire Calipari, right? That is what you are driving at here. That said, look at UK’s current roster, it’s not made up of all OAD players anymore. Not every UK player is bolting for the NBA after one year. That said, UK should still want to project itself as a “players first” program IMO. Don’t see the harm in that at all.

  9. My message above is nothing but a regurgitation of messages posted in this thread by others, before I consolidated them into my post.

    It’s seems ok for others to point out the obvious, but not when I do so? Why is that, I wonder?

    Cats79 pointed out the poor play at home. I checked it out, and sure enough, it is provable. I have heard others express that view in previous years as well. This year it is a valid observation, and I restated it in my post.

    Nostalgic pointed out the pathway to the NBA when he said ” the guards are thinking about next year in the NBA instead of winning games for KY now”, and I simply repackaged that message, which I happen to agree with.

    OldFan pointed out the lackadaisical play against inferior opponents when he observed “Played the first half like it didn’t matter. Like they were playing AAU ball.” I simply restated that point, again which I happen to agree with.

    Everyone here knows my perspective, but just in case there is any confusion, I only care about UK, not the NFL, not the NBA. I do not give 2 pennies of interest in the pros, or what players X, Y, or Z does or does not do in the pros.

    I expect UK to compete for national championships every year, which means being a perennial top 8 team. Any perennial top 8 program will deliver the hardware from time to time.

    This team cannot compete on that level. You guys can hope for that all you want, but hope does not equal reality because all the hope in the Big Blue World does not change the fact that this team does not play basketball at that level.

    1. Wow I noticed you made no mention of caring about the young men who choose UK. Sad indeed !

  10. When the program is first, and the program is successful, the players who contribute to that program will be taken care of and their goals will be achieved. However, with players first, the program’s success is merely a matter of happenstance, not design or intention.

    1. Your above post is just more perplexing “spin” to support the firing of HOF Calipari, let’s be honest. You just don’t like his system, and have often said so of late. IMO, It is sort of a stretch Professor to assert that this program under Calipari has not been successful, player first program or not. You are kidding, right? I don’t mind others being critical, we all are at times. My ax to grind with you is you have already counted this team out in 2019-20, and said so on this site. You of all people should know, I would think, that UK basketball is never out of it. Your right mind you, but offensive to many UK fans who support the Cats win or lose.

  11. Prof are you now suggesting that the players and coaches have no desire to see the program succeed? If that were true Nick EJ and Quickly would be playing at Murray St. Good players get drafted from anywhere now a days. They choose UK for a chance to win it all. If not why come? They can be good anywhere.

  12. When the primary goal is matriculating players from high school into the NBA as fast as possible, the focus is not on the program’s success because program success is not necessary to achieve the primary goal and program success does not necessarily occur upon the achievement of the primary goal.

    In contrast, when the primary goal is program success, achieving that goal automatically benefits the players who contribute to that success. There is a cause-effect relationship that cannot be denied. In a program first system, the secondary goal is automatically satisfied when the primary goal is achieved.

    To be crystal clear, program success for me is a perennial top 8 team that can legitimately compete for a final 4 spot and therefore compete for the national championship.

    This team is not that kind of team. I am sorry if this conclusion is offensive to some, but it is based on objective standards.

    Kentucky may get shaken by a magnitude 7 earthquake today because the New Madrid fault is never dormant, but the big one is not very likely to occur. Similarly, no team is ever “out of it” but that does not mean they have a legitimate shot at it.

    Why is it that one of the top 3 efficient teams have won the championship 15 of the last 18 tournaments? Does that sound like a wide open competition that any team can and does win? This UK team is not in the top 30 most efficient teams this season. It will be a 2nd round exit, with a greater probability of falling in round 1 than surviving to the Sweet 16.

    1. I do not believe that being a player 1st program means getting players to the NBA as soon as possible. That is your opinion that suits your narrative. Please show me where Cal has said his main goal is to use UK to get players to the NBA as quick as possible. If I remember correctly he said his goal is to help players achieve there dreams and goals(what ever they may be) and intern UK would achieve theirs. The fact that he recruits players of such a talent level that they do not need to stay for 4 years says a lot about the quality of the individuals. Also please tell me which UK 1st coach(outside of Rupp) has done a better job than Cal has in the same period of time. I don’t have the numbers but I am sure you do.

  13. And BTW, I am not spinning anything. I speak in objective ways, showing the basis for my conclusions to anyone to consider.

    If you disagree with my conclusions, show me why my basis is flawed.

    1. Whatever Professor. Here’s my suggestion for you. Stop all the objective analysis all the time, and just enjoy the season, could you do that? Consider, UK sits at No. 1 in the SEC standings right now, and is on a winning streak. Probablya top 10 team soon. In all your negativity of late, you must miss the likes of Catmandoo1000 and Mike tremendously, The negative nellies who suddenly disappeared from this site right after the holidays. That said, you sound just like them. Like I said, you have a burr in your saddle and it’s Calipari. That is obvious. Players first baby!!!! Go Cats!!!!

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