By LARRY VAUGHT
Texas A&M coach Buzz Williams had the defensive plan in place he hoped could help his team stay with Kentucky Tuesday.
“I think our premise defensively is to do everything that we can to keep the ball out of the paint. We can’t afford to foul. We can’t afford to get in rotation. We have to work incredibly hard to not get obliterated on the glass. Relative to those characteristics, we want to force the team to shoot more threes than normal,” Williams said after UK’s 69-60 win.
The strategy kept UK center Nick Richards from being a big offensive factor in the game. However, it did open 3-point shots and sophomore Immanuel Quickley went 8-for-12 from long range to score a career-high 30 points.
“I was a little hot, I guess. Teammates were finding me in good spots,” Quickley said after the game.
He was able to knock down shots from the corner that coach John Calipari had anticipated would be open.
“We worked on it pretty much after the last game, that was the first thing we worked on. We knew (A&M) left open corners, we watched a lot of film on it. Just being ready for that, credit to the scouting report,” Quickley said.
The guard didn’t let the physical play bother him, either.
“It was a real physical game, Nick and Nate (Sestina) took charges. I am really proud of my guys. We had to come and match their energy because they bring a lot of energy,” Quickley said.
No one has played with more energy or efficiency, though, lately for Kentucky than Quickley.
Quickley is averaging 21.8 points, 3.5 rebounds and 1.9 assists per game the last eight games. He has gone 23 of 47 (49 percent) on 3-pointers and made 55 of 60 free throws (92 percent) in those game.
He’s hit at least one 3-pointer and scored at least 17 points in all eight of those games.
In 16 SEC games, he leads the league in free throw percentage at 90.9. He’s second in 3-point shooting at 48.8 percent and is now sixth in scoring at 19.1 points per game after going for a combined 56 points in the last two games.
In SEC play, Immanuel Quickley ranks first in free-throw percentage (90.9), second in three-point percentage (48.8) and sixth in scoring (19.1).