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Could Nick Richards’ defense have led to UK championship?

Nick Richards (Vicky Graff Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

If there had been a NCAA Tournament and Kentucky had made a big run, ESPN analyst Jay Bilas believes it could have been due to junior center Nick Richards.

“The difference in Nick Richards this year is if does get off to slow start he doesn’t let it bother him and still has big second halves,” Bilas said before the NCAA Tournament was cancelled.

“He has matured so well and is such a great finisher. He also blocks and changes everything around the rim. Richards has been an old-school developer and does exactly what you need to have a big guy do to make a bit run in March. He’s the big key for Kentucky.”

He wasn’t the only ESPN analyst to think Richards’ play — especially his defense — could have been UK’s key to March success.

“They are a dynamic defensive team,” Seth Greenberg said before the tournament. “They have a great defensive playmaker at point guard in Ashton Hagans and a huge defensive playmaker in the paint in Nick Richards. Great teams in March have that guy who protects the paint and Kentucky has that.”

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