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Sport John Clay: Quick, who is Kentucky basketball's most consistent player?

05:35  15 february  2020
05:35  15 february  2020 Source:   latimes.com

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Kentucky basketball sophomore guard Immanuel Quickley has been a model of consistency in 2019-20 Quickley is Kentucky basketball ’ s Mr. Consistency . “He’s a killer,” said teammate Johnny John Clay is a sports columnist for the Lexington Herald-Leader. A native of Central Kentucky , he

john - clay . Quick , who is Kentucky basketball ’ s most consistent player ? Jerry Tipton has covered Kentucky basketball beginning with the 1981-82 season to the present. Kentucky basketball sophomore guard Immanuel Quickley has been a model of consistency in 2019-20 for

Nick Richards is the main man in the middle, the 7-footer in the midst of a breakout junior season. Tyrese Maxey is the happy-go-lucky boy wonder, coming up big in the big games. Ashton Hagans is the facilitator on offense, the ball-hawk on defense.

Dashon Goldson et al. standing in front of a crowd: Kentucky's Immanuel Quickley, middle, and the rest of the Wildcats leave the court after a 76-74 win against Texas Tech at United Supermarkets Arena in Lubbock, Texas, on January 25, 2020.© John E. Moore III/Getty Images North America/TNS Kentucky's Immanuel Quickley, middle, and the rest of the Wildcats leave the court after a 76-74 win against Texas Tech at United Supermarkets Arena in Lubbock, Texas, on January 25, 2020.

And yet I can’t help thinking that through 24 games of this Kentucky basketball season, Immanuel Quickley may be the player most responsible for this team’s success.

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Quickley is Kentucky basketball’s Mr. Consistency.

“He’s a killer,” said teammate Johnny Juzang after the Cats’ 77-64 victory at Tennessee last Saturday.

“I ain’t going to lie to you,” said teammate Ashton Hagans after UK’s 78-64 comeback victory at Vanderbilt on Tuesday night improved the Wildcats to 19-5 overall and 9-2 in the SEC, “every time I passed it to him, I just turn around and go down the court and just start smiling. Because I already know he’s hitting it.”

After all, the sophomore guard out of Maryland has scored in double figures in 13 consecutive games. Over that span, he’s averaging 17.8 points per game, has scored 20-or-more points five times and has made 46.9% of his three-point shots.

And we all know that all season long Quickley has been money at the foul line. He was a perfect 7-of-7 from the stripe on Tuesday, making him 111-of-120 on the season for a blistering 92.5 percent, just a point behind Tyler Herro’s 93.5% last season.

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I was the one who said that when John Calipari finally made the commitment to give the junior forward a chance, then and only then would the Cats start to We forget that his junior year in high school, when he committed to Kentucky , Willis was considered one of the top college prospects in the nation.

Over the last three games, Quickley has made 27 of 28 free throws. And get this: He has not missed more than one free throw in a game this season.

He was 7-of-7 at the foul line against Eastern Kentucky, 8-of-8 against Louisville, 9-of-9 against Missouri and 14-of-14 against Mississippi State.

We’re to the point now where if Quickley does miss a free throw, you scratch your head and wonder what happened.

He’s also become Mr. Clutch.

It was Quickley’s half-court shot and make that gave the Cats a 36-34 lead at Texas Tech and, ultimately, if you think about it, was the difference in UK’s 76-74 overtime win over the Red Raiders. (He finished with 21 points that night.)

Against Mississippi State, he made eight consecutive free throws in the final 51 seconds to help secure the 80-72 victory over the Bulldogs. (He finished with 21 against MSU.)

His three-pointer at Tennessee with 1:32 left extended UK’s lead to 71-61, crushing any Volunteers thoughts of a miracle comeback. (Fifteen of his 18 points that afternoon came in the second half.)

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When Vanderbilt chopped Kentucky’s 10-point lead down to a mere five points with 4:19 to play at Memorial Gym on Tuesday, Quickley calmly nailed back-to-back backbreaking threes — the first from the top of the key, the second from the left wing — to push the visitors’ lead back out to 11 at 68-57 with 3:02 left. Ballgame. (He finished with 18.)

“That’s Immanuel,” said Hagans on Tuesday. “He’s been in the gym a lot. He’s way locked in this year and trying to prove something.”

Considered a contender to be the team’s point guard last season, Quickley lost the battle to Hagans and ended up playing off the ball. He averaged 18.5 minutes per game, starting seven of 37. He ended up averaging 5.2 points, 1.8 rebounds and 1.2 assists. He shot 34.5% from three-point range and 82.8 from the foul line.

This year, “Quick” is averaging 32.1 minutes, 14.9 points, 4.1 rebounds and 1.8 assists. He’s making 40.8% of his three-point shots and is No. 2 in the nation in free throw percentage behind only Terrell Gomez of Cal State-Northridge, who has made 84 of 89 for 94.4 percent.

“He’s a confident kid,” Calipari said of Quickley last month.

He has also been Kentucky’s most consistent kid.

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Doughty, No. 17 Auburn top No. 13 Kentucky 75-66 .
Samir Doughty scored 23 points while making 14 of 15 free throws and No. 17 Auburn finished strong in a 75-66 win over 13th-ranked Kentucky on Saturday in an NCAA Tournament rematch. Isaac Okoro made a key 3-pointer and scored 14 points for the Tigers (19-2, 6-2 Southeastern Conference), who dominated the final four minutes. It wasn't nearly as big as their 77-71 overtime victory over the Wildcats (16-5, 6-2) that vaulted Auburn to its first Final Four last season, but it moved the Tigers into a tie for second place in the SEC.The Tigers hadn't played a ranked team all season but face league leader No. 22 LSU next Saturday.

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