Takeaways from Kentucky’s win over Ole Miss


Kentucky sophomore guard Immanuel Quickley celebrates at the end of the game against Ole Miss on Saturday, Feb. 15, 2020, at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky. Kentucky won 67-62. Photo by Jordan Prather | Staff

It wasn’t pretty, especially in the first half, but the Kentucky Wildcats (20-5, 10-2 SEC) pulled through yet another close win, this time over the Ole Miss Rebels (13-12, 4-8 SEC). Seven points was the largest lead of the game for either team and the lead changed nine times in the final five minutes. Here’s a few top takeaways from Kentucky’s 67-62 victory: 

1. EJ Montgomery on the glass

The Cats out-rebounded Ole Miss 41-33 Saturday, 33 of them defensive and the remaining 11 were offensive boards, and out-scored the Rebels 32-20 in the paint. Sophomore EJ Mongtomery didn’t contribute much on offense, having just two points from made free throws and not attempting a field goal all day. However, the 6-foot-10 starting forward had a team-leading eight rebounds, many of which were hard-fought boards, and one of them set the groundwork for one of the most important plays of the game. 

Down 60-59 towards the end of the game, Montgomery grabbed an offensive rebound after a missed Tyrese Maxey three-pointer and fed it right back to Maxey, who made the layup to give Kentucky the lead back with 1:34 left.

“EJ on Tyrese’s missed bank wide-open three, fought for the ball, got on his back and, and he threw it—that’s a will to win,” UK head coach John Calipari said. “He threw it to Tyrese, who makes the layup. As you go through seasons, all you want to see your team do is fight.”

2. Immanuel Quickley clutch down the stretch

Despite going just 1-for-9 from the field, 0-for-5 from three and having just three points at halftime, sophomore guard Immanuel Quickley was one of Kentucky’s most important player in the second half. He came out of the locker room and scored 14 points for Kentucky and hit one of its two made threes, and most importantly, went 7-for-8 from the free throw line. 

“Teammates keep telling me to shoot. Coaches keep telling me to shoot,” Quickley said. “They instill a lot of confidence in me which helps me give a lot of confidence to myself. Really, that’s all just work hard, so when I miss one or miss ten like I did today, I think I was 1 for 10 today, you know, just keep shooting and one has to fall eventually.”

He finished 1-for-10 from deep and missed two total free throws, the first time this season he’s missed more than one free throw in a game. But in the final 11 minutes, he scored 13 of his 17 total points for the Cats. 

“He was great down the stretch, you know we guard him well, they made two or three really tough, tough 15-17 footers, that’s the shot you want them to take and give them credit, he made his share for sure,” Ole Miss head coach Kermit Davis said. 

Quickley finished with 17 points, three rebounds and two assists. 

3. Three-point shooting not Kentucky’s mojo versus the Rebels

The Cats had their second-worst three-point shooting performance of the season, making two of their 22 total attempted threes, good for a dismal 9.1 percent. The only time they were worse from behind the arc was in game four against Utah Valley, when they went 1-for-12. The Cats somehow pulled out the win despite their bad shooting performance, and Quickley says it’ll prepare them for tournament time in March.

“We hear all the stories about a bad shooting night in the tournament and you lose a game,” Quickley said. “Just knowing that we can still win games when we aren’t shooting, you know our defense can come through for us and that’s really what it’s about.”

Quickley and freshman Johnny Juzang had Kentucky’s only two made threes.