Kentucky big man makes big plays against Louisville


Kentucky junior forward Nick Richards celebrates during the Kentucky vs University of Louisville men’s basketball game on Saturday, Dec. 28, 2019, at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky. UK won 78-70. Photo by Michael Clubb | Staff

“Demonstrated performance is how you build your own confidence. If you build your own confidence no one can take it away except you by being arrogant, I say, stay humble and hungry.”

If anyone has taken that advice from Kentucky head coach John Calipari, it’s Nick Richards. 

In UK’s 78-70 overtime win against the University of Louisville, the junior posted his fifth double-double with a 13-point, 10-rebound, one-block stat line in his 34 minutes of play, but it’s what Richards’ stats don’t show that are equally as impressive. 

The 6-foot-11 forward was a force down low for the Cats, drawing more fouls (11) than he had rebounds and fighting for his spot in the post. 

“He was good,” Louisville head coach Chris Mack said. “He’s big as hell. You don’t see that size very often.”

Richards picked up his fourth foul with 14:31 to go and spent five and a half minutes on the bench. He came back at the 8:53 mark and scored seven points and four rebounds in the rest of regulation and in overtime, showing mega discipline when the Cats needed him. Richards credits “playing smarter” for still being effective down the stretch in foul trouble.

“I wouldn’t say I was as aggressive with four fouls, but I was going for as many blocks as possible,” Richards said. “It was my fault and I shouldn’t have let it happen, but I’m just happy that we got this win.”

The big man was even taking charges with four fouls and seven minutes left in regulation—as you might imagine, he’s glad those types of calls ended in his favor. 

“I was really nervous, I was hoping he was going to call a charge,” Richards said. “If he would have called a block, I don’t know what would have happened.”

Richards was making big plays all night, but it was the ones in crunch time that especially stood out, like when he scored seven points in a row and sealed a put-back layup and-one to tie up the game at 68 with just under two minutes to go in overtime. 

“Credit to him,” Louisville center Steven Enoch said. “He’s an animal on the glass and we didn’t do as good of a job as we could’ve of boxing him out, because that’s where a lot of his opportunities came from. Other than that, I feel like he did what he’s capable of. We just have to do a better job next time around.”

Richards celebrated his performance by throwing L’s down to a hyped-up Rupp Arena crowd after the win.

“He hooped tonight,” Kentucky freshman Tyrese Maxey said. “From blocked shots, made big free throws, big layups, I’m proud of him.