Knox starting to return to form


Kentucky freshman guard Kevin Knox and Vanderbilt senior Matthew Fisher-Davis fight for the ball during the game at Memorial Gym on Saturday, Jan. 13, 2018 in Nashville, Tennessee. Photo by Ziyi Liu | Vanderbilt Hustler

Chris Leach

Shai Gilegeous-Alexander might be the new star on the Kentucky basketball team, but let’s not forget about the freshman who first caught fans’ eyes at the beginning of the year.

Since going through a mid-season slump, forward Kevin Knox has quietly scored at least 15 points in three of the last four games. On Saturday, Knox finished with 17 points on 5-9 shooting from the floor.

Recap: UK wins tight game against Vanderbilt

Seven of Knox’s points came from the free throw line, where the freshman went a perfect 7-7. Head coach John Calipari has been on Knox all season to drive to the basket more, and Saturday’s performance was an encouraging sign from Knox.

“I told the guys on the bench when he – the first one that he took, I said, ‘I’m going to keep coming at him,’” Calipari said. “Whether we lose or not, he’s got to figure this out, and the only way they got to figure it out is to do it in the game.”

Knox had shown the ability to drive to the basket in previous games, but Saturday was his best performance in his new style of offense.

“He’s been telling me this whole season to be aggressive and get to the basket and I’m starting to get it now,” Knox said. 

Knox was first thought of as the team’s best shooter, but Wenyen Gabriel and Quade Green have proved to be viable shooters themselves, which made Calipari want to change Knox’s style of offense and force him to go in the paint more.

When Knox initially went through that slump during which he scored single-digit points for three out of five games in December, many were worried that Knox wasn’t worth the hype he built up early in the season, but Calipari was never worried.

“It’s not fair for Kevin Knox, the youngest freshman in the country, to be put in that environment, in those places and have to make plays and free throws,” Calipari said.

Knox hasn’t shown the consistency Calipari wants out of him yet, but if he can continue this stretch of efficient offense and getting to the free throw line, the Cats could take stride of accomplishing their post-season goals. 

Up next for UK is another SEC road game at South Carolina. This will be the Cats’ fourth road game in 13 days after playing no road games during non-conference play. 

Tipoff at South Carolina is at 9 p.m.