Briscoe makes everything stick for UK

Kentucky guard Isaiah Briscoe watches as a UCLA player shoots a free throw during the Wildcats’ game against the UCLA Bruins at Papa John’s Stadium on December 3, 2016 in Louisville, Kentucky.

By Chris Angolia

Teams that often succeed in March usually have multiple things in common; a steady point guard, a cold-blooded scorer, a post presence and a glue guy.

At this point in the season, three of those four things are abundantly clear for UK thanks to De’Aaron Fox running the point, Malik Monk’s ability to go off at any time, and Bam Adebayo’s emergence down low. However, the search for the glue guy has been in question until recently, as sophomore guard Isaiah Briscoe has established himself as that guy since mid-February.

However, Briscoe has not exactly been ‘Mr. Untouchable’ when it comes to scrutiny, as he has been the punching bag for many fans who have expressed their displeasure with UK this season. One thing that has stood out most about the criticism of Briscoe, is that the root of all of that criticism is statistics. But as a glue guy, Briscoe’s stats do not need to stand out, and they don’t.

The New Jersey native will enter the SEC tournament averaging 12.9 points per game, 5.6 rebounds per game, and 4.4 assists per game.

Clearly those are not the gaudiest statistics, but when you are playing alongside Monk, Fox and Adebayo as Briscoe is, you do not need to have crazy numbers, and glue guys usually don’t. What is more important at this stage of the season for UK, is to have Briscoe do what he has done all season, but interestingly enough, opposing coaches realize how important Briscoe is regardless of stats.

“He (Briscoe) is the heart and soul of that team (UK),” Mississippi St. head coach Ben Howland said earlier this season. “If you asked me who am I most worried about, I’m worried about him. They need a tough basket, he’s the guy that delivers. He’s just a winner. He makes everybody else better around him.”

Tough baskets have been a staple for Briscoe this season. Every time a team seems to make a run against UK and especially get the crowd involved, more often than not, Briscoe delivered.

Briscoe will not be the first option to take the game-tying or game-winning shot in the SEC or NCAA tournament – that is reserved for Monk – but what he will be, is that guy who can go get a big bucket when the Cats need him to.

Now some may wonder what exactly a ‘glue guy’ is, and the first thing that comes to mind when describing a team’s glue guy is invaluable. Briscoe does everything that does not show up on your regular box score, like a glue guy does; he defends, he knows how to win, he has grown into a role, and he does things that are, yes you guessed it, invaluable.

The glue guy label that Briscoe has worn this season has not gone unnoticed. Just this week, Briscoe was named to Sports Illustrated’s All-Glue team that recognizes the guys who put it all together for their team. In past seasons, most notably 2012, Darius Miller was named to the All-Glue team and was instrumental in UK’s run to the title.

With postseason basketball finally here, teams are beginning to separate themselves and those teams have all of those four attributes previously mentioned. Winning six straight games over a three-week span in March is no easy task and few teams have what it takes to accomplish that, but UK has evolved into one of those teams due largely in part to Briscoe.