De’Aaron Fox helps Cats overcome foul-trouble, Mississippi State in Starkville


Kentucky Wildcats head coach John Calipari talks with guard De’Aaron Fox against the Vanderbilt Commodores during the second half at Memorial Gymnasium in Nashville, Tennessee on Tuesday, January 10, 2017. Photo by Michael Reaves | Staff

Chris Angolia

Just as it did last Tuesday at Vanderbilt, UK men’s basketball found itself in the middle of an absolute dogfight and was able to overcome the hostile environment and lots of whistles to take down Mississippi State 88-81.

After 43 fouls were called just a week ago at Vandy, 52 fouls were called on Tuesday night, which made for a very unenjoyable viewing experience for anyone interested. Regardless of the fouls, it was clear that coach John Calipari’s talk about his team’s lack of discipline are indeed true.

The fifth-ranked Cats saw a 17-point lead dwindle down to just three in a little over four minutes of game time due in large part to undisciplined plays by the Cats resulting in fast breaks and easy buckets for the Bulldogs. And had it not been for freshmen De’Aaron Fox and Wenyen Gabriel, UK may very well have fallen victim to an upset Tuesday.

Fox poured in 21 points on 8-of-15 shooting, including eight big points down the stretch that gave the Cats some much needed breathing room, and perhaps his most impressive stat was that Fox did not pick up a single foul in 36 minutes. As for Gabriel, he continued his uptick in production scoring 13 points on 5-of-5 shooting, including three big threes, and grabbed eight boards.

The hostile environment proved to be deadly for Malik Monk, who turned in arguably his worst performance of the year Tuesday night. Despite scoring 14 points, it was obvious that Monk was in no rhythm whatsoever and could not find it. Whether it was his five turnovers, or his technical foul for hanging on the rim, it was clear that Calipari was not pleased with his stud freshman.

A gritty win on the road against a well-coached team is something that should be taken as a positive especially when the Cats’ entire frontcourt was hampered by foul trouble for the duration of the game. And as of late, the Bulldogs have been trending upwards and for UK to leave victorious dealing with foul trouble as well as Monk, Isaiah Briscoe and Bam Adebayo having struggled, a road win of this style will only benefit the Cats moving forward.