Ulis, Murray receive multiple SEC awards

Guard Tyler Ulis yells to a teammate during the first half of the game against the Florida Gators at the O’Connell Center on Tuesday, March 1, 2016 in Gainesville, Fl. Kentucky defeated Florida 88-79.

Anthony Crawford

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The SEC awards were announced Tuesday morning and like many predicted, UK’s backcourt featuring sophomore Tyler Ulis and freshman Jamal Murray were among the players that received awards.

The headline award, SEC Player of the Year, was thought by many to be a two-horse race between Ulis and LSU freshman Ben Simmons. In the end, Ulis being able to lead UK to share of the SEC Championship was the difference and the UK point guard received the award.

Ulis is the first UK player to be named SEC Player of the Year since 2012 when Anthony Davis won the award as a freshman en route to a national championship.

That would only begin the awards given to Ulis as he also came away with SEC Defensive Player of the year. The 5’9” guard has developed a reputation of being a pesky defender by hounding opposing point guard in his two years at UK. Ulis made sure that the award stayed with the Cats as Willie Cauley-Stein won the award last year. 

“That’s an award that I like the most because I take pride in my defense. I really don’t like being scored on and I didn’t really know if people noticed the defense I played,” Ulis said. “But that was a surprise to me that I won that award and I’m happy to have it.”

The next award for Ulis was All-SEC First Team and he was joined by Murray on this occasion. Ulis was first in the SEC in assists with 7.4 per game and Murray was third in the conference in points with 20 per game.

Murray has set himself apart this season as not only being one of the best scorers in the nation, but also one of the best here at UK since John Calipari became head coach.

The Canadian guard has hit a three in every game so far this season and if the season was to end today he would have the highest scoring average for a player under Calipari at UK.

“It’s an honor. I enjoy those awards and I’m proud of where I’ve come from and how far it’s taken me to this point,” Murray said. “Just focused on what’s next and the games we have ahead and this practice.”

The award season is just starting for college basketball and expect for both of UK’s backcourt stars to receive a few more before it ends.