Davion Mintz still finding his stride ahead of road test at LSU


Kentucky Wildcats guard Davion Mintz (10) complains about a foul call during the UK vs. Ohio University men’s basketball game on Friday, Nov. 19, 2021, at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky. UK won 77-59. Photo by Michael Clubb | Staff

Hunter Shelton

Davion Mintz and No. 16 Kentucky are looking to keep the momentum going in the Wildcats’ second true-road game of the season on Tuesday against the LSU Tigers in Baton Rouge. 

“Just another statement game,” Mintz said when asked what he felt the Cats could prove in Louisiana. “Trying to get a really big road win, when obviously [LSU] are a really good team and they play well at home.” 

The 12-1 Tigers welcome Kentucky to the Pete Maravich Assembly Center following their first loss of the season, falling 70-55 to Auburn inside Auburn Arena. LSU is a perfect 8-0 at home this season, with an average margin of victory of 32.75 points. 

Tuesday’s matchup will be just the second true-road game of the season for the Wildcats, with the other being a 66-62 loss in South Bend to Notre Dame on Dec. 11.  

Mintz knows that proving that UK can win games away from Rupp Arena will be important for the growth of the team, moving forward: 

“To go somewhere and win and prove that we can bounce back on the road, that’d be big for us.”  

Kentucky struggled to garner any momentum in the December clash against the Fighting Irish, being out-rebounded 33 to 28 while failing to connect on the long-ball, shooting 2-19 from 3-point range.  

Oscar Tshiebwe was the lone bright spot on the night, the big man recorded 25 points to go along with seven rebounds, three steals, two blocks and an assist.  

“Oscar is one of the most unique players in the country,” Mintz said. “I don’t think anyone provides to a team, like he does. It makes it hard to compete without him.” 

In 18 minutes against ND, Mintz scored six points and nabbed four rebounds, but was visibly apart of the 3-point woes, going 0-5 from deep. Through 10 games this season, Mintz is shooting just 27 percent from beyond the arch, 10 percentage points down from his 2020-21 season. 

Part of Mintz’s downtick in shooting can be contributed to a lack of rhythm and routine. UK’s game against ND was Mintz’s first back after missing three games due to an illness.  

“It’s definitely been tough,” Mintz said. “I was shooting the ball really well and then to take a 10-day layoff, it didkind of throw off my rhythm a little bit. So now I’m just trying to get my feet back under me and get into it, it has been a tough stretch.” 

Despite having a tough stretch throughout the beginning of the season, Mintz has been around long enough to know that with time, his performances will get better and better: 

“I’m not discouraged at all,” Mintz said. “It’s just one of those things, you’re practicing every day, you’re trying to stay consistent, but sometimes that’s just how the ball falls. SoI’m super excited to come out and know that I have another chance every other game to find my rhythm again.” 

Mintz has had to learn to settle into his bench role this season. After averaging over 30 minutes a game a year ago, Mintz is down to 19.3 a game through 12 contests this season. Regardless of what rotation the graduate student finds himself in, he’s ready to make an impact. 

“I know I’m looked at to come in and bring a spark, provide the same energy and more when the starters come out. Come in and score the ball, make defensive plays, play fast, have fun and bring energy.” 

The Wildcats are amidst a four-game winning streak since the loss to Notre Dame, winning those games by an average of 33.75 points. While Mintz hasn’t been a vital part of the streak on the stat sheet, he knows that his time is coming: 

“When [my shot] does fall, just lookout,” Mintz said. “I appreciate everybody still rocking with me through this woe. At the end of the day, it’s what the game is, it’s either going to go in the rim or it’s not, so I just have to stay consistent.