/New arena; same old Kentucky

New arena; same old Kentucky

Monk scored 34 points in the first half and 24 in the second to help Kentucky win 99-76 over Ole Miss. It’s not just Monk. Every Kentucky player who made a remarkable play (which was roughly once every 30 seconds during the first half), I would look at my score sheet to see if it was Monk, Bam Adebayo, De’Aaron Fox, or Wenyen Gabriel. Their games are more impressive than their names. Isaiah Briscoe (an old man, a sophomore) in Kentucky delivered a triple-double with 19 points and 11 assists, as well as 10 rebounds. Summary: It was a different team, but the same old Kentucky. John Calipari, Kentucky’s coach, wanted to speak about The Pavilion, Ole Miss’s $96.5 million home. His post-game press conference began with “Wow, how bout this. Before I start, I want to tell you something about Ole Miss. You can see the first-class quality of their work when you walk around campus. “… It looks like this place seats 16,000,” Calipari stated. I told our employees, “You gotta have a look at that place and get some ideas about our place.” He continued, but you get the point. Imagine Kentucky borrowing ideas from Ole Miss about something related to basketball. Andy Kennedy would trade some of those ideas for some Kentucky talent. My heavens! Kentucky put on an amazing show in the first half of the game. Monk alone could have filled ESPN SportsCenter’s Top 10 plays for the day. Monk finished the day with 11 of 16 points from the field, 7 of 7 from 3-point territory and 7 of 8 at the foul line. Monk only had one assist on a team with 24. But, as Briscoe, his teammate, said, “We don’t need Malik passing.” We need him to score the ball and shoot it.” Babe Ruth didn’t bat much, either. Monk, a 6-foot-3-inch, long-limbed shooting guard, was thrown against No. 7 North Carolina at Las Vegas. He scored a Kentucky freshman record 47 point performance on 18 of 28 shots, which helped the Wildcats win 103-100. In that game, he made 8 of 12 3-pointers. He has also scored 23 points against Michigan State, 23 against Arizona State, and 24 against UCLA. Kennedy said that Monk is a great player and that he was a native of Arkansas. “I’ve seen him many times on the (AAU). circuit. He has always been an amazing athlete. “… He made 5 out of 7 threes tonight, and they weren’t all wide open,” Calipari said. Monk relies too much on his fadeaway jump shot. He would like him to take the ball to the basket more aggressively. Both he got Thursday night and the fans enjoyed a great show. Calipari saw many areas the Wildcats could improve on, particularly in the second half where the Wildcats outscored their rivals by only 39 to 37. Calipari stated that “We played as well in the first half as we have all season,” “In the second half we didn’t have enough discipline. We are young and playing all the freshman. It’s hard.” Hard? Ninety nine percent of college coaches want to experience Coach Cal’s hard. He plays with many future NBA stars. Kennedy believes The Pavilion will help him get similar talent to Ole Miss. Calipari stated that they already have a player (Devontae Schuler) from Oak Hill (Va.). We’d take him. Yes. Kennedy would be able to get nine more players like that. It would be great to showcase it in this arena. Rick Cleveland is Mississippi Today’s sports columnist. Check out his columns as well as his Sports Daily blog. Reach Rick at rcleveland@mississippitoday.org.