Sophomore guard averaged 23.5 points and 3.0 steals per game in two wins last week
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – After back-to-back 20-point games in victories over LSU and Florida last week, Kentucky men’s basketball sophomore guard Immanuel Quickley was named Southeastern Conference Player of the Week on Monday.
UK owns a two-game lead in the SEC standings with four regular-season games remaining and Quickley’s recently play is a big reason for the cushion. He averaged 23.5 points and induced a career-high three steals in both victories last week.
Monday’s honor is the second of the season for Quickley, who has produced clutch moments all season long for the Wildcats.
Kentucky has dominated the weekly SEC awards under John Calipari. UK has won more weekly SEC honors (107) than any other school during the Calipari era, including 83 SEC Freshman of the Week honors and 24 SEC Player of the Week awards.
The sophomore guard began the week by helping UK to a 79-76 win in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Quickley scored 21 points and added five assists, four rebounds and three steals. The Havre de Grace, Maryland, native was 5 of 5 from the floor in the second half as the Wildcats shot a season-high 73.8% during the second half.
Quickley then scored a career-high 26 points in the win over the Gators – and UK needed every one of them. He scored 20 of 28 points once the Wildcats trailed 40-33 and also added 17 of 19 during a decisive second-half surge. Twenty-two of his 26 points came after intermission. He made four 3-pointers and also contributed a trio of swipes.
During the second half of this week’s victories, Quickley averaged 18.0 points per game and shot 75% from the field and 71.4% from 3-point range with five 3’s.
For the season, Quickley is averaging a team-high 15.7 points per game. He’s scored in double digits in 16 straight games, the longest streak for a UK player since Malik Monk had 30 straight such games in 2016-17. Quickley has topped double-figures in 22 of 26 games he’s played this season and boasted 20 or more in seven games.
Since his double-figure scoring streak began against Louisville, Quickley is averaging 18.5 points per game to go along with 4.3 rebounds and 37 3-pointers while shooting 45.1% from long range.
What those stats don’t fully reveal is just how clutch Quickley has been. He’s become Kentucky’s go-to scorer down the stretch late in games, breaking the will of more than a handful of opponents with daggers from beyond the arc and clutch free throws.
This week only accentuated just how clutch he’s been.
ESPN’s Jay Bilas said during the LSU game: “That young man has got ice water in his veins.” With Karl Ravech lamenting, “On a team that has (Tyrese) Maxey and (Nick) Richards and (Ashton) Hagans, Quickley has become the go-to guy.”
Over the course of UK’s current six-game winning streak in the second half alone, Quickley is averaging 15.5 points and shooting 57.1% from the field, 58.8% from 3-point range and 92.1% from the charity stripe.
“The kid lives in the gym,” Calipari said. “He’s kind of like Tyler (Herro). He’s like Shai (Gilgeous-)Alexander, those guys. He’s just like them.”
After Herro set a new school record at the free-throw line last season, Quickley is threatening to make it a short-lived mark. Quickley is currently making 91.5% at the line, just behind Herro’s 93.5%. He’s ranked first in the SEC (through games on Feb. 22) and fifth in the nation in the category. He’s enjoyed three different stretches of 24, 18 and 17 consecutive makes and missed more than one free throw in a game just once this season.
Further illustrating his cool, calm, clutch demeanor, Quickly is 30 of 31 at the free-throw line this season when it’s a two-possession game at any point with 3:00 or less to go or the game is in overtime. Against Mississippi State, Quickley made all 14 of his free-throw attempts tying a school record for makes without a miss. Previously, Louie Dampier (Dec. 22, 1966 vs. Oregon State), Ramel Bradley (Nov. 7, 2007 vs. Gardner-Webb) and Jodie Meeks (Jan. 13, 2009 at Tennessee) also hit 14 without a miss. Quickley made eight of them in the final minute as Mississippi State tried to extend the game.
Mirroring his even-keel approach, Quickley has been Kentucky’s most consistent performer in hostile territory. He’s averaging a team-best 18.6 points in addition to 5.1 rebounds and 19 3-pointers (on 54.3% shooting) in UK’s eight true road games.
The Wildcats return to action at Texas A&M on Tuesday. Tip time is set for 7 p.m. ET and the game will air live on ESPN.