Tyler Ulis earned his third SEC Player of the Week honor this week after averaging 20.5 points and 10.0 assists per game last week. Ulis’ ESPN National Player of the Week honor is the team’s first of the season and the first since James Young claimed the honor on Dec. 30, 2013.
With yet another spectacular week – perhaps his finest of the season –Ulis has inserted himself into the national player of the year race. The Chicago native averaged 20.5 points, 10.0 assists and 2.5 steals in leading the Wildcats to a 2-0 week, including a victory over the South Carolina Gamecocks, who were ranked No. 20 in the USA Today Coaches’ Poll and in a tie with the Wildcats for first place in the SEC heading into Saturday’s game in Columbia, S.C.
Ulis started the week with 14 points, eight assists and three steals in a 34-point victory over Georgia, UK’s biggest win over the Bulldogs since Jan. 29, 1959.
That was just the opening act.
In a battle of two of the SEC’s three first-place teams and against all sorts of adversity, Ulis was simply dominant. After head coach John Calipari was ejected less than three minutes into the game, the assistant coaching staff gave Ulis the reins of the offense, and he answered with arguably the best game of his career and one of the top individual performances in the SEC this season.
Ulis notched career highs in both points (27) and assists (12) to lead UK to a 27-point win in a hostile environment. He made 7 of 14 field goals – including three as the shot-clock buzzer sounded – was 4 of 8 from behind the arc, and 9 of 11 from the free-throw line. Among the achievements Ulis notched following the South Carolina performance:
• Averaging 6.7 assists per game, Ulis is on track to break the UK single-season assists mark set by John Wall in 2009-10
• He ranks first in the SEC in assists per game (6.7) and assist-to-turnover ratio (3.6). He’s 10th nationally in assists per game
• He’s one of only four players in the country averaging at least 16.7 points and at least 6.7 assists per game
• He’s now dished out four or more assists in a school-record 18 straight games
• He’s the first player in school history to have two career games of at least 20 points and at least 10 assists
• He’s now averaging 23.0 points, 8.5 assists and shooting 53.4 percent with a 6.8 assist-to-turnover ratio in UK’s four games vs. ranked opponents (in either the Associated Press Top 25 or USA Today Coaches’ Poll)
• He’s averaging 19.4 points, 7.6 assists and 1.7 steals per game in conference play with a 4.3 assist-to-turnover ratio and a 49.0-percent clip from the floor