BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Forty-seven points. That was more than enough for Malik Monk to earn Southeastern Conference Player of the Week honors, while De’Aaron Fox hauled in SEC Freshman of the Week accolades after posting his team-leading fourth double-double behind a career-best 24 points and 10 assists in the win over No. 7/6 North Carolina.
The dynamic duo provided the game-winning plays to seal a memorable 103-100 victory over No. 7/6 North Carolina in the CBS Sports Classic on Saturday, and both performances were award-worthy.
A game that has been billed as the best of the college basketball season thus far had plenty of star power, but perhaps none more than UK’s backcourt tandem, which combined for 71 points, 12 assists, four rebounds and three steals in Kentucky’s marquee win of the season thus far.
Monk scored off an assist from Fox for the game’s first points, setting the stage for an offensive outburst from the backcourt duo. The Lepanto, Arkansas, native finished with a freshman program-record of 47 points on 18-of-28 shooting from the field and 8-of-12 shooting from behind the arc. He added three free throws to his final total.
Fittingly, the duo teamed up for the go-ahead basket with 22 ticks remaining. Fox snared a rebound and charged up court. When the defense collapsed, he fired a pass to the left wing where Monk was waiting. A pump-fake was followed by an almost automatic swish. Fox would seal the victory with a pair of free throws with just three seconds to go for the final 103-100 margin.
In between, the duo set records galore.
- Tied Dan Issel for the sixth-most points ever by a Wildcat in a single game
o Issel did it Feb. 23, 1970 in a win at Alabama
- Monk’s 47 points were the most a Wildcat has scored in a game since Jodie Meeks recorded the single-game record of 54 points at Tennessee on Jan. 18, 2009
- He’s the only player in the John Calipari era to score more than 40 points in a game
- He became the eighth player in the Calipari era to eclipse 30 points
- Monk’s 47 points tied the second most ever scored against North Carolina. It’s the most since Rich Yuknus (Georgia Tech) scored 47 on Feb. 14, 1970. The record is 48 by Dick Groat of Duke on Feb. 29, 1952
- The 47 points were the most in a single game by an SEC freshman since Chris Jackson scored 55 points vs. Ole Miss on March 4, 1989
- They were the most any Calipari player has ever scored in college
- They are also the second-most points by a freshman in Division I college basketball since at least the 1996-97 season. Keydren Clark of St. Peter’s scored 48 on Nov. 23, 2002
- The 47 points are the most against a Roy Williams-coached UNC team. The previous record was 46 by Tyrese Rice of Boston College on March 1, 2008
- Monk made 18 field goals. The last Wildcat to make 18 shots in a game was Melvin Turpin on March 8, 1984
- He scored 27 first-half points
- He scored more than any Wildcat has scored in a half this season
- His 27 points tied Jamal Murray for the most by a Wildcat in the Calipari era in any half
- It was the most in the first half by a Wildcat in the Calipari era
- Murray scored 27 in the second half against Ohio State last season – also in the CBS Sports Classic
Monk has now scored in double figures in all 11 games this season and topped 20 or more points in seven games. He’s the first player to score 10 or more in 11 consecutive games since Jamal Murray scored 10 or more in 34 straight a season ago.
He knocked down eight 3-pointers on the night and has hit at least one in all 11 games. Furthermore, with 38 3-pointers on the season, he’s ahead of Jodie Meeks (36) at this time through 11 games when Meeks went on to set the UK single-season made 3-point field-goals record in 2008-09.
Monk’s currently averaging 21.9 points per game. No Calipari-coached played has ever averaged more than 21.2 points for an entire year (Dajuan Wagner at Memphis in 2001-02).
Fox’s steady performance should not be overlooked. The Houston native, logged his team-best fourth double-double. It was the first double-double in the points/assist variety that North Carolina had yielded since Pitt’s Cameron Wright turned the trick on Feb. 14, 2015.
His 10 assists and two steals were game highs, and no rebound was bigger than the one that set up Monk’s go-ahead 3-pointer.
With 10 assists against the Tar Heels, Fox has amassed 79 for the season. That’s ahead of single-season record-holder Tyler Ulis’ pace of 53 through the same number of games a season ago. Prior to Ulis’ record-breaking year, John Wall (2009-10) held the record and he had 70 assists through the first 11 outings. It should be noted that both Ulis and Wall missed a game during the first 11 contests.
Fox is averaging 15.9 points, and SEC-leading 7.2 assists and 5.3 rebounds per game.
Monk’s honor as Player of the Week is his first and the first for any Wildcat this season. He previously was named the league’s Freshman of the Week on Nov. 21. Fox has now earned his third SEC Freshman of the Week nod, the most of any SEC player this season.
All told, UK has a league-leading five SEC honors this season. This marks the first time a school has swept the awards this season and the first time since Tyler Ulis won Player of the Week and Jamal Murray Freshman of the Week on Feb. 15, 2015.
The Wildcats will resume action with a 7 p.m. tip at Louisville on Wednesday in the KFC Yum! Center. The game will air live on ESPN.