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Monk’s record-setting game enables Kentucky to beat North Carolina 103-100

By LARRY VAUGHT

Think about this. North Carolina shot 53 percent overall from the field, 53 percent from 3-point range and 75 percent at the foul line. North Carolina got 44 points in the paint, including 18 second chance points. It got 19 points from bench players. And it made just nine turnovers.

Yet one of the more memorable performances in Kentucky basketball history by Malik Monk enabled UK to beat the Tar Heels 103-100 Saturday in Las Vegas.

Monk had 27 points — in the first half. He was 10 of 16 from the field, including 4-for-8 from 3-point range. He slowed down in the second half, but only slightly. He finished with 47 points on 18-for-28 shooting from the field and 8-for-12 from 3-point range, including the 3-point shot with 16 seconds left that gave UK a 101-100 lead.

“Malik was off the charts. Made three of his last four shots and they were big-time shots for them,” North Carolina coach Roy Williams said after the game. “He’s really good. I saw him put on a show at Peach Jam as a high school player and tried to recruit him. He put on a show. I thought we made him work for it, but hard to say you feel good about your defense when a guy gets 47.”

Monk smashed the UK freshman single-game scoring record of 35 points set by Terrence Jones and Jamal Murray. And get this — he did it in front of 47 NBA scouts at the game in Las Vegas who got to see him make spot-up 3-points, finish inside in contact and hit a variety of mid-range jumpers. His 47-point effort was the best by any Division I player this season.

He’s now had 20 points in seven of UK’s 11 games but none of the performances matched what he did Saturday on CBS-TV.

“I may have seen a performance by a freshman this good but I certainly can’t remember one. Just amazing,” CBS Sports’ Seth Davis tweeted.

“Best game I’ve ever witnessed from a UK player,” Larry Glover of LarryGloverLive tweeted.

Or how about this one from UK assistant football coach Lamar Thomas: “Booom !!!!!!! Boy I got to meet Monk !!!!!!that boy 🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥”

Finally, ESPN analyst Jay Bilas may have put it best in this tweet: “Wow. Malik Monk. Damn.”

Monk had the sixth best scoring game in UK history. Jodie Meeks’ 54-point outing against Tennessee in 2009 is first. Dan Issel scored 53 and 51 in games in 1970. Cliff Hagan had 51 in a game in 1953 and Bob Burrows had 50 in 1956.

“The first half he was ridiculous,” Kentucky coach John Calipari said on CBS after the game. “They can’t guard him when he is going to the basket. He is playing better.”

What about that last shot?

“We figured he was going to pull up and shoot,” Calipari said.

Why not? He figured he could not miss.

“We ran a play and I made my first shot. I knew I would make the rest,” Monk said. “I was just able to knock down that last shot. We are young but we got a lot of fight and effort.”

6 comments

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  1. Mike

    WOW…..does it get any better than that?? One of the most exciting games this set of eyes has seen in some time. Monk was out of his mind. On the down side….Humphries & Willis = NO OFFENSE and NO DEFENSE. I thought that Willis would continue to be able to show some leadership and that Humphries had really improved this year. Wrong on both counts. Glad that Cal kind of called them out after game without mentioning any names. They had a combinerd 39 mins. and 5 points.

  2. Cats79

    Mike, I agree about what you said about Willis, but Humphries he try his best he does more than you think .Go Cats!

  3. Mike

    Humphries has shown better in spots. I would even like to see Tai given a shot. He certainly couldn’t look any worse than Humphries.

  4. KingGhidora

    I’ve been saying it for weeks now. Monk just might be the very best player to ever put on a Wildcat jersey. I think some people might agree with me now. If you look back through my comments here you’ll see where I said this probably a month ago. The guy has the total package. Inside, outside, underneath or over the top. He can score from any of those positions. He has the hang time of a 747. He has a killer drop step jumper from 25 feet (maybe more) and he actually jumps when he shoots. He’s long, quick and can jump with the best of them. He has inside moves, outside moves and (even though it’s nearly a lost art) mid-range moves. I got really upset when they didn’t get him the ball in the UCLA game. That game might well have turned out differently if they had.

    Monk has superstar written all over him. His only weakness is he’s not tall enough for a 2 guard in the NBA. But when you shoot like that from a true jump shot it doesn’t hurt him that much. He plays excellent defense most of the time too. But he did get beaten a lot by a talented, well coached UNCheaters team.

    I don’t know what else the guy could do except maybe rebound but he can’t be everywhere at once. This guy has MJ level talent. I’m not joking. I’m not exaggerating. The thing that made Jordan so great was his ability to shoot over you or go around you or over you. Monk has the same qualities. I noticed these traits in MJ early in his UNC career. Monk is the only guy I’ve seen since that has the same qualities. He may not shoot as well as Curry but Curry can’t sky like Monk can. He is truly an incredible player and I’m sticking by my contention that he “might” be the best UK has ever had.

  5. RJ

    Hell of a game. These players are young. When they get tired of chasing other good teams up and down the court, they will learn the importance of defense and as Cal said, we got exploited last night. (not that NC did any better). These kids aren’t grown up yet. When they are, we’ll be a hell of team. Clock’s ticking!!!

  6. TrueBlueJohn

    I have been watching and listening to UK basketball for over 65 years, and I can only remember two other games where a UK player was on a par with Monks performance. One was Jody Meeks scoring 54 against Tennessee, and the other was Dan Issel scoring 51 against LSU when Pete Maravich scored 64. What was amazing about Issel was that in three games in February of that year he scored 151 points. I doubt if Monk will accomplish anything like that because he will be a marked man from now on, but it is going to be fun watching him for the rest of the season. That was a great college basketball game.

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