Willis’ proposal starts Senior Night and Monk’s free throws cap UK comeback win

Derrick Willis proposes to Keely Potts. (Vicky Graff Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

Senior Night start with an unexpected moment when Derek Willis dropped to a knee and proposed to his girlfriend, Keely Potts, at midcourt during the pregame ceremony that had fans, teammates and even UK coaches cheering.

It was a touching moment that UK fans loved but the mood quickly changed once the game started and UK missed 15 of its first 17 shots. A 14-0 Vanderbilt run pushed the lead to 25-6 and Kentucky looked lifeless.

The Wildcats used their own 13-3 run over a five-minute spurt to get back in the game and managed to get the deficit to 30-24 at halftime. It was UK’s lowest first-half point total of the season even though the Cats did have just 28 in the first half against Florida Saturday.

But the Comeback Cats did it again in the second half and pulled out a 73-67 win thanks to a late 7-0 run and then clutch free throw shooting by Malik Monk. The win keeps UK in first place in the SEC and the Cats can claim the title with a win at Texas A&M Saturday. It was the biggest comeback in the John Calipari era (previously it was the 18-point deficit against Miami in Caliipari’s second game here in 2009). UK also came back from a 19-point deficit against Florida in 1994 under Rick Pitino.

Monk was only 8-for-21 from the field but made nine of 10 free throws to finish with 27 points. Bam Adebayo had 16 points and six rebounds while De’Aaron Fox had 13 points.

Willis made only one shot but it was a 3-pointer with 4:40 to play that gave UK its first lead of the game at 59-57. He did have eight defensive rebounds and three blocked shots along with playing solid defense, especially the final 10 minutes.

After missing 15 of 17 shots to start the game, UK (25-5, 15-2 SEC) hit 15 of 26 the second half and 22 of its final 38 shots in the game. The Cats also went 20-for-26 at the foul line.

2 comments

  1. Phew!!!…should not have been that tough to get the W..I do not feel that this team will be able to make a serious run in March but hope that I am proved wrong. We still have too many players not producing and not improving since beginning of the year. Yes, Willis had some great rebounds and better defense than he has shown, but to only have 1 FG and be 1-4 shooting from the field….and then miss last 2 free throws. He just doesn’t have the leadership, confidence, or consistency for a senior. Wenyen still a train wreck on the floor….0 points and 0 rebounds. Humphries….what more can be said. He just does not have the “want to” or confidence to any kind of contributor. We still don’t defend the 3 or shoot the 3. Our defense has been improving last few games, but we refuse, or are incapable of, a consistent game from start to finish. Is SKJ really that bad?

  2. I agree, Mike. I don’t see this team having what it needs to get beyond sweet 16. I do not see any leadership on the offensive end with this team. To often, they look lost, confused, or just trying to force everything. Defense has improved, but get down 19 to a good team, and this team doesn’t have the drive to make a comeback like this one. The only hope this team has to make a big run in March is that the SEC is much better than anyone thinks, so these would be great wins; not just barely squeaking by against teams they should blow out.

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