By LARRY VAUGHT
Kentucky has had some sensational individual performances in NCAA Tournament play but the best in the John Calipari era came Friday night in Memphis.
Fox scored a career-high 39 points on 13-for-20 shooting from the field and 13-for-15 at the foul line as UK knocked UCLA out of the NCAA with a n 86-75 win.
Fox scored UK’s first eight points and then put the game away at the foul line in the final two minutes.
“First of all, I just want to say thank you to my teammates,” said Fox, who had just one turnover in 36 minutes of play. “I got it going early and Coach said keep getting me the ball. At halftime I thought I was shooting too much and all my teammates said to keep doing it.”
He totally outplayed UCLA freshman point guard Lonzo Ball, the nation’s top-ranked player. Ball had 10 points on 4-for-10 shooting, eight assists and four turnovers in 38 minutes.
“Going against him got the competitive juices going,” Fox said.
It helped that Malik Monk got going. He didn’t score in the first 12 minutes and then finished with 21 points on 8-for-17 shooting. He had 10 points in just over two minutes early in the second half.
Fox and Monk combined for 38 of Kentucky’s 50 points in the second half.
And what about senior Dominique Hawkins? He had 11 points and made three 3-point shots.
Derek Willis struggled with his shot, but hit his final two late in the game. He finished with eight points, eight rebounds and four assists.
Isaiah Briscoe had just five points, but had seven rebounds and four assists. Bam Adebayo did not have a point until late in the game when he got a key dunk. But he had a career-high five assists and four rebounds.
“We gave up 97 (when UK lost to UCLA in December). I remember that. We all remember that. Today we gave up 75. That shows we have improved,” Fox said.
Now it is on to play North Carolina, a team UK beat in December when Malik Monk had 47 points.
“Be another classic. We don’t want 100 to 103. I think we are playing good enough defense we can keep this game a little lower scoring,” Fox said.
North Carolina had an easy time beating Butler Friday to advance to Sunday’s game at 5:05 EST.
“How good are they” They have gotten better. One of our guys had to get 47 for us to win at the buzzer,” Calipari said.