By LARRY VAUGHT
Freshman Tatyana Wyatt missed five games due to concussion protocol but certainly is showing now whey Kentucky coach Matthew Mitchell had praised her so much coming into this season.
She had 20 points and 10 rebounds in Tuesday’s 100-62 win over Evansville. That’s a rare feat for a freshman — or any UK player.
“We absolutely believe in her talent and her ability. I don’t ever go into games saying ‘Hey you need to go get 20 and 10 rebounds’ but you all can see that she’s extremely poised offensively for a freshman,” Kentucky coach Matthew Mitchell said after the game.
“She’s getting better defensively; hustling, smart, highly-intelligent player, plays hard, great attitude, walks in with a smile on her face most everyday ready to get better and ready to roll. Just doing an outstanding job. Very gifted, can certainly improve and get better, but we’re happy she’s on our team.”
Mitchell had prepared himself to be patient with Wyatt on her return. Instead, she showed him in the loss at Baylor that she was ready to perform.
“I love the way she handled herself at Baylor. We all kind of had areas we didn’t do great in, but just finding some small victories there, I thought she handled herself well. I thought she just presented herself to the game extraordinarily well and reacted to the difficulty of the game well,” Mitchell said.
“I liked the way she was that night and then she had a nice game on Sunday and really just very little time to prepare for this one. So just got out there and made some plays tonight and was aggressive.”
Junior Maci Morris, who also had 20 points, likes the scoring mentality that Wyatt has.
“She gets the ball down low, she’s going to score it. She knows what to do. She’s going to go pull down a rebound. When she gets it, she’s going to go back up and take somebody’s head off if that’s what it means. She runs the floor. She’s playing great right now, so I’m really excited to see what else she can do,” Morris said.
Wyatt said it was not easy staying positive daily when she could not play, but she knew she had to play extra hard when she came back.
“The leadership on our team is very encouraging. They’re always encouraging other players to be the best they can be. So, that really helps with confidence.,” Wyatt said.
“To get the first double-double in my career was a great feeling. Just knowing that my teammates trust me to have the ball in my hands gives me an opportunity to score, and then just working hard in position to get rebounds was a goal for me.”