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Kentucky basketball named NCAA March Madness team of the week

The Wildcats were chosen by NCAA March Madness reporter Andy Katz as the top team in the land
Keion Brooks scored 12 points in his season debut.
Keion Brooks scored 12 points in his season debut.(UK Athletics)
Published: Jan. 11, 2021 at 3:47 PM EST
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LEXINGTON, Ky. – The Kentucky men’s basketball team’s recent resurgence has earned the Wildcats NCAA March Madness Team of the Week honors.

The Wildcats were chosen by NCAA March Madness reporter Andy Katz as the top team in the land for games taking place last week. UK went 2-0 with victories over Vanderbilt at home and on the road at Florida.

On Tuesday vs. Vanderbilt, the Wildcats rallied from a nine-point second-half deficit and pulled out a thrilling 77-74 win when graduate guard Davion Mintz hit a game-winning 3-pointer with 47 seconds left. That gave UK its first back-to-back victories of the season.

The Wildcats officially made it a winning streak on Saturday at Florida with their most complete performance of the season. With sophomore forward Keion Brooks Jr. in the lineup for the first time this season, UK beat Florida by 18, 76-58. Brooks was sensational in his return with 12 points (6-of-8 shooting), six rebounds, and a game- and career-high four assists in fewer than 25 minutes.

The win in Gainesville, Florida, was UK’s biggest margin of victory at Florida since 1998. It’s also UK’s first three-game winning streak at Florida since winning three straight in Gainesville from 2002 to 2004.

Kentucky is off to a 3-0 start in Southeastern Conference play, just a half game behind 4-0 Alabama, the Wildcats’ Tuesday night (9 p.m. on ESPN) opponent. It’s the sixth time in 12 seasons under John Calipari UK is off to a 3-0 start in league play. The previous five seasons resulted up in SEC regular-season championships.

During UK’s three-game winning streak, UK has made vast improvements in a number of areas:

  • Kentucky has made 22 of 47 on 3-point shots, 46.8%. In the first seven games, UK shot 25% (30 of 120) from long range
  • UK has made 41 of 53 free throws, 77.4%. In the first seven games, the Wildcats shot 66.2% at the charity stripe
  • Kentucky has been plus or even in assist-to-turnover ratio all three games. UK was plus or even in assist-to-turnover ratio in only two of the first seven games
  • UK has blocked 26 shots, an average of 8.7 rejections. In the first seven games, UK averaged five blocks per contest
  • Kentucky has 26 steals, an average of 8.7 thefts. In the first seven games, UK averaged 5.9 steals
  • Four players have scored in double figures each game. That happened only once in the first seven

Overall, five players are averaging double figures during the winning streak (excludes Brooks, who has only played one game), led by senior forward Olivier Sarr with a 16.0 average. Redshirt freshman guard Dontaie Allen, who was named SEC Freshman of the Week last week, is averaging 14.3 points per game and is 11 of 19 from 3-point range during the stretch.