Men's Basketball

'Old Guys' Lead Cats Past Vandy

by Tim Letcher

During the John Calipari era at Kentucky, freshmen have typically led the way for Cal’s Cats. But the 2021-22 Cats are Calipari’s most experienced team during his UK tenure.

It was three of those veterans who led Kentucky to a 77-70 win over Vanderbilt on Wednesday night at Rupp Arena.

In the early going, Kellan Grady, playing his fifth year of college basketball, was lighting it up from long range. Soon thereafter, he was joined by Davion Mintz, who is also playing his fifth year, who hit two of his first three shots from three-point land.

The “old guys” helped the Cats establish a 10-point halftime advantage.

In the second half, when Vandy had climbed within a point at 44-43, it was Mintz who drilled a left wing three pointer to give the Cats momentum. In fact, it sparked an 8-0 run that gave UK a 52-43 lead with 12:11 to play.

Also in the second 20 minutes, Keion Brooks Jr., another of the Cats older players, stepped up when his team needed him. After scoring a career-high 27 points on Saturday at Kansas, Brooks notched 20 points in Wednesday’s win. It marked the first time in his UK career that the junior from Fort Wayne, Indiana, has scored 20 or more points in consecutive games.

Calipari challenged Brooks at halftime to be more active in the second half.

“I told Keion at halftime, ‘You’ve got no rebounds.’ What happened to that guy I saw?,” Calipari said. “I told him that if you get five in the second half we’ll win. Good news? He got four. He went out and got rebounds.”

Mintz would finish with 21 points, tying the career high he set last season against Florida.

Calipari was impressed with Mintz on this night.

“Davion played unbelievable today,” Calipari said. “Like really, really good. He just is relentless. And he also runs the floor. He and Kellan spread the court out.”

As for Mintz, he knows that Wednesday just happened to be his night.

“There’s so many guys on this team capable of getting 20 points,” Mintz said. “I can count five more guys on our team outside of that that can do it as well. Like I said, this team is very talented and what goes into that is that unselfishness.”

The veteran leadership continues to propel Kentucky this season. The Cats are now 18-4 on the season and 7-2 in SEC play and are among the hottest teams in the country with the postseason just around the corner.

 

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