By KEITH TAYLOR, Kentucky Today
LEXINGTON, Ky. (KT) — Kentucky guard Immanuel Quickley has tied his career-high three times this season and is feeling more comfortable as he adjusts to his role with the Wildcats.
“I try to go out and play my own game,” he said. “I try to take bits and pieces of other players but I just want to be my own player and be someone that’s unique and different.”
Quickley scored 16 points and drained two of Kentucky’s four 3-pointers in a 67-53 win over Georgia Tech Saturday. It was Kentucky’s sixth straight win following a 67-64 loss to Evansville that bumped the Wildcats form the top ranking. Kentucky is starting to make the climb back to the top of the rankings and was ranked No. 6 in this week’s Associated Press Top 25 poll released Monday.
Quickley “loves” being part of a three-guard lineup, which also features classmate Ashton Hagans and freshman Tyrese Maxey, Kentucky coach John Calipari has been using since gradate transfer Nate Sestina fractured his wrist during practice before the Thanksgiving holiday.
“I think we’re really versatile when we play three guards,” Quickley said. “Me, Ashton (Hagans), and Tyrese (Maxey) are really good offensively and defensively so you don’t really lose anything when you go three guards.”
As for his own performances, Quickley feels like he has been “playing really good.”
“I feel like I play a lot better, especially on defense,” he said. “There’s always things you can do to get better so I really just try to continue to work and make strides offensively and defensively.”
Since he’s been a major part of Kentucky’s rotation, Quickley has hit a three in every game he has played in this year and has sank a trey in the last 10 games he has appeared in dating to last season.
“(I’m) really just staying diligent and working hard and all thanks to God for what He’s been doing,” he said. “Some games you’ll play good and some games you’ll play bad but as long as you work hard and do the things you’re supposed to do everything will work out for itself.”
The Kentucky guard said the Wildcats (8-1) also have improved their mental toughness since the the beginning of the year.
“We’re all willing to fight,” he said. “As versatile as we are on offense, I think we’re versatile on defense as well.”
Like last year, Quickley said this year’s squad is still going through a learning curve going into this week’s trip to Las Vegas. The Wildcats will play Utah Wednesday, before a showdown against No. 5 Ohio State in the CBS Classic Saturday in Las Vegas.
“We’re a young team,” he said. “We don’t really know each other yet. I think as the season goes on, all of coach Cal’s teams get better toward March and I think this team will.”
Gametracker: Gametracker: Kentucky vs. Utah at Las Vegas, 11 p.m., Wednesday.
Keith Taylor is sports editor for Kentucky Today. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or twitter @keithtaylor21.