For the first time in 38 days, Kentucky basketball is back in the win column.
The Wildcats won 78-73 in double overtime on Saturday against Mississippi State, snapping a six-game losing streak that will go down as the longest of John Calipari’s college basketball career. The win improves Kentucky’s record to 2-6, which remains the program’s worst start since the 1926-27 season.
To get the win, Kentucky didn’t ride its top-ranked 2020 recruiting class or any other five-star player waiting in the wings. Instead, the Wildcats watched Dontaie Allen, a Kentucky native and mere four-star (gasp) from last year’s class, deliver the game of his life.
Dontaie Allen shoots Kentucky to much-needed win
Entering Saturday, Allen had appeared in four games for the Wildcats after taking a redshirt season for the Wildcats last year. In those four games, he appeared in a total of 19 minutes with seven career points.
To put it lightly, Allen wasn’t part of the plan at Kentucky, even as it flailed through its worst start in decades. And then he went out and did this:
After scoring seven points total so far this season, Kentucky native Dontaie Allen came off the bench and hit seven 3-pointers to lead UK to a 78-73 win over Mississippi State‼️ pic.twitter.com/fnrFLGO03q
— B/R Hoops (@brhoops) January 3, 2021
Against Mississippi State, Allen posted 23 points and 5 rebounds in 32 minutes, shooting 8-of-13 from the field (7-of-11 from deep). Eight of those came at a crucial junction in overtime: a 3-pointer with a minute remaining in the first overtime and then back-to-back baskets to give Kentucky a 76-70 lead early in the second overtime.
For a blue chip recruit who chose to attend his local college basketball powerhouse with absolutely no guarantee of playing time down the road, that has to feel good.
Dontaie Allen on living out KY kids' dreams:
“It feels crazy. To all the kids, if there’s kids listening, it comes down to work. If you put in the work, you can do some great things.”
— Kyle Tucker (@KyleTucker_ATH) January 3, 2021
Allen’s minutes came at the expense of star freshman B.J. Boston, who came in at No. 6 in the latest 2021 NBA mock draft from Yahoo Sports’ Krysten Peek. Boston didn’t play at all in overtime after shooting 4-of-13 in regulation, underscoring the work Kentucky still has to do to right the ship.
You’d figure Allen’s eruption would mean more playing time down the line, though Calipari was unfortunately not on hand to see the performance. Calipari earned himself a double technical foul and ejection midway through the second half, with Kentucky down 52-46 at the time.
John Calipari just got ejected. He's mentioned before how he thinks him getting tossed last year vs. Arkansas empowered Kentucky. We'll see if this has any effect. pic.twitter.com/XXUnryuWIv
— Tyler Greever (@Tyler_Greever) January 3, 2021
Calipari admitted after the game he got the technical foul on purpose.
We’ll see if Kentucky needs such an eventful game to get their next win.
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