Monk scores 47 to lead No. 6 Kentucky past No. 7 North Carolina

The Wildcats freshman is having a huge

Stephen R. Sylvanie—USA Today Sports
Dec 17

LAS VEGAS – Kentucky freshman guard Malik Monk hesitated before making the go-ahead 3-pointer with 22 seconds left in the 103-100 victory for the sixth-ranked Wildcats over No. 7 North Carolina on Saturday.He said he heard his coach, John Calipari, yelling amid the noise of the 19,298 at T-Mobile Arena for him to drive it with Kentucky (10-1) trailing 100-98.”Cal told me to drive, but I was hot so I shot it,” said Monk, who finished with a career-high 47 points, tied for the sixth most in Kentucky history.Calipari laughed about Monk’s decision to override what he instructed after the game, “because I can, now,” he said.”The guys never disobey me,” Calipari said with a smirk. “When he made it, I told him, ‘Great shot, kid, let’s keep playing.'”After Monk’s basket, North Carolina forward Isaiah Hicks missed a layup and the Tar Heels (10-2) fouled another standout Kentucky freshman, point guard De’Andre Fox.Fox, who finished with 24 points and 10 assists, made both free throws to put Wildcats ahead 103-100 with three seconds remaining.North Carolina inbounded the ball and called timeout with two seconds left at midcourt to set up the last shot. The cross-court pass was knocked out of bounds by Fox. After a review by the referees, 0.7 of a second was put on the clock.A 3-point attempt by guard Kenny Williams at the buzzer missed with the ball stuck between the rim and backboard.”I don’t like the outcome, but it was one heck of a basketball game,” said North Carolina coach Roy Williams, who has never coached against a player who scored as many points as Monk in his 29-year coaching career.”We looked like we were out of it a few times,” Williams said, “but we kept coming back. Unfortunately, they don’t give you points for coming back. You have to win the game. It looked like we could, but that kid (Monk) made a big-time shot.”North Carolina forward Justin Jackson, who also set a career high with 34 points, made a layup with 47 seconds left to put the Tar Heels ahead 100-98. His 3-pointer with 1:37 left gave North Carolina a 98-95 advantage, its first lead since 15:46 remaining in the first half.Kentucky built a lead as big as 12 points with 7:39 left in the first half, but the Wildcats mostly had a single-digit lead in a game that had answering runs by both teams.A 3-pointer by North Carolina guard Joel Berry II, who had 23 points and seven assists, and a layup after a steal by Jackson cut Kentucky’s lead to 74-72 with 12:04 left in regulation.Kentucky responded with a 10-2 run — seven points scored by Monk in transition — to build the lead to 84-74 with 7:45 remaining. North Carolina forward Luke Maye answered with two 3-pointers to cut the lead to 84-80.Kentucky’s 103 points is the most North Carolina has allowed since a 93-81 loss at Duke in March 2014. The last time the Tar Heels allowed more than 100 points was in a 103-90 loss to Texas in December 2009.”It was like a pickup game for me,” said Monk, who made 18 of 28 shots from the field, including 8 of 12 from 3-point range. “My teammates were hitting me and finding me. It was fun out there.”Berry said North Carolina never made Monk feel uncomfortable, which led to the Tar Heels’ demise.”At one point, he had almost half of their points,” Berry said. “We have to make sure somebody like that is uncomfortable and doesn’t get so hot so early.”NOTES: Entering the game, Kentucky led the nation with 71.3 field goal attempts per game. North Carolina ranked 15th at 64.7 shots per game. Kentucky took 74 shots, making 40 (54.1 percent). North Carolina took 66 shots and made 35, good for 53 percent. … North Carolina had the nation’s best rebounding margin per game at 14.8. Kentucky outrebounded the Tar Heels 39-35. North Carolina C Tony Bradley, who entered the game leading the nation in offensive-rebounding percentage, finished with four rebounds, two on the offensive end. … North Carolina G Joel Berry II, who missed the previous two games with an ankle sprain, returned to the starting lineup against Kentucky. … Kentucky G Malik Monk’s 30 3-point field goals are ahead of Jodie Meeks’ season record-setting pace through the first 10 games of the 2008-09 season. Meeks finished with 117 that season.