Saturday’s game between No. 6 Kentucky and No. 7 North Carolina more than lived up to the advanced billing, with the Wildcats winning 103-100 at the CBS Sports Classic in Las Vegas. The star was Kentucky freshman guard Malik Monk, who scored 47 points, and his three-pointer with just over 17 seconds remaining gave the Wildcats a 101-100 lead. A native of Lepanto, Arkansas, Monk arrived on campus as an integral part of the nation’s top recruiting class and with good reason.
Here’s what you need to know about Monk’s big night and his place in the Kentucky record books.
1. Monk Scored 27 Points in the First Half
While few watching the game had any idea of just how high Monk’s point total would get, it was clear quite early that North Carolina was going to struggle to defend him. Monk made his first shot and in 19 minutes of action Monk scored 27 points, shooting 10-for-16 from the field (4-for-8 from three) and 3-for-4 from the foul line. Monk added in two assists and one steal, with fellow freshman De’Aaron Fox being the only other double-digit scorer in the half. Fox, who was also a handful for North Carolina due to his ability to break down their defense off the dribble, finished the half with 11 points and seven assists with most of those “helpers” going to Monk.
2. Monk Didn’t Score in the Second Half Until Nearly Three Minutes In
After scoring his first points of the game a mere 11 seconds in, Monk needed a little more time to get going in the second half. Monk scored his first points of the second half on a layup with 17:22 remaining in the game, with his layup giving Kentucky a 63-55 lead. Monk would go more than four minutes before making his next field goal of the second half, a three-pointer that extended the Wildcat lead to 74-67 with 13:02 remaining. Monk would go on to score 15 of Kentucky’s final 29 points, the final three coming on his game-winning basket with 22 seconds remaining. Monk finished the game shooting 18-for-28 from the field (8-for-12 3 PT) and 3-for-5 from the foul line.
3. Monk Broke the School Record for Most Points in a Game by a Freshman with 11:13 Remaining
The Kentucky school record for the most points scored in a game by a freshman was 35, with Jamal Murray (February 6, 2016 against Florida) and Terrence Jones (January 11, 2011 against Auburn) sharing the top spot. Murray has three of the highest-scoring games by a freshman in Kentucky history, as he scored 33 points on two separate occasions last season. Monk surpassed Murray and Jones in the record books with 11:13 remaining on a layup that at the time gave Kentucky a 78-72 lead. That layup came in the middle of a stretch in which Monk scored ten consecutive points for the Wildcats, with a Bam Adebayo free throw with 8:22 remaining in the game.
4. Only Four Players in Kentucky History Have Scored More Points in a Game
Monk’s 47 points are tied for sixth on the school’s all-time list for most points in a single game. Jodie Meeks is the current record-holder, as he tallied 54 points in a game at Tennessee on January 3, 2009. Dan Issel, who younger basketball fans may know from his time as head coach of the Denver Nuggets during the mid-1990’s, is next on the list as he scored 53 points LSU Ole Miss on February 7, 1970 and 51 points two weeks later at LSU. Tied for third with 51 points in a game is Cliff Hagan, who posted his impressive point total against Temple on December 5, 1953. Rounding out the top five on the single-game scoring record list is Bob Burrows, who lit up LSU for 50 on January 14, 1956.
5. Monk is Tied for the Most Three-Pointers Made in a Game During the Calipari Era
Since John Calipari’s arrival in Lexington in 2009 plenty of talented players have suited up for Kentucky. Monk’s eight three-pointers against North Carolina are tied for the most made by a Kentucky player during Calipari’s tenure. Jamal Murray made eight in his aforementioned 35-point effort against Florida last season, and Eric Bledsoe made eight against East Tennessee State in the first round of the NCAA tournament on March 18, 2010. As for the school record for three-pointers made in a game, Jodie Meeks still holds that record as he made ten in his 54-point game at Tennessee in 2009.