A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Keith Taylor: Drawing from his favorite verse, Monk gives inspiring performance in win over Georgia

Malik Monk never stops believing. Even when things aren’t going well, Monk refers to his favorite Bible scripture found in Mark 9:23 for inspiration: “Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth,” King James Version.

“I look at my wrist band and see (that scripture) every day,” he said. “I don’t take it off unless I am playing. I don’t have any other favorite scriptures, this is my favorite one.”

For the third time this season Malik Monk eclipsed the 30-point plateau, scoring 37 in a 90-81 win over Georgia Tuesday night (Tammie Brown Photo)

Monk and the eighth-ranked Wildcats needed every ounce of divine intervention in an exciting 90-81 triumph over Georgia Tuesday night and it was Monk paved the way with an inspiring performance.

“I wake up every day and thank God every day for being here,” Monk said. “Anything can happen. If you believe (anything can happen) and we believed today.”

As a helpful reminder of his favorite Bible verse, Monk wears a silicone wrist band he received from a trainer at the barber shop in Arkansas when he was in the 10th grade on a daily basis. He was sporting it after he poured in 37 points to help Kentucky fend off the pesky Bulldogs.

BOXSCORE LINK: Kentucky 90, Georgia 81

In a contest that required a leap of faith, Kentucky coach John Calipari scratched his head and wondered aloud how the Wildcats survived one adversity after another to beat the Bulldogs.

“I don’t know how we won, to be honest,” the Kentucky coach said.

For starters, the hot hand of Monk made things a lot easier for the Wildcats, who were without point guard De’Aaron Fox, who sat out because of an undisclosed illness. Calipari started a taller lineup with Wenyen Gabriel, Derek Willis and Isaac Humphries, but the starting five never gained traction and Calipari turned to his guards — mainly Isaiah Briscoe and Monk — to carry the team on their shoulders and lead the way to victory.

Read More at Keith's Blog

Read More at Keith’s Blog: Out of the Blue

Early on, the Wildcats were tested early and often as Georgia scored the first 12 points, but Monk wasn’t alarmed. Even when the Wildcats (18-4, 8-1 Southeastern Conference) fell behind by 14 points with 14:07 remaining in the first half, Monk kept the faith.

“Our energy was just low, I think that’s all it was,” Monk said. “We just had low energy. We just have to bring it out and I think that happened with like eight minutes left (in the first half). We started making a little run, cut into the lead and started executing.”

Monk scored just six points in the first half, but remained positive. Despite the slow start, Monk was on target in the final half and scored 31 points. It was his jumper from the left corner with 8.7 seconds remaining in regulation tied the score at 76-76 and sent the game into overtime.

“Everybody was calm,” Monk said. “We knew if I could get the shot I knew I was going to make it, so that’s what happened. We just calmly called the play out.”

From that point on, it was all Monk and the Wildcats. Monk, who made seven of Kentucky’s 11 shots from long range, scored eight of Kentucky’s 14 points in the extra period, a string of points that included a pair of clutch 3-pointers. Monk also made 10 free throws on 12 attempts, a career high for the freshman sharpshooter.

“It got pretty hot (in the second half),” Monk said. “(My) teammates set me up well. I was just able to knock down the shots.

Georgia coach Mark Fox offered nothing but praise for Monk and credited the Kentucky guard for his ability to make heavily contested shots against his team’s defense.

“You have to give him credit,” the Georgia coach said. “He made some guarded shots and he obviously was the big difference in the game. Give him credit because that was an outstanding performance by him. He just got rolling. So we tried some different things. You have to give a great player credit. I’m not faulting our team. Our team competed hard. Their kids made more plays tonight then we did and they made enough to win.”

Coming off two straight losses, including a 79-73 setback to third-ranked Kansas last week, Monk said the Wildcats were determined to avoid a third consecutive loss for the first time in Calipari’s tenure as coach of the Wildcats.

“We had laser focus from the beginning,” Monk said. “We knew if we slipped up at any time we were going to lose. I think it was just our laser focus.”

And it was Monk who was on target and rarely missed the mark when the Wildcats needed him the most.

Gametracker: Kentucky at Florida, Saturday, 8:15 p.m. TV/Radio: ESPN, 98.1 WBUL.

Keith Taylor is a senior sports writer for KyForward, where he primarily covers University of Kentucky sports. Reach him at keith.taylor@kyforward.com or @keithtaylor21 on Twitter

Related Posts

Leave a Comment