By Dr. John Huang
In the storied history of Kentucky Basketball, several first-year players have had early-season breakout success.
Those of you in my generation undoubtedly remember Dwight “the blur” Anderson and his 17 points and monstrous dunk against Notre Dame in 1978. Not only did Kentucky beat the Irish 81-76, but Anderson’s performance prompted Al McGuire to tell the basketball world that night that “a star is born.”
Likewise in 1992, Dick Vitale slobbered all over himself regarding freshman Roderick Rhodes’ breakout performance against St. Johns at Madison Square Garden. Rhodes poured in 23 points as Kentucky rolled over the Red Storm 86-77.
Tonight–or this morning actually since the game didn’t end until well after midnight–Tyrese Maxey joins the club. Kentucky upsets #1 Michigan State 69-62, and another star is born.
Maxey’s 26 points were the most scored by a UK freshman in a debut game in school history. The guy with the intoxicating smile was a perpetual motion machine, shooting 7 of 12 from the floor, 3 of 7 from three, and 9 of 10 from the charity stripe. He also had 5 rebounds. His three-point dagger from three feet behind the arc put Kentucky up 65-60, and essentially sealed the victory.
Afterwards, Maxey was all-smiles.
There’s really only one story line to this game. Tyrese Maxey–in his debut performance, against the top-ranked team in the nation, on the biggest basketball stage, in the world’s most famous arena–brings home the victory.
Let’s hope his star continues to shine. One game does not a career make. After all, we all know what happened to Anderson and Rhodes.