BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – After averaging 20 points and 15 rebounds a game in a 2-0 week for the Kentucky Wildcats, Bam Adebayo (pictured) was named the Southeastern Conference’s Freshman of the Week for the first time this season. Adebayo was simply sensational in UK’s two victories, which included a little bit of history for Kentucky’s big man.
He posted a 22-point, 15-rebound effort as he nearly single-handedly willed the Cats to a 72-62 win on the road at Missouri on Tuesday. It was a career day on the boards for the Little Washington, N.C. native, who also topped 20 points for the third time in his career. It was the first 20-15 game for any Wildcat since Julius Randle turned the trick on Nov. 8, 2013. Adebayo was steady throughout the game, including knocking down a career-high 10 free throws.
Adebayo then followed that performance with 18 points and another 15 rebounds in a win over No. 13/12 Florida on Saturday. The game gave UK a one-game edge with two to play in the league standings for the regular-season crown. He teamed up with fellow freshman Malik Monk to score 42 of UK’s 48 second-half points. With his team-leading fifth double-double, he became the first Wildcat to notch consecutive double-doubles since Tyler Ulis last March – and the first forward to do so since Alex Poythress in November of 2015.
With back-to-back games of 15 rebounds, he made significant history for UK. He is the first Wildcat to haul in consecutive games of 15 or more rebounds since Jared Prickett on Feb. 6 and Feb. 9, 1994. He’s the first Wildcat since Sam Bowie on March 1 and March 3, 1984 to post 15 or more rebounds against consecutive SEC foes.
Adebayo’s presence on the glass has been incredible for the Cats as of late. He has pulled down at least seven rebounds in each of his last seven games and is averaging 12.5 boards over his last four. UK is averaging a plus-11.5 rebounding margin in its current six-game winning streak, with Adebayo being the central figure in that turnaround.
For the week, Adebayo paced UK in rebounding and blocked shots. He was second on the team in scoring (by four points). Adebayo connected on 65.0 percent of his shots, which was tops on the teams. He was also terrific at the charity stripe with a 77.8 percent clip.
Kentucky has won the SEC Freshman of the Week a league-leading seven times this season. Adebayo’s honor is the first of his career and the 10th weekly award of the season for the Wildcats, most in the conference.
The Wildcats will play their final game in Rupp Arena for the 2016-17 season with a 9 p.m. tip on Tuesday as UK welcomes Vanderbilt. The game will air live on ESPN.
Photo by Jamie H. Vaught