BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – In what has become a weekly trend for the Kentucky men’s basketball team, the Wildcats hauled in another Southeastern Conference Freshman of the Week honor. This week’s honoree is Keldon Johnson (pictured) for his efforts in two wins over Top 25 teams last week.
It’s the third honor of the season for Johnson and the league-leading seventh different honor of the year for UK. The Wildcats have had a freshman named its top performer in six of the last seven weeks. It’s also the second time this season UK has won the award three times in a row.
Kentucky has won more weekly SEC honors (96) than any other school during the Calipari era, including 78 SEC Freshman of the Week honors and 18 SEC Player of the Week awards.
Johnson averaged 12.0 points, 7.5 rebounds and 1.5 steals in wins over No. 22/22 Mississippi State and No. 9/10 Kansas. He shot a team-best 52.9 percent from the field, shooting better than 50.0 percent in both games.
He opened the week with nine points, five boards, a career-high-tying three steals and his second-career blocked shot against the Bulldogs.
The South Hill, Virginia, native sparked the Wildcats in the second half against the Jayhawks. After UK went 0 for 8 in the opening half from behind the arc and trailed by three at the break, Johnson drained all three of his attempts from long range in the second half en route to 15 points in the game.
He did a little bit of everything for the Wildcats, who have won four straight overall and three in consecutive games against top-25 ranked teams. Johnson also corralled 10 rebounds for his third career double-double and first since a 13-point, 11-rebound effort against UNC Greensboro on Dec. 1. When he hauled in his 10th board in the waning seconds of the game, he became the third different UK player to log a double-double in the game. It marked the first time three Kentucky players registered a double-double in the same game since Feb. 16, 2010, when DeMarcus Cousins, Patrick Patterson and John Wall had double-doubles against Mississippi State.
The 6-foot-6 guard leads the Wildcats in scoring for the season with a 14.6 points per game average. He’s also adding 5.3 rebounds and 1.5 assists per game. He’s scored in double figures in all but four games this season and is shooting 51.1 percent from the field and 40.6 percent from 3-point range.
Against Associated Press Top 25 teams this season, Johnson is averaging 17.6 points and 5.0 rebounds per game while shooting 56.4 percent from the field and 50 percent from 3-point range.
The Wildcats return to action Tuesday at 9 p.m. ET. UK will travel to take on Vanderbilt. ESPN will televise the Super Tuesday matchup.
Photo by Jamie H. Vaught