INDIANAPOLIS – March Madness is made for players like Malik Monk, electric scorers who can catch fire and carry a team when everything is on the line. Even better news for second-seeded Kentucky as it begins the 2017 NCAA Tournament: Monk is due.
“For sure,” he said Thursday, wearing a wide grin. “My teammates know what I can do, know what I’m capable of, and if I get hot, they’ll just give me the ball. I’m happy my teammates will do that for me.”
The last four games, though, those teammates have taken up the slack while Monk muddled along in a mini-slump. Since following a 33-point game against Florida with a 27-point outburst against Vanderbilt at the end of February, Monk has made just 32.5 percent of his shots, including only 3 of 15 from 3-point range.
But in his mind, that merely means the next nuclear explosion is just around the corner. He’s yet to go more than four consecutive games without scoring more than 20 points – his current drought ties that mark – so look out. Monk is the first freshman in UK history to score 30-plus four times and he’s the second-leading scorer nationally among freshmen at 20.4 per game.
Remember when he swished seven 3-pointers against Michigan State at Madison Square Garden in his third college game? Or when he dropped 47 points and the winning 3-pointer on North Carolina in Las Vegas? How about that time he poured in 31 of his 37 points after halftime, including the late jumper to force overtime, when starting point guard De’Aaron Fox sat out against Georgia?
It’s easy to imagine Monk becoming a darling of the 2017 NCAA Tournament, but he swears he isn’t itching to deliver another game for the ages.
“If you itch, I think you fall down,” Monk said. “I’ll let the game come to me. If I get on a streak, they’ll give me the ball.”