KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – It’s a good thing for Kentucky basketball that no NCAA Tournament games are played on the road, because opposing gyms are apparently Malik Monk’s kryptonite. Tuesday night’s upset loss at Tennessee, in which he went 3 for 13 from 3-point range, was just the latest flop.
In the first five true road games of his college career, Monk is shooting just 27.8 percent from beyond the arc and averaging nearly three turnovers. In home and neutral-site games combined, he’s shooting 43.6 percent from three and averaging 1.8 turnovers.
So what gives? Maybe road rims are unkind, but it also seems like Monk, one of the most electric scorers in the country, presses more in hostile environments. Just as he did in an earlier loss to Louisville, when he went 1 for 9 from deep, the freshman guard came out gunning (and missing) against the Volunteers.
Monk and teammate Bam Adebayo both made seven field goals Tuesday night, but Monk needed 19 attempts to get his 25 points and Adebayo only needed eight shots to score 21. Now, are you ready for the good news, Cats fans?
For all his true road struggles, Monk doesn’t need to be at home play well. He averaged 28.3 points and 1.5 turnovers and hit 51.2 percent of his 3-point tries in UK’s four neutral-site games against Michigan State, Arizona State, Hofstra and North Carolina.
And where are NCAA Tournament games played again? Oh, that’s right, neutral sites. “Neutral,” of course, being a misnomer with Kentucky, because those are usually a lot closer to home games for the Cats. But for whatever reason, Monk is even better in that setting than at Rupp Arena – and much better than in true road games.
So yes, it’s odd and a little troublesome that Monk struggles so much in someone else’s building, but it might not matter in March.
THE MALIK MONK BREAKDOWN
Road games (5): 21.4 points, 10 of 36 threes (27.8%), 14 turnovers (2.8 per game)
Home games (11): 19.7 points, 29 of 74 threes (39.2%), 21 turnovers (1.9 per game)
Neutral-sites (4): 28.3 points, 22 of 43 threes (51.2%), 6 turnovers (1.5 per game)
Home/neutral (15): 22.2 points, 51 of 117 threes (43.6%), 27 turnovers (1.8 per game)