Beware of the Monk

It’s safe to say that Malik Monk is set to have a big game soon. After being one of the hottest shooters to ever play for Kentucky, things have seemed to cool down for the freshman at just the wrong time.

Monk hasn’t hit more than two three-point shots in a game since February 25 against the Florida Gators. In fact, he’s went 5-21 in the last six games since then. This could be a concerning trend for the Wildcats if they want to make a big run in the 2017 NCAA Tournament, even if it seems they’ve learned to win without Monk going off.

Monk scored 10 or more points in every game of the season until the last regular season game of the season in College Station against Texas A&M. That is 30 straight games with 10 or more points by the freshman.

In the 30-game 10+ point streak, 18 of them are games where he scored 20+ points and in four of those he scored 30+ points, including the 47 points against UNC and a 37 point performance against Georgia. Pretty staggering statistics coming from a freshman.

The game against Texas A&M where we saw the 10+ point streak come to an end, Monk really struggled. Nothing was falling for him, ending the game with only six points, shooting 2-10 from the field, 0-4 from three-point land and 2-2 from the line. That was the beginning of a slump he has yet to fully shake out of.

Following the Texas A&M game, the Wildcats faced Georgia (for the third time this season) in their first game of the SEC Tournament and it’s likely a performance Monk would like to forget. Monk went 1-7 from the field, 0-1 from three-point land and 0-2 from the free throw line. Awful shooting for the talented freshman, especially against a team where he scored 16 and 37 in their prior meetings this season.

After his struggle-filled performance against Georgia, Monk has seemed to find his shot a little bit, picking up 20 points against Alabama, 17 points against Arkansas in the SEC Championship game and 12 points against Northern Kentucky in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. While it looks like he’s shaking out of the slump, Monk is still not getting the big numbers he was getting throughout the beginning, middle and even towards the end of the entire season.

You know what that means? It means Monk’s shots are about to start falling again and I pity the poor team that they’re playing when it happens.

The good thing is, since it wasn’t against Northern Kentucky, Monk’s second coming out party may be saved for a game where his team may need him. That could very well be the game against a strong, experienced Wichita State team on Sunday. Whenever it is, he’s going to have to find his shot and keep it around without getting over-confident.

As I said earlier, for a team that once lived and died by the shot of Malik Monk, they’ve learned how to win without Monk dropping 20 or 30 points. They’ve learned how to not fall apart when one person has an off night. That’s a very good sign for the Wildcats as they fight their way through the NCAA Tournament.

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