Clean Sweep: Associated Press Tabs Ulis as SEC Player of the Year

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Fresh off one of the most impressive individual performances in the rich tradition of Kentucky basketball – a pre-NCAA Tournament capstone on a consistently brilliant sophomore season – Tyler Ulis was named Southeastern Conference Player of the Year by the Associated Press on Monday.

He became the seventh player in program history to sweep the player of the year accolades from the AP and the Coaches’ selections. He joins Jamal Mashburn (1993), Tony Delk (1996), Ron Mercer (1997), Tayshaun Prince (2001), John Wall (2011) and Anthony Davis (2012) as the other Wildcats to achieve the feat. 

Ulis was selected to the AP’s All-SEC First Team alongside freshman sharpshooter Jamal Murray. Ulis was a unanimous first-team selection.

Ulis and Murray, arguably the best backcourt duo in the country, were recognized for their stellar regular seasons. Kentucky was the only team with two players on the five-man All-SEC First Team. The duo was joined by LSU’s Ben Simmons, Ole Miss’ Stefan Moody and Texas A&M’s Jalen Jones.
Kentucky’s dynamic backcourt led the country in scoring during league play among the major conferences (Power 5 plus the American and the Big East). Together, they combined for 40.8 points per game for UK, helping the Wildcats earn a share of their 47th regular-season SEC crown. 
Murray and Ulis are the 14th and 15th players under head coach John Calipari to claim SEC honors from the AP. 
Heading into the postseason, Ulis is averaging 17.2 points and an SEC-best 7.2 assists. He enters the NCAA Tournament ranked sixth nationally in assists and fifth nationally with a 3.8 assist-to-turnover ratio. He’s dished out 10 or more assists in six of his last 12 games and scored 20 or more points in 13 of his last 23 games.

He was one of just three players nationally to average at least 17.2 points and 7.2 assists or better (Kahil Felder, Oakland; Denzel Valentine, Michigan State) and the lone underclassman.

Ulis has the UK single-season school record for most 20-point, five-assist games with 14, and according to the SEC Network, his three 20-point, 10-assist games this season are the most of any SEC player in the last 20 seasons.

In league play, Ulis averaged 8.4 assists with a 4.5 assist-to-turnover ratio. 
He played 672 of a possible 725 minutes in SEC games, committing a turnover every 19.8 minutes per game. 

Ulis’ value is probably best represented by his performances in Kentucky’s biggest games. He’s averaging a team-best 24.0 points and 8.3 assists in UK’s six games vs. ranked opponents in either the Associated Press Top 25 or the USA Today Coaches’ Poll. He shot 55.2 percent with a 5.0 assist-to-turnover ratio in those games. Those numbers are even more impressive when considering he played 252 of the possible 255 minutes of those games including the entire 45 minutes of all three overtime contests.

Murray has been one of the nation’s best scorers all season long and led the league with five SEC Weekly honors. He currently leads the Wildcats in scoring at 20.1 points per game, which, if the season ended today, would be the highest individual scoring average at Kentucky in the Calipari era. 
With 685 points this season, he already owns the school’s freshman single-season scoring record surpassing Knight (657 points in 2010-11). He’s posted three 30-point games this season two of which came against league competition. The three 30-point games are the most by a freshman in school history, and his 35 points vs. Florida tied Terrence Jones (Jan. 11, 2011 vs. Auburn) for the school record single-game scoring mark by a freshman. It also tied Jones for the most points in a single game in the Calipari era.
Murray is the first Wildcat to reach double figures in 32 straight games since Jodie Meeks did it 32 times in 2008-09. He racked up a 12-game streak of scoring 20 points or more matching the longest such streak for any UK player since Kevin Grevey topped 20 or more points in 12 straight games in 1974-75.
Having hit a 3-pointer in every game this season, Murray owns the UK freshman record for most 3-point field goals in a single season with 110, surpassing Knight’s previous record of 87. His 110 made 3-pointers are already second on the UK single-season 3-point field goal list and the most of any freshman in the history of the SEC. Entering the NCAA Tournament, he has a shot at breaking Stephen Curry’s NCAA freshman record for 3-point field goals in a season (122). 
Ulis, Murray and the Wildcats will play Stony Brook on Thursday at approximately 9:40 p.m. ET in the NCAA Tournament first round in Des Moines, Iowa. That game will be televised on CBS. 

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2016 AP All-SEC Team
First Team - (u-unanimous choice to first team)
u-Tyler Ulis, Kentucky, G, 5-9, So.
u-Ben Simmons, LSU, F, 6-10, Fr.
Stefan Moody, Mississippi, G, 5-10, Sr.
Jamal Murray, Kentucky, G, 6-4, Fr.
Jalen Jones, Texas A&M, G-F, 6-7, Sr.

Second Team
Retin Obasohan, Alabama, G, 6-2, Sr.
Michael Carrera, South Carolina, F, 6-5, Sr.
Damian Jones, Vanderbilt, C, 7-0, Sr.
Kevin Punter, Tennessee, G, 6-2, Sr.
Moses Kingsley, Arkansas, F, 6-10, Jr.

Third Team
Yante Maten, Georgia, F, 6-8, So.
J.J. Frazier, Georgia, G, 5-10, Jr.
Dorian Finney-Smith, Florida, F, 6-8, Sr.
Danuel House, Texas A&M, G, 6-7, Sr.
Alex Caruso, Texas A&M, G, 6-5, Sr.

Honorable Mention
Wade Baldwin IV, Vanderbilt, G, 6-3, So.; Armani Moore, Tennessee, F, 6-4, Sr.; Gavin Ware, Mississippi State, F, 6-9, Sr.

Player of the Year — Tyler Ulis, Kentucky
Coach of the Year — Billy Kennedy, Texas A&M
Freshman of the Year — Ben Simmons, LSU