Noel, Wiltjer earn SEC honors

A knee injury ended Nerlens Noel's season at Kentucky prematurely, but it didn't stop the freshman center from grabbing a pair of Southeastern Conference honors on Tuesday.

A knee injury ended Nerlens Noel's season at Kentucky prematurely, but it didn't stop the freshman center from grabbing a handful of Southeastern Conference honors on Tuesday.

Noel was named first-team All-SEC, the league's Freshman of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year after averaging 10.5 points, 9.5 rebounds and 4.4 blocked shots in 24 games for the Wildcats. He blocked 106 shots and recorded 50 steals.

Kentucky sophomore forward Kyle Wiltjer was tabbed as the SEC Sixth Man of the Year, averaging 10.5 points and 4.3 rebounds off the bench.

Noel was joined on the All-Freshman team by UK teammates Willie Cauley-Stein, Archie Goodwin and Alex Poythress.

The Everett, Mass., native is the fifth Wildcat to earn SEC Freshman of the Year honors and the fourth consecutive honoree, joining Anthony Davis (2012), Terrence Jones (2011), DeMarcus Cousins (2010) and Patrick Patterson (2008). His honor as the Defensive Player of the Year is the third such accolade in school history. Davis (2012) and Chucky Hayes (2005) preceded him in winning the award.

Cauley-Stein averaged 8.4 points and 6.1 rebounds per game in his freshman campaign. He also added 58 blocks and 23 steals, while shooting at a team-high .631 clip from the field. Cauley-Stein has registered four double-doubles on the season.

Goodwin topped the team in scoring with an average of 14.1 points per outing. He logged 23 double-figure scoring games, and became just the ninth freshman in school history to sink 100 or more free throws in his first season.

Poythress ranked second on the squad in points per game (11.6) and rebounds per game (6.2). He became the first player since Jodie Meeks in 2008-09 to score 20 or more points in four consecutive games this season. He chipped in with 16 total double-figure scoring outings this year.

Kentucky opens play in the SEC Tournament on Friday at 7:30 p.m. ET. UK will face the winner of the Arkansas/Vanderbilt game.


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