The Cats came ready to play. Hagans was a defensive menace and Reid Travis was absolutely dominant. Johnson was a monster per usual.
UK went into the half with a 40-31 lead over the Tar Heels and never looked back.
Herro seemed like a liability early on, but he turned it around after half. He finally got it going and he proved that he’s one of the team’s best passers. He wasn’t terrible on the defensive end, either.
Jemarl took Quade Green’s minutes. He didn’t do much in the stat sheet, but his presence forced the defense out of the paint. That opened things up for Travis and PJ Washington.
PJ Washington was all over the place. It seemed like he didn’t play the best game, especially early, but he did a little bit of everything. He was on triple-double watch as he scored, passed, and rebounded efficiently.
And the best part of the night was the defense. Against the nation’s third scoring offense, the Cats finally showed the potential we knew they had in them. They held the Tar Heels offense all night and it was fantastic to watch.
Hagans was the main reason for UK’s defensive efficiency. He stayed in the passing lanes all night and it turned into easy baskets and slowed the Tar Heels momentum. He was so, so close to getting the MVP tonight simply because of his defense. He’s the next great Calipari point guard and once he gets his offense going the way he did in high school, watch out.
Next up is the team down the road in Louisville.
Keldon Johnson was unstoppable tonight. He’s proven that he’s the best player on the team and that’s why he’ll be a top-10 draft pick. He has been on fire lately and it continued on the big stage.
Keldon has finally found his stroke from three and the way he drives the paint makes it impossible to guard him. He rebounds well and he’s Kentucky’s second best defender behind Hagans.
Calipari missed a true small forward for years after MIchael Kidd-Gilchrist. Kevin Knox was the first in awhile and Keldon is the next. He’s a special, special player that will go down in Kentucky basketball lore.
Tonight was a reminder of that Keldon is Kentucky’s best player. And he has to be to for UK to be a national title contender. Reid Travis is awesome, but the way he plays old-school basketball he can’t be the Cats best player. Keldon has taken the reins of this team and tonight was his coming out party on the NATIONAL stage.
He finished with 23 points, three rebounds, and three assists on 8/13 shooting from the field and 4-7 from deep.
What a win...Go Cats!