As Madison Square Garden hosted the Citi Hoops Classic, the two teams squared off in New York City. After a gritty 31-25 first half that favored the Wildcats, the second half was a back-and-forth affair that came down to the wire and into overtime.
As the dust settled, Myles Cale sank the Wildcats in a 84-83 overtime win.
Shots of the Year
As Powell’s three-pointer ripped the net with just over a second left in regulation, the hearts of Big Blue Nation sank. Kentucky had rode an outstanding defensive effort as a team and a stellar offensive performance by PJ Washington to what seemed like a convincing win.
However, Powell’s shot appeared to steal the moment and seal the win as the shot of the year in college basketball.
That was, until Kentucky’s Keldon Johnson caught the ball at mid-court and sank a prayer as time expired to tie the game and one-up Powell for the rights to overtime.
However, Miles Cale’s game-winning three had the last laugh to hand Kentucky their second loss of the season.
Jemarl Baker Sighting
It only took one and a third of his first two seasons at Kentucky, but Jemarl Baker finally saw the hardwood while wearing a University of Kentucky jersey on Saturday afternoon. While his return lasted only a minute, easing him back is expected as he’s coming off injuries that have caused multiple setbacks during his time in the Bluegrass.
If Baker can continue his return, his role shooting the basketball in Kentucky’s back court would be a much-needed feature.
Washington Shows Up
In PJ Washington’s first two games of the season, he scored just a combined 11 points. Over the next three, though, he scored a total of 63.
Washington had been in a similar slump to his start of the season, scoring 23 points over his previous three outings.
Oh my. PJ Washington left handed jump hook. pic.twitter.com/zmLZpQnfIh— Scott Charlton (@Scott_Charlton) December 8, 2018
On Saturday, though, Washington came out of the gate aggressive and looking to score the basketball. His physical presence, as well as his ability to knock down outside shots, led Kentucky with a double-double of 29 points & 12 rebounds.
PJ Washington taking over. pic.twitter.com/uI2JnbX74f— Scott Charlton (@Scott_Charlton) December 8, 2018
If he can begin to consistently string together quality performances, Washington could solidify his place as the team’s best player.
Hot damn. PJ Washington with the emphatic rejection and staredown. pic.twitter.com/y0L8GXLdB1— Scott Charlton (@Scott_Charlton) December 8, 2018
Johnson Displays Clutch-Gene
Though he struggled for most of the game, Keldon Johnson’s ability to hit late-game shots was on full display Saturday in Madison Square Garden. His half-court heave that sent the game to overtime was followed by what many expected to be the game-winning baseline jump shot.
Johnson added multiple rebounds late in the game, but his efforts came up short due to coaching and defensive miscues as a team.
Down the stretch, though, Kentucky may have found their guy when in need of a bucket.
Appreciate the Clamps
Ashton Hagans earned the start at point guard on Saturday in place of Immanuel Quickley and Quade Green. His best game of the year came in the second half last week against UNC Greensboro, locking down whoever he was assigned en route to Kentucky’s impressive win.
On Saturday, he did the same against Myles Powell and whoever he was on for a majority of the game. While Hagans won’t always stuff the stat sheet, his efforts on the court are unmatched. As Kentucky’s schedule begins to strengthen, they’ll rely on the young freshman even more to disrupt the opposition’s best players.
Kentucky returns to Lexington this week in preparation for the Utah Utes next Saturday afternoon.