The game started out to a feverish pace with both teams trading buckets. PJ Washington scored back-to-back buckets, including a triple on a beautiful pass from Ashton Hagans, who drew his first start since the opener against Duke. The Cats led early 11-9.
The pace of the game slowed with UK going scoreless for a 4 minute stretch and the Pirates tied the game at 11 after Taurean Thompson knocked down a pair of free throws. The teams exchanged free throws over the next couple of minutes and both went ice cold midway from the floor. The Wildcats missed 15 straight shots and the Pirates missed 8 in 10-plus of basketball without a field goal.
Back-to-back buckets, a tough and-1 from Reid Travis and a three-pointer from Immanuel Quickely, put the Cats up 22-16 with a little over 5 minutes left in the first half. However, the offense came to a halt once again and Seton Hall was able to score some points.
With UK up by three with 1:17 left in the first half, Jemarl Baker made his long awaited Kentucky debut. Quickley knocked down another triple before halftime and the Wildcats took a 31-25 lead into the locker room. The Cats held the Pirates to 7-of-21 (33%) shooting in the first half and forced 10 turnovers.
Travis and Washington continued the defensive onslaught with a pair of blocks early in the second half. The Cats, led by Hagans, continued to make life hard for Seton Hall’s leading scorer Myles Powell. At the under-16 minutes timeout, Powell was 2-of-8 from the field and 2-of-6 from the charity stripe for only 6 points.
After a three-point make from Myles Cale reduced the Cats’ lead to 2, Coach Cal signaled for a timeout. After the timeout, a post turnaround by Michael Nzei tied the game at 39. A 9-0 run, capped off by a floater in the lane by Thompson gave the Pirates a 41-39 lead with just over 13 minutes left in the game.
Tyler Herro, who missed every three-pointer he took (0-for-6), tied the game at 43 on a fast break layup, but Quincy McKnight put the Pirates back in front going 2-of-2 from the free throw line. Ashton Hagans then took the ball to the basket and maintained space between he and the defender, which allowed him to finish the and-1.
Travis used his grown-man strength to muscle through the defense, finished the and-1 and tied the game again, this time at 49. After trading buckets, the score was knotted at 51 with 7:19 left in the second half.
Washington hit a hook shot in the lane, putting the Cats up by 2, but a three by Powell put the Pirates back on top. Herro’s layup gave the Cats a lead back and then a turnover by Seton Hall gave the ball back to the Cats with a one point lead. Then Mr. Mean Mug himself, PJ Washington, grabbed an offensive rebound, put it back, and got fouled. He made the foul shot and the Cats led 58-54.
Powell came back with another triple to close the gap, but PJ would not be denied. A jump hook put Kentucky back up by 3, but the Pirates closed the gap to one yet again. Then a floater in the lane followed by a break away layup by Hagans gave the Cats a 64-59 lead with 3:14 left.
Powell hit yet another three-pointer, but the Cats went to Washington again and again he delivered with a hook shot in the lane. Travis, who finished with 13 points and 6 rebounds, fouled out with 2:20 left in the game.
With Kentucky leading 66-64, John Calipari subbed in Nick Richards, who snatched back-to-back offensive rebounds. Richards hit 1-of-2 from the line and gave the Cats a three-point lead. Powell hit another three and tied the game at 67 with just over 1 minute left to play.
Washington missed a running jump shot with 41 seconds, but as both UK and Seton Hall were battling for the rebound, PJ caught an elbow to the throat. Herro missed a three-pointer and Seton Hall claimed the board.
With 1.5 seconds to go, Myles Powell hit an unbelievable step-back three-pointer with Quickley in his face. Not to be outdone, Keldon Johnson received the ball at midcourt and drained a game-tying three as time expired.
In overtime, Seton Hall put back-to-back buckets through the hoop to take a 74-70 lead. Washington knocked down two free throws to close the gap. A reverse layup by McKnight put the Pirates back up by 4.
Johnson muscled up a layup to close the gap once again, but Thompson converted a step-through in the paint to lay the ball off the glass and in. Washington went to the line on the ensuing possession and knocked down both free throws. Seton Hall led 78-76.
PJ got the ball inside and was fouled one more time and put through 1-of-2 of the line. Powell hit another three, but Hagans came right back with a layup. Seton Hall held a, 81-79 lead. The Pirates missed a layup and on UK’s next possession, Hagans dished the ball to Johnson on the wing for a three. Money! The Cats grabbed an 82-81 lead with 38.9 seconds left.
Seton Hall got the ball to Powell once again, but Hagans locked Powell up, forcing him to dish the ball off to a teammate who missed a three. Hagans was fouled and put through on 1-of-2 to give the Cats a 2-point cushion. It wasn’t enough.
Myles Cale hit the game-winning three with just under 10 seconds, as all UK could muster in the closing moments was an off-balanced attempt by Johnson. Kentucky lost their second game of the season 84-83.
Is there any doubt that PJ Washington is taking home today’s MVP. The big fella led all scorers with a career-high 29 points. He also snagged 13 rebounds and was 12-of-13 from the free throw line.
PJ not only did work on the offensive end, but he was a beast defensively, recording 3 blocks and making life miserable in the paint for Seton Hall. The Pirates’ front court scored only 25 of their 84 points.
We can’t forget about Keldon Johnson either. The UK freshman hit the game-tying shot to send the game into overtime. He finished with 12 points and 5 rebounds. However, both of his clutch shots were not enough.
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