The Kentucky Wildcats are 1-0 in their Bahamas trip after defeating the Bahamas National Team.
A fast start saw the Cats jump out to a 13-0 lead, but the Bahamas team battled back and kept it within 1-2 possessions much of the first half before the Cats took a 42-35 lead into halftime.
But the Cats came out flat and allowed the Bahamas to go on a 7-0 run out of the break and eventually take the lead. From there, both teams battled back and forth until the Cats took command in the final 10 minutes and came away with a comfortable 85-61 win.
Here is what you need to know from Kentucky’s first exhibition game of 2018:
Travis left out of starting five
There was a lot of intrigue about what starting lineup we’d see tonight. Would Washington and Travis be on the floor together? Would we see a small-ball lineup with Washington at the five? Nope and nope. Instead we got a lineup without Travis in it at all.
That was a shock. But the starting lineup looked good. Keldon Johnson showed his athleticism and knocked down the opening jumper, and Quade Green and Immanuel Quickley were both able to do something we didn’t see much of from Kentucky last year: make 3-pointers.
Immanuel Quickley hits the first 3 pointer of the game. pic.twitter.com/9pf8Fw6Wig— Scott Charlton (@Scott_Charlton) August 8, 2018
Travis actually ended up having a woeful game offensively, going scoreless in the first half and finishing in single digits. He even missed a wide-open dunk in the second half, so perhaps he’s still a work in progress as far as getting him settled into his new team.
The sophomores in the starting lineup were excellent, especially Nick Richards and Washington in the opening minutes. Both look to be in better shape, and played like it. Richards showed some unexpected versatility, finishing with a jam on the break and hitting a pull-up baseline jumper.
PJ Washington leads the break and finds Nick Richards for the slam. pic.twitter.com/dtr8Ml2D8C— Scott Charlton (@Scott_Charlton) August 8, 2018
No look from PJ Washington leads to the nice baseline jumper by Nick Richards. pic.twitter.com/itjsET9R7V— Scott Charlton (@Scott_Charlton) August 8, 2018
Both times, the assist came from Washington, who was running the floor well and even drew a Draymond Green comparison.
Richards led the team with 14 points at halftime.
Tyler Herro’s jumper is beautiful
Herro was second on the team in points at the half with 12, and it was easy to see why. He has supreme confidence in his jumper, and can pull up in transition and knock down contested shots without hesitation.
He came in as a highly-touted 3-point shooter, but his shot looked best from mid range.
Tyler Herro stepback midrange jumper. pic.twitter.com/UyXbRAoSo3— Scott Charlton (@Scott_Charlton) August 8, 2018
That’s a great example of how smooth his shot is, as he spins, steps back and releases the ball without missing a beat.
He came off the give-and-go screen again on the inbound and hit another smooth jumper.
Tyler Herro hits another out of bounds handoff midrange jumper. pic.twitter.com/tr87UyiY4D— Scott Charlton (@Scott_Charlton) August 8, 2018
Herro also threw down a dunk in transition. He has a bouncability that not a lot of people recognize.
Ashton Hagans steal leads to the Tyler Herro slam. pic.twitter.com/7OQKfUNXk9— Scott Charlton (@Scott_Charlton) August 8, 2018
He showed his hops again toward the end of the game with another transition jam.
Tyler Herro with the punch! pic.twitter.com/q4sYKK3h6R— Scott Charlton (@Scott_Charlton) August 9, 2018
Ashton Hagans is relentless
Hagans had no quit this evening. He was ready to defend as soon as his man crossed half court, and he was able to get some steals because of that. He also showed off an impressive spin move in transition.
Ashton Hagans with the pilfer and spin move finish. pic.twitter.com/7o5j10NqOv— Scott Charlton (@Scott_Charlton) August 8, 2018
He also jumps out of the gym when he’s trying to grab a rebound. He’s 6-3, but he can out-jump bigs down low. He’s a major pest for opponents and could end up being Kentucky’s best defender.
Hagans still has some work to do with his offense and actually running the offense, but at worst, he’s going to be a bulldog defender off the bench that can stifle any guard.
Now, let’s discuss the Cats’ first exhibition game!