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5 more thoughts and postgame notes from Kentucky’s win over Missouri

It was ugly, but a win is a win as the Cats now prepare for a rematch with Auburn.

NCAA Basketball: Kentucky at Missouri Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Fresh off taking down the No. 1 team in the country, the Kentucky Wildcats hit the road to face a Missouri team that has been struggling this season to say the least.

A lot of fans wondered if the Cats would come out sluggish after the excitement of Saturday, and for the first few minutes, they were a little off.

However, Tyler Herro and PJ Washington were ready to go from the start and they fueled the Cats to the early 10-5 lead.

Missouri would make a small run to take an 11-10 lead, but a Washington dunk gave the lead back to Kentucky and they never looked back.

A three by Washington with 6:32 remaining gave the Cats a double digit lead 27-17, and the Cats closed out the half strong.

Excellent defense for most of the half and a lob to Nick Richards for the dunk plus the foul to end the half allowed Kentucky to take a 41-23 lead into the break.

After halftime, it was evident that Missouri was going to try to play the finial 20 a little dirty and make it an ugly game.

Kentucky held a 48-31 lead at the first media timeout, but the big story came about halfway through the second half when Reid Travis went out with a sprained right knee after Keldon Johnson fell into him.

Travis never returned, and from that point on, we got to see why he is so important to this team defensively, as Kentucky made a lot of mistakes on that end of the floor, and with just under 3 minutes remaining, the lead way down to ten, 60-50.

It would get down to six, but Kentucky took care of business at the free throw line and the Cats go went to win it 66-58.

Thoughts on the game

PJ Washington had a quiet second half

In the first half, PJ was nearly unstoppable throughout as he had 15 points and was scoring in a number of ways.

But in the second half, he was held to just three points as he finished with 18 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists, and a block.

I will note that once Travis went down with an injury, it allowed the Tigers to double team him and make it nearly impossible for him to get anything going.

Still, a solid outing for PJ despite the quiet half.

Tyler Herro steps up on the road again

Herro has been the guy that steps up every time this team makes a road trip, and he did it again in Columbia.

Herro came out of the gate strong, and he finished with 18 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists, and a steal. He was also 8/8 from the free throw line and was big in closing this one out.

Against Tennessee, he didn’t shoot the ball very well, but he crashed the glass. In this one, he crashed the glass and his shots were falling which makes him a very scary sight for opponents.

Ashton Hagans had a big second half

After Hagans had such a great performance against Tennessee, he started this one slow and had a very poor first half on both ends.

Then to start the second half, he had a turnover causing Cal to take a timeout.

However, to Cal’s credit, he left Hagans in, and he responded by knocking down two threes on his way to finishing with 12 points.

It wasn’t his best performance, but it was good to see him step up when the team needed him to the most.

Kentucky struggled on the boards

Kentucky has been dominating teams on the glass this season, but that wasn’t the case in Columbia, as the Tigers won the battle of the glass 34-28. Far too often, the Cats got outworked on the boards and allowed Jeremiah Tilmon (5 offensive rebounds) to control the boards when he wasn’t in foul trouble.

Losing Travis for the final 10 minutes of the game was a huge factor in that, as he is a big part of Kentucky’s rebounding efforts. This can’t continue if Kentucky wants to finish the regular season strong and contend for a 1 seed.

EJ Montgomery and Nick Richard must step up

If Travis is in fact out for any period of time, it will fall onto the shoulders of Richards and Montgomery to step up and make big plays in his absence.

In this one, Richards gave the Cats some solid minutes as he had 7 points and 4 rebounds and EJ had 2 blocks. However, this team will need a lot more than that from then should Travis be out.

Those two really need to step up even if Travis is healthy. After all, they ended up playing a lot before the injury since Travis was in foul trouble for a lot of this game. Even if he’s healthy, foul trouble is going to limit him in some games, and Richards and/or Montgomery must answer the call.

The Cats will be back at home on Saturday when the Auburn Tigers come to Rupp. That game will tip-off at 1:30 pm on CBS.

Now, here are the postgame notes via UK:

Team Records and Series Notes

  • Kentucky improved to 22-4 overall and 11-2 in the Southeastern Conference.
  • With Tennessee’s win earlier in the night, UK remains a game out of first place in the SEC and a half game behind LSU. The Tigers host Florida on Wednesday.
  • Missouri falls to 12-13, 3-10 in the league.
  • Kentucky increased its series lead to 12-1 and 4-1 in Columbia, Mo.
  • Next up for UK: the Wildcats return home to host Auburn on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. That game will be televised by CBS.
  • Kentucky won the first meeting, 82-80, on Jan. 19 in Auburn.

In the First Half

  • Kentucky started Ashton Hagans, Tyler Herro, Keldon Johnson, PJ Washington and Reid Travis for the 19th time this season. UK is now 15-4 with that lineup.
  • After Mizzou opened the game with a 3, Kentucky followed with a 10-2 run going into the first media timeout.
  • Following a brief 11-10 Missouri lead, Kentucky quickly answered. A high-low alley-oop combination from Travis to Washington for a flush sparked a 9-0 Kentucky run. Herro scored the seven after that thanks to a flagrant foul that earned him two free throws and a layup in the same possession, followed by a 3 on the ensuing possession.
  • Herro scored his seven straight points in just 18 seconds of game time.
  • Up 22-17 with 7:24 left in the first half, UK outscored Missouri 19-6 heading into halftime for a 41-23 lead.
  • UK shot 50 percent in the first half and held Mizzou to 30.8 percent.
  • Washington, who was named the Oscar Robertson Trophy National Player of the Week by the U.S. Basketball Writers Association earlier in the day, kept his recent momentum rolling with 15 first-half points and five rebounds.
  • He made 6 of 10 shots in the first half, including two 3-pointers.
  • Nick Richards had one of his finest halves of the season with seven points in seven minutes in the first half.

In the Second Half

  • UK started the second half with Hagans, Herro, Johnson, Washington and Richards.
  • Hagans carried the Cats early in the second half with eight points in the first 5:26 of game time, including two 3-pointers.
  • Travis exited the game and did not return with a right knee sprain at the 10:24 mark.
  • UK did not make a field goal for the final 6:57 of the game.

Team Notes

  • It was UK’s seventh straight road victory, the program’s longest road winning streak since the 2014-15 season that saw the Wildcats win its first 38 games overall.
  • Kentucky is now 240-40 vs. Associated Press unranked competition under John Calipari.
  • UK held Missouri to 58 points and 37-percent shooting.
  • The Wildcats improved to 176-16 under Calipari when holding the opponent to less than 40-percent shooting, including 12-0 this season
  • Kentucky is 167-7 when limiting the opponent to 63 points or fewer under Calipari.
  • The Wildcats continue to put opponents away when they get up by double figures. UK moved to 255-5 all-time under Calipari when leading by at least 10 points in the contest. A remarkable 85.9 percent of Calipari’s 297 wins at Kentucky have featured a double-digit lead at some point in the contest.
  • Kentucky lost the rebounding 28-34.
  • UK is now 3-2 this season when losing the rebounding.
  • UK won points in the paint 22-20.
  • UK is 19-3 when prevailing in the paint.
  • The Wildcats have won 12 of their last 13 games. During that 13-game span, UK has …
  • Limited the opponents to 38.5 percent from the field.
  • Limited the opponents to 31.6 percent from 3-point range.
  • Limited the opponents to 60.7 points per game.

Player Notes

  • PJ Washington, this week’s reigning USBWA National Player of the Week, showed no signs of ending his conference tear with a game-high-tying 18 points and an outright game-high eight rebounds.
  • He came up two points shy of a 10th 20-point game of the season. He’s scored at least 15 in nine straight, but broke a streak of four-straight 20-plus performances.
  • He is averaging 20.7 points and 8.1 boards over the last nine games.
  • He has 11 straight games in double figures.
  • Tyler Herro continued to be a road warrior with 18 points and five rebounds. He’s averaging a team-high 16.1 points and 4.3 rebounds while shooting 52.3 percent and 43.2 from 3 in Kentucky’s eight road games.
  • The Wildcats are now 13-0 when he scores at least 15 points.
  • Nick Richards came off the bench to score seven points in 12 minutes, adding four rebounds.
  • UK is 10-0 this season when he scores at least four points.
  • Ashton Hagans scored 12 points, reaching double figures for the seventh time this year, but first since Jan. 26 vs. Kansas.

Calipari

  • Calipari is now 297-68 at UK, tying Joe B. Hall for the second-most victories by a UK head coach in program history. He trails only the great Adolph Rupp, who won 876 games at Kentucky.
  • It took the legendary Hall 397 games to get to 297. It took Calipari 365 games. Rupp did it two games faster than Calipari.
  • Calipari has a 742-208 all-time on-court record.
  • Calipari is now 9-3 vs. Missouri all-time.
  • He is just three wins shy of 300 victories at Kentucky.