The Kentucky Wildcats narrowly escaped Oxford with a win as they beat the Ole Miss Rebels Tuesday night, 80-76.
Kentucky got off to a bit of a slow start, but they recovered quickly. PJ Washington went out early in the first half with two fouls (again), but Keldon Johnson and Tyler Herro kept the Cats in it. Despite the Rebels’ hot shooting, UK went into the break down 39-38.
Ashton Hagans has really struggled for the better part of a month, including the first half of this game, but he finally came back to life after the break. Hagans attacked the basket and finally finished at the rim.
Immanuel Quickley won’t show up in the box score much, but he has continued to improve tremendously. I love the way he’s playing right now. While others have seemed to falter, he’s answered the call.
As mentioned above, PJ was nonexistent in the first half scoring a whopping zero points. But he more than made up for it in the second half. He showed off his dominance as no one could stop him. He even made a player fall flat on his butt with a nice juke move.
Jemarl Baker gave some very good minutes off the bench. He ran around and scored on his man one play, and played excellent defense.
Nick Richards and EJ Montgomery struggled big time. They’re still just not there yet.
All in all, the Cats took a punch in the mouth. An absolute haymaker from a solid tournament team, and they held on for the win on the road without one of their best players. You really can’t ask for anymore. It was important for Kentucky to escape this game with a W and they did just that.
Next up, the Cats will return to Lexington for Senior Day against the Florida Gators. This will definitely be the last home game for Jonny David and Reid Travis, and, presumably, PJ Washington, Keldon Johnson, and maybe even Tyler Herro and Ashton Hagans.
I’m going Co-MVPs here, because Keldon Johnson and Tyler Herro were both equally awesome.
Johnson was unstoppable in the paint. He had his way with the Ole Miss defenders when he was attacking the rim. He helped keep Kentucky in striking distance for PJ’s return in the second half.
Keldon finished with 22 points, seven rebounds, three assists, and one steal. He also shot 9-18 from the floor, including 1-2 from three.
Herro was on tonight and it was fun to watch. The road warrior returned in a big way. He also kept Kentucky in the game and made big shot after big shot.
He was able to drive the ball, pull up, and knock down some deep balls. He finished with 20 points, five rebounds, two assists, and three steals. He also shot 8-12 from the field and 2-4 from deep.
After miserable performances by both players in Knoxville, they stepped up in a big way. And it was much needed. They helped save the Cats tonight and their hope for a one seed in the NCAA Tournament. It was just a great all-around game by both guys.
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