After a troubling weekend on the road, the Kentucky Wildcats traveled to Oxford to avenge their loss with a matchup against the Ole Miss Rebels.
After Kentucky found themselves trailing by one at halftime, the Wildcats used a strong-shooting second half to rally back and claim an 80-76 victory over Ole Miss.
Kentucky Narrowly Rebounds
Saturday’s loss to Tennessee was unbearable to watch. There wasn’t a single Wildcat who played up to their potential, with Nick Richards coming closest in an average performance.
On Tuesday night in Oxford, Kentucky looked to be in trouble again as they once again faced issues early on the road. However, the Wildcats were able to weather the storm and show they have a stouter backbone than most gave them credit for this week.
In addition, this was a Quadrant I win without the services of Reid Travis, who is a vital part of this team. Say what you will about Kentucky’s recent struggles, but they’ve now managed to score two Quad I wins without him (Auburn and at Ole Miss). That says a lot about how good the rest of the roster is.
Heading into the postseason, Kentucky will need 100% of their roster leaving it all on the court for 40 minutes each game.
Early Fouls Strike Again for Washington
Like last Saturday, PJ Washington once again picked up two early fouls in less than ten minutes of action. The sophomore forward finished the first half scoreless with just one shot attempt and managed to play only seven minutes.
Fortunately, the rest of Kentucky’s cast was able to pick up the offensive slack and keep their team afloat. It also helped that EJ Montgomery stepped up big time. He only scored two points but chipped in six boards and four blocks, one of which came in the final minutes to seal the win.
Though Washington was far more efficient in the second half, finishing the game with 13 points and four assists, he’ll certainly need to be more disciplined in postseason play where it’s “win or go home.”
Freshman Wings Bounce Back
After Washington took to the bench with two fouls, freshman wings Keldon Johnson and Tyler Herro jumped at their opportunity to carry their team. Unlike last Saturday, when the duo folded in a hostile environment, both freshman talents sounded off in a sensational way.
Herro finished the game with 20 points and Johnson finished with 22, as both turned in one of their more impressive performances this season. Kentucky isn’t going to make a deep run in the NCAA Tournament without Johnson living up to his potential, and tonight, he showed he’s still capable of doing so.
Big Blue Nation couldn’t have asked for much more of their two wings heading into the end of their regular season.
Hagans’ Inconsistencies Continue
Ashton Hagans simply can’t get going for the Wildcats. The freshman point guard burst onto the scene after the transfer of Quade Green, but has fallen off a cliff over the course of the last month.
Hagans finished Tuesday’s first half splitting minutes with backup point guard Immanuel Quickley, scoring just two points and handing out one assist.
Though Hagans did finish with 10 points and two dimes, head coach John Calipari should at least consider lending Quickley more time running the show. If nothing else, Hagans’ struggles have helped Quickley gain more confidence as he may become an x-factor when the Big Dance rolls around.
Kentucky will return to Lexington for their regular season finale this Saturday against the Florida Gators.
Now, let’s talk about the war that just took place in Oxford.