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DJ Wagner finding his groove as SEC play heats up

Wagner’s emergence is a big reason why Kentucky has won six straight.

DJ Wagner Dylan Ballard - A Sea Of Blue

On November 15th, the Kentucky Wildcats tipped off for another Champions Classic game against the Kansas Jayhawks. It was the ‘scrappy underdogs’ from Kentucky going up against then-No. 1 ranked Kansas.

Kentucky fell just short after leading by as many as 14 in the second half, but it took a monstrous performance from Jayhawks’ big man Hunter Dickinson and a complete basketball anomaly from Dajuan Harris scoring 23 points and hitting five 3s (he hasn’t sniffed either of those two stats since).

On the flip side, Kentucky’s stars showed out — Antonio Reeves had 24 points, however the shooting percentage left a lot to be desired. Rob Dillingham introduced himself to college basketball with 18 points on 4/5 shooting from downtown, and Reed Sheppard proved himself to the Kentucky fanbase with 13 points, four steals, and pestering Kansas on the defensive end all night long.

However, there were two high-profile freshmen who seemed to be AWOL during the Wildcats’ loss to Kansas — Justin Edwards and DJ Wagner. Edwards didn’t make a field goal, hitting just one free throw for his lone point of the game.

Wagner, on the other hand, shot an abysmal 1/12 from the field, hitting one single layup and two free throws on, at the time, the biggest stage Kentucky had played on. A complete no-show. It felt like there was a lid on the rim for Wagner that night.

Since that game? DJ Wagner has been on another level. Averaging 13.3 points per game to go along with 3.7 assists and shooting splits of 49% (total), 38% (3pt), and 79% (free throw).

Against North Carolina, Wagner put up 14 points, six rebounds and five assists.

Against Florida on the road? 14 points, three rebounds and three assists.

Missouri in the home-opening conference game? 16 points and three assists.

In his last five games, Wagner is also shooting 46% from three — something he was knocked for early in the season.

Wagner has been a steady constant for Kentucky’s backcourt since the Kansas game — that feels like a lifetime ago, and this Kentucky team feels so much different than they did back in November.

The backcourt can any number of guys go off on a single night, but when DJ Wagner gets going, there’s not a guard in the country who can hang with him. DAWG.

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