Kentucky’s winning ways are finally back in full swing after the last two weeks of very impressive play. After a convincing 20-point win over Georgia, the Wildcats had two very tough games in a row, starting with an away game at #14 Auburn. The Cats played extremely well, and if it wasn’t for Bryce Brown channeling his inner Steph Curry, it could’ve very easily been a 20+ point victory for BBN. There was no time to celebrate as #22 Mississippi State was set to come to Rupp. The Wildcats handed them a 21-point loss when it was all said and done.
Mr. Hagans is hands down the best defender in college basketball. Ashton is averaging 2.3 steals per game, but his defense goes much deeper than that. Hagans is constantly batting passes away and disrupting the flow of the offense for the opposition. He usually applies full court pressure to everyone, and if not, he applies it even worse in the half-court. Hagans makes it almost impossible for a team to run their sets properly. On top of this, he’s breaking defensive records at Kentucky just 18 games into his career. On top of all of this, the Freshman is a good Point Guard on the offensive end too. The only problem with his game thus far is his struggling jump shot. Other than that, Hagans is great. He can get to the rim very well, finish well, and dish the ball outstandingly. Hagans is also proficient from the charity stripe.
Tyler Herro (Hero)
Tyler Herro is a walking bucket. Many experts said that Kentucky didn’t have a guy that could get a basket when they need it. Well, BBN’s Hero(pun intended) had something to say about that. Many pegged him as just a spot-up shooter, but lately, he has proved that is the least of what he is. Herro is exceptional from behind the arc, but also in the Mid-range. However, getting to the rim is one of his best abilities, and what makes him dangerous. Not only can he sink a three in your face, he can go around you too. Herro is averaging 13.7 points per game this year and is only shooting 35% from behind the arc due to some early season struggles. Lately, those numbers have only gone up and will continue to go up. Herro is also an excellent free throw shooter, as he shoots over 90% from the line. This kid is going to be hell for any team he plays in March.
Keldon Johnson, a projected top-10 pick in the draft this summer, is without a doubt Kentucky’s most talented player. The 6’6 Freshman is starting to really heat up after posting what he calls “his worst performance in any game ever” against Georgia. Johnson followed that game up with 20 points in a win against Auburn after Ashton Hagans told him to “Wake the **** up.” Johnson is averaging 14.6 points per game, shooting over 50% from the field, over 38% behind the arc, and over 73% from the line. A very dangerous overall skill set that has the potential to carry this Kentucky team to the Final Four.
Another player looking to go in the first round of the NBA draft this summer, PJ Washington. After having an outstanding Freshman year, he made the surprising move to come back for his Sophomore year. He was placed on the preseason Wooden Award Watch List, but never really picked up where he left off last year. Washington finally woke up against Auburn, putting up 13 points and was very effective on the defensive end. The 6’8 Sophomore then put up a monstrous game against Mississippi State. He put up an efficient 21 points, blocked 4 shots, and ripped down 6 boards. Hopefully this is a sign that PJ can finally turn into the leader that the Wildcats were looking for and expecting in him.
A play-date with #9 Kansas in Lexington is up next for the Cats. Nothing will come easy in this game as the Jayhawks are a very good team who is coached very well by Bill Self. Some keys to win this game for Kentucky will come from the defensive side of the ball. Can Ashton Hagans slow down Lagerald Vick, who is averaging 15 points per game this year, and is the Jayhawks most threatening Guard on offense? If Hagans can keep Vick from lighting it up from behind the arc, that will give BBN a very good shot to win this game. Next key is stopping Dedric Lawson. The guy is an absolute monster, averaging 19.5 points per game and ripping down 10.9 rebounds per game. The Wildcats have the likes of PJ Washington, Reid Travis, EJ Montgomery, and Nick Richards to cause havoc for Lawson. If the dominating front court of Kentucky can stop Lawson, the Wildcats will send Kansas home with another L on their record.