The Kentucky Wildcats (12-3, 2-1 SEC) run of tough, desperate opponents will continue Tuesday evening in Rupp Arena. After getting “out toughed” in Knoxville the Cats will welcome in a team that is every bit as tough and definitely more desperate when the Texas A & M Aggies (11-4, 0-3 SEC) come calling.
P.J. Washington was the only Kentucky player who came with his lunch pail in the 76-65 defeat against the Vols. He had 13 points, on 6 of 8 shooting, three rebounds and one assist when he departed due to cramping. His absence cramped any chances Kentucky had of pulling out a win over Tennessee.
The youth and experience is very evident on this team. Various different players have taken their turns at being the best player on the team as Cal and the Cats maneuver through the process of getting everyone playing their best at the same time (March).
Right now Washington is taking his turn at being the most consistent of the young Wildcats. Not only was he very efficient against Tennessee on the offensive end and on his way to having a very solid game, his defensive work on Tennessee’s Grant Williams (0-4 FG, 2 points) in the first half was noteworthy as well.
He has gotten very comfortable on that left low block area and is getting, taking and making a lot of high percentage shots right now. In the game against LSU (18 points, six boards, two assits) he got a lot of dunks and layups which were the product of good ball movement and his teammates’ ability to find him before the Tigers could rotate over to him.
Against Tennessee, he was able to set up shop and score off of his own moves. He used his strength to muscle John Fulkerson and his size to score over Grant Williams and Admiral Schofield.
He only had seven points on 2 of 5 shooting against Georgia but that was in 15 minutes of action before he fouled out. This was on a night when the entire team struggled mightily from the field.
Flash back to the Louisville game on Dec. 29 and it was once again similar to what we’ve seen from him lately. He had 16 points, seven rebounds and two assists. So in three out of his last four games he’s been in a nice groove and will look to keep it going against Texas A & M.
The Aggies are reeling and in need of an SEC win in the worse way. Injuries and suspensions have gotten them off to a tumultuous start after being picked to be one of the nation’s top-notch teams. In his media session this afternoon, UK assistant coach Joel Justus said that the Cats were prepping for the A & M roster in its entirety.
“I think you have to prepare for all of them, which makes for, you know, an intense preparation on our staff’s part, on Cal’s part. But, we know what they’re going to be. They’re going to be a team that’s desperate and they can’t be more desperate than us, you know, when the game happens tomorrow. I think guys going through that the other night in Knoxville is exciting for our guys to get back out and play and exercise some of those demons that were brought out the other night. I think you’ll see a group of guys that’s excited to play. We love playing at home and our crowd, as we’ve said, we’ve got the best fans in the sport of basketball. I fully expect our guys to rise to the challenge hopefully that’s going to be presented to them tomorrow.”
Included in that prep will big the two Aggies that Washington and the Cats will have to contend with, Robert (10 rebounds per game) and Tyler Davis (14.1 points per game). The physicality that Kentucky faced in Knoxville will be duplicated and then some Tuesday in Lexington.
Washington is showing by his play that he will be up for the challenge, he just needs the rest of the Cats to join him.