ST. LOUIS – Emerging as a legitimate candidate for major national award consideration, Kentucky men’s basketball’s PJ Washington can add a national player of the week award to his already impressive résumé.
The sophomore forward was named the Oscar Robertson National Player of the Week on Tuesday by the U.S. Basketball Writers Association after leading the Wildcats this weekend to a 17-point victory over Tennessee, which came into Rupp Arena as the top-ranked team in the country with just one loss and riding a 19-game winning streak.
The reigning Southeastern Conference Player of the Week, who was practically unstoppable this weekend as Kentucky captured its first win over a No. 1 ranked team since the NCAA Tournament in 2011, was chosen by a representative of the USBWA board of directors from a list of Division I conference players of the week.
Washington is Kentucky’s first winner of the Oscar Robertson National Player of the Week honor since Kevin Knox won it Jan. 31, 2018, following UK’s 17-point comeback at West Virginia. Washington is the fifth Wildcat to win the honor since its inception in 2009-10, joining Knox, Malik Monk (2016-17), Julius Randle (2013-14) and Doron Lamb (2010-11).
He is also the third Southeastern Conference player to win the award this season.
Washington also won SEC Player of the Week honors on Monday to become Kentucky’s first two-time winner since Tyler Ulis earned the award three times during the 2015-16 season. Ulis would go on to win SEC Player of the Year that season. Washington is the fourth Wildcat under John Calipari to earn the honor multiple times in a season joining Anthony Davis (2011-12), Randle (2013-14) and Ulis.
The Dallas native averaged 21.5 points per game in two games last week against top-25 ranked teams. He had a game-high 20 points to couple with nine boards, three assists and a steal against No. 19/21 LSU. Washington then followed that with a game-high 23 points to go along with five boards, two steals and an assist against the top-ranked Volunteers. The 17-point margin of victory was the second largest in program history and the biggest since an 81-40 win over top-ranked St. John’s in 1951.
Washington dominated offensively to end the longest winnings streak in Tennessee school history. He shot 75 percent from the field on 9-of-12 shooting. He had two key stretches of points in the convincing win including helping Kentucky race out to a 3-2 lead it would never relinquish. After the Volunteers opened the scoring, he drained a 3-pointer from the top of the key and scored UK’s first seven points. Washington then had four in a row after UT put together a 13-0 run in the second half.
For the week, he shot 64 percent from the field and has topped the 20-point plateau in four straight. He’s the first UK player to score 20 or more in four consecutive games since Monk scored 20 or more in four straight from Nov. 23 to Dec. 3, 2016. Washington has logged 20 or more points in seven of UK’s last eight games as he continues to play the best basketball of his career.
Washington has scored in double figures in 10 straight to become the first Kentucky player to achieve the feat since Shai Gilgeous-Alexander had 10 in a row from Feb. 20 to March 22, 2018.
Washington is averaging 21.0 points, 8.1 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 1.3 blocks and 1.1 steals per game while shooting 54.4 percent and 50.0 percent from behind the arc over the last eight games. He’s averaging 16.6 points, 7.4 rebounds and shooting 54.3 percent from the field in Kentucky’s seven games vs. Associated Press Top 25 opponents.
For the season, Washington is averaging a team-high 14.8 points and a team-best 8.0 rebounds. He’s shooting 52.6 percent from the floor and 43.4 percent from long range.
The Wildcats return to action Tuesday at 9 p.m. ET at Missouri. That game will be televised on the ESPN. It’s the lone regular-season matchup with the Tigers this season.
‑ GO CATS –