By LARRY VAUGHT
Give Tennessee coach Rick Barnes for being perfectly honest in his assessment of Kentucky freshman P.J. Washington, who was the dominant player in Saturday’s game before he went out with leg cramps. With Washington unable to play, Tennessee routed UK in the second half.
“His nine points in the first half was an issue we talked about because we know Kentucky depends on him to stick those out there. We told our team early that PJ Washington is a big time player,” Barnes said.
“I think fouls hurt. We got fortunate and went against the grain a little bit in terms of putting Grant Williams back. We’ve been very good offensively against zones this year and today it was good for us. I think we rebounded out of it a little better than I thought we could.
“There’s no doubt that PJ Washington early in the game was just a man. They were just throwing it up over top of us. It looked like they were trying to use him to play through our front line.”
So how is this Kentucky team different than ones John Calipari has had in the past?
“They’re younger. You look at them and they have some guys that look and remind me of my team where they’re not as big and strong as some of the players that Calipari has had in the past, but they still are. Richardson and PJ Washington is a big boy, but they’re long, really, really long. That was a major concern for us,” Barnes said after Tennessee beat UK in Knoxville for the third straight year.
“I can tell you, they’re the youngest team in the country and they’ve played and the way he’s brought them along, and they will be one team as his teams always do, that will get better and better and better because they always do. He will have them where he needs them when it is time.”