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P.J. Washington: “If I make free throws, we win the game.”

P.J. Washington blamed himself for UK’s loss. (Vicky Graff Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

Teammates knew without P.J. Washington doing what he did, Kentucky would have had no chance to be in the game at the end Thursday night against Kansas State.

He finished with 18 points and a career-high 15 rebounds along with three steals, another career high, and one block while playing all 40 minutes in Kentucky’s 61-58 NCAA Tournament loss that ended UK’s season at 26-11.

While he was 5-for-7 from the field, he was just 8-for-20 from the foul line.

“We lost. I didn’t play good at all. As you saw, I went 8-for-20 from the line. I feel like if I would have made at least half of those, we would have won the game, so I didn’t play really good,” said Washington.

He said the loss was “hard to deal with” because the players all expected to win.

“It was a great season and I loved playing with this team,” he said. “If I make free throws, we win the game. Instead, we lost.”

He’s right — and wrong.

If he hits 14 free throws, a 70 percent mark, UK likely would have won. But if he had not dominated the game inside to draw so many fouls and also get six offensive rebounds UK would have had no chance to win.

It’s easy to look back and say when he missed free throws that coach John Calipari should have taken him out But he couldn’t because he was UK’s only inside scoring threat and best rebounder.

“I was just trying to do everything I could to possibly win the game. I was just trying to get the ball on the rim.
I am glad guys trusted me and got me easy baskets,” Washington said. “I felt like the refs called it tight both ways. We just had to capitalize on that and get the ball inside and we did a great job of that. It was a great opportunity and everybody wanted to win. It is what it is.”

Washington said he didn’t lose his confidence at the foul line despite missing shot after shot.

“I just tried to shoot with confidence. I felt like I was shooting well but they just didn’t go in and we lost,” Washington said.

Don’t forget he had a huge blocked shot late in the game and came within inches of blocking what turned out to be the game-winning shot for Kansas State.

“We had the momentum late and let it slip away,” Washington said. “I almost blocked it (the last shot) but I didn’t and we lost the game.”

4 comments

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  1. It takes more than one player to “win” a game and it also takes more than one player to ” lose” a game.

  2. I agree with his statement, if he hits them UK wins. He is a young player, the pressure is on in the “Sweet 16” which is all new to him, and all that. But he played a hard nosed game, and gave his all down the stretch. Some others oh his team were just off their game last night due to a very physical game. Gotta sink FT’s when those situations arise in a close NCAA Tourney game to win. He didn’t.

  3. There are a lot of things you can look at and say it cost UK the game. Yes, free throws were one of those things, but so was Knox and Diallo not hitting shots, too many turnovers, and a lack of rebounding in critical situations. This year, UK played just like you expect from a team with little to no upper class experience.

    1. OF….thought about you during the game, hoping we could have brought home victory for you and the other UK fans in attendance. Everything that hurt us during the year i.e., playing selfish, no leadership, no collective will to win, too many fouls and turnovers, little intensity and passion for playing complete games, all came to a head in most important game of the year. We may never have an open opportunity to get to Final Four like we had this year. I am not confident that Cal will be able to deliver another banner for us because missing out too many key recruits and having to apologizing for too many non timeouts called.

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