By LARRY VAUGHT
Kentucky senior center Reid Travis had 20 points, including 14 in the first half, along with six rebounds, three assists and two blocked shots in Saturday’s 80-72 win over North Carolina and made a believer out of North Carolina coach Roy Williams.
Kentucky coach John Calipari called Travis a “beast.” Williams just said he was basically unstoppable.
“Our intention was to try to front the low post. We didn’t get him fronted. We also, one of the rules we had defensively is not to help up the lane and three different times in the first half, we helped up the lane and they ditched it down to either Reid or PJ or one of their other big guys and they dumped three of them because we just doing something we weren’t supposed to do,” Williams said.
Williams got a little confused about Travis, a transfer from Stanford.
“Reid, he was first team all SEC last year — not SEC, whatever that league was he was in last year. He’s first team preseason SEC this year, so he’s a very good player,” Williams said. “They dominated things inside, and we don’t have a big stud like we’ve had at times in the past. But we’ve still got to figure out a play to win.
But got to front the guy in the low post if he’s like Reid and PJ, as well. PJ loves to get the ball in the foul line area and drive right, and laid it up and had one guy that was there to take a charge and sort of backed out, so we’ve got to do a better job of getting our guys to do those kind of things.”
Washington finished with 11 points, 10 rebounds, eight assists and two blocks. He was 5-for-9 from the field and played 31 minutes.
Both teams had a lot of turnovers (Kentucky 18, Carolina 17) but Williams said UK’s passing was much better. Kentucky had 24 assists, six more than Carolina.
“I think their big guys looked for each other. It’s a little bit of a buddy system, which is what we try to do which is one big guy gets the ball and another big guy goes to the front of the him and makes himself available,” Williams said.
“Three times in the first half, we helped up the lane and supposed to fake and cover the basket if you’re a big guy and get help from the wings and we didn’t do that. I think all those dunks that they got at the end of the first half was big guy to big guy.”
Kentucky also won the rebounding 43-33 thanks to Washington and Travis.
What created that edge for UK?
“Effort. Toughness. Probably a little size might have had something to do with it, too. We went small and it was just terrible. We couldn’t guard the post and couldn’t get a rebound, either,” the North Carolina coach said. “I think rebounding is a little technique, but it’s going after the basketball, too.”