By LARRY VAUGHT
Not only has Kentucky won six straight games, but now it has three straight wins over ranked teams after beating Kansas 71-63 Saturday night.
“It’s good, but I think we all know that we can do better. We have high expectations,” said freshman Keldon Johnson.
So do Kentucky fans again now with the Final Four about 10 weeks away and UK winning and now ranked in the top 10.
“We are in pretty good shape. We are just taking it game-by-game and day-by-day, trying to get better,” Johnson said. “I don’t think we are worried about the Final Four right now. We are worried about our next opponent.”
That will be Vanderbilt Tuesday night in Nashville. You might remember that Vanderbilt almost knocked off No. 1 Tennessee in Nashville last Tuesday — and probably would have if not for a couple of controversial officiating calls in the final minutes.
Johnson was one of three Wildcats who had double-doubles against Kansas — the first time that has happened since 2010 when Patrick Patterson, John Walls and DeMarcus Cousins had double-doubles in the same game. Johnson had 15 points and 10 rebounds while PJ Washington had 20 points and 12 boards and Reid Travis 18 points and 12 rebounds. Ashton Hagans got close to a fourth double-double with 12 points and seven assists.
“It’s very special that we can have three players … well, we have multiple players that can go out there and get double-doubles … but, we had three tonight, and it really shows that we were all hitting the glass and really focused,” Johnson said.
Johnson was just 2-for-6 from the field the first half but was 3-for-3 in the second half — and all came from 3-point range. He admitted Friday he might be too hyped for the game.
“I think I handled it pretty well. I was locked in from the jump. I just did whatever I had to do for my team to win, and I hit open shots, played defense, and rebounded the ball. I think I handled it pretty well. I showed up for the big game today,” Johnson said.
He’s been doing that during UK’s winning streak — other than his scoreless outing at Auburn. He says the players have each other’s back and the daily hard work is showing.
“A lot of it is defense, because if you don’t get back on defense, it’s easy buckets after easy buckets. We are all on the same page. Everybody is buying in, and everyone knows their role and what coach expects from them. When we all buy in, good things happen,” Johnson said.
Like they did against No. 9 Kansas.