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PJ Washington, Cats crush Vanderbilt

PJ Washington (Vicky Graff Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

Six minutes into the game in Rupp Arena earlier this month, Vanderbilt had 16 points on 5-for-7 shooting and held a 16-4 lead over Kentucky before eventually falling to the Cats.

Tuesday night in Nashville, Vanderbilt got to 16 points — with just over 18 minutes left in THE GAME. It took Vanderbilt 22 minutes to get as many points as it had in six minutes at Rupp.

By then, Kentucky had a 45-15 halftime lead and truly coasted to an 87-52 win over the Commodores.

Sophomore PJ Washington seems intent on making coach John Calipari look like a prophet by saying he can be as good as any player the nation. He had a double-double at halftime and finished with 26 points on 9-for-15 shooting (3-for-3 from 3-point range), 12 rebounds, three steals and two assists in 26 minutes. It was his third straight 20-point game.

“PJ is playing so well. I have waited a year and a half for him to play this way. I am not going to let him revert,” Kentucky coach John Calipari said.

Tyler Herro overcome a sluggish offensive start to add 12 points on 6-for-13 shooting along with three rebounds, three steals and two assists. Keldon Johnson scored 11 points in the second half when he made three 3-pointers after not scoring in the first half.

And Kentucky finally got a potential breakout game from sophomore Nick Richards. He had 14 points on 4-for-5 shooting from the field and 6-for-10 at the foul line along with four blocks in 15 minutes after blocking five shots in 10 minutes against Kansas. His only issue was that he had just one rebound just like he did against Kansas.

“We expect him to make shots. He just came in and did his job,” Washington said.

Kentucky had a 17-2 run late in the first half when its defense just dominated the Commodores. Kentucky had 11 assists on 17 goals in the first half and was 5-for-10 from 3-point range with just one turnover.

The Cats had 16 points off 14 Vanderbilt turnovers and limited Vandy to 5-for-20 shooting from the field and 2-for-11 from 3-point range.

“We defended like crazy,” Calipari said. “We rebounded and were willing passers.”
Kentucky built its largest halftime lead in a SEC road game since Jan. 16, 1996, when it led by 44 points at LSU. Of course, that UK team won a national title.

“Being up 30 it is hard to play,” Calipari said. “We can’t afford to revert back. I was harder on them in the second half than I was in the first half.”

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  1. Crushing took place the first half. Second half a yawner…not sure ever wanted to see a game end as much as this one. Outstanding game by PJ and outstanding play by Nick. Our defense is really carrying the team and continues to stay very consistent. What was up with Reid? 1 point and 3 boards in 23 minutes. Also very surprised that the rebounding was even in both halves. Concerns…..out inability to feed the post and hit a high % of shots in close. That is UT’s strength, and I don’t see how we can stop them. I see Williams getting a couple of quick fouls on Richards and rendering him ineffective. I see them with big advantage at the free throw line. Can’t wait for the game and certainly hope we can get a split.

  2. Arguably PJ’s best game of his career from a 3 point shooting standpoint. If he can shoot like that in this game, he should be able to do so in most games…if he can stay focused. That is PJ’s kryptonite…mental toughness. Everyone is focused on TN but LSU in Baton Rouge will be just as tough. Hope we don’t overlook them.

  3. Tennessee is beatable I’m not worrying about the vols. That said we still got few games yet to play and gotta take it one game at a time. The y looked great Las night.

  4. Total domination start to finish by UK. Many players contributed, including Nick and E. J. Great win, but it is only one game. UT still sits atop the SEC. No time to talk about UK’s greatness now, more work to be done.

  5. The crushing defense makes this team good. I haven’t seen defense like that since the 14-15 team. They held an SEC team to 15 in the first half. That is playing D big time.

  6. The Cats are looking good.
    I’m somewhat concerned about Reid Travis. He can and should do better, but hopefully he will rise to the occasion against stiffer competition.
    GO BIG BLUE !!!

  7. Reid has had a couple of bad games but am betting he and PJ will be in sync for most of our games than not. Was thinking today about how lucky we are that we haven’t had any serious injuries yet.

    1. Amen!!!
      I hate to see any player injured…especially UK players.
      Hopefully, they will make it through the gauntlet without any serious bumps.

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