By LARRY VAUGHT
After Kentucky beat North Carolina and Louisville, most thought the Wildcats had put their season-opening 34-point loss to Duke finally behind them.
Then Kentucky started Southeastern Conference play with a loss at Alabama.
Looking back, sophomore PJ Washington says the Cats were a bit “arrogant” going into that game — a mistake he insists won’t happen again.
Kentucky is on a seven-game win streak after Tuesday’s beatdown of Vanderbilt going into Saturday afternoon’s game at Florida. They have climbed to No. 7 in the national rankings.
Washington says Kentucky earned respect back with three straight wins over ranked foes along with the December wins over North Carolina and Louisville.
“I mean, we’re winning right now. We’re on a roll, and we’re just trying to keep it going and just win all of our next games,” Washington said. “We’re just going to come out and not underestimate anybody and focus on our game plan and try to play our game.”
Washington certainly has been focused. He has scored 20 or more points in three straight games. He had 67 points, 31 rebounds, six blocks and five steals in those games. He’s 8-for-15 from 3-point range the last five games and is shooting 41 percent from 3-point range this season.
He leads the team in rebounding at 8.5 per game and is second in scoring (13.4 points per game) and blocked shots (24). He is shooting almost 70 percent from the foul line and 51 percent overall from the field.
“I’ve been working so hard in the gym every day,” Washington said. “My shot, my body. I’m just working on getting my teammates involved a little bit more, and I feel like I’m more aggressive and more comfortable this year.”