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Kentucky better get used to double teams against PJ Washington

PJ Washington (UK Athletics Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

Kentucky didn’t get a field goal the final seven minutes of play and had only five field goals — three by Ashton Hagans — in the second half of Tuesday night’s win at Missouri.

Kentucky sophomore PJ Washington had just three points the second half after getting 15 in the first half. However, Missouri coach Cuonzo Martin said this to his team before the start of the second half: “Got to stop PJ. He is doing everything right now.”

Missouri did just that by double teaming Washington almost every time he touched the basketball.

“They trapped him, crowded him. He threw the right pass. A couple more times he tried to shoot but I told him if they were double teaming him, let other guys shoot.”

One would think more teams will be doing that. He was named the Oscar Robertson National Player of the Week on Tuesday by the U.S. Basketball Writers Association after leading the Wildcats to a 17-point victory over then No. 1 Tennessee.
 
Washington is the fifth Wildcat to win the honor since its inception in 2009-10, joining Kevin Knox, Malik Monk, Julius Randle and Doron Lamb. ESPN reporter Laura Rutledge reported during Tuesday’s game that Calipari broke the news to his team at practice before the game.
Washington averaged 21.5 points per game in two games last week against top-25 ranked teams. He has now scored in double figures in 11 straight games and is averaging 21 points, 8.1 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 1.3 blocks and 1.1 steals per game. He’s averaging 16.6 points, 7.4 rebounds and shooting 54.3 percent from the field in Kentucky’s seven games vs. Associated Press Top 25 opponents.

“It is so hard to take him out of the game because if you take away one part, he has a counter to it,” ESPN analyst Jimmy Dykes said about Washington. “He’s just playing great.”

Yes he is and that’s why Kentucky better get ready to see more teams double teaming Washington the rest of the season.

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  1. The second half last night was very peculiar. In the first half, there were 34 possessions, which is about normal, and was on track with the modeling for this matchup, but in the second half, there were only 24 possessions, and only 58 possessions for the entire game.

    Here is how UK used its 24 possessions:

    Shot attempts: 12. 7 from inside the arc and 5 from outside the arc. They made 3 of 7 from inside, and 2 of 5 from outside for 12 points.
    Turnovers: 6
    Free Throw Trips: 6. There were 14 free throws, but two of those were “and one” opportunities following made baskets. They made 13 of 14.

    That is 25 points in 24 possessions, which is off their usual offensive efficiency, but the defense allowed Missouri to score 35 points on their possessions in the second half. The defense was dismal, and the reason for that is two-fold, a high turnover rate (25%) and rebounding that can only be described as “if the ball bounces into my hands, I will try to hold on to it.”

    There were NO offensive rebounds in the second half, thus NO second chance points, a major rare situation for any Calipari coached team. In addition, defensive rebounding, another strength of this team, was dismal. UK only got 8 rebounds in the second half, all defensive rebounds, but they allowed Missouri to get 12 offensive rebounds. The rebounding in the second half, coupled with a turnover rate of 25% in the second half, ought to have Calipari’s hair on fire. Missouri got an astounding 60% of their missed shots off the boards in the second half.

  2. If Reid is out for any length of time, PJ will definitely feel the effects as, at this time, neither Nick nor EJ poses the offensive threat that Travis does.
    I too was perplexed by the lack of rebounding. Cal noted after the game that our guards were not rebounding, and without Reid in to help, our rebounding suffered.

  3. Double teams are part of the game. PJ will need to look for the open man. The rest of the guys on the floor will need to make themselves available for and be ready to receive a pass from PJ., especially the one whose man goes to make the double team. PJ will need to work on making those passes while doubled up. This will lead to open 3 point shots or shots from the right side low block. They all need to practice this and be prepared for it when it happens.

  4. Coach speak…Cal said today that he is confident Nick and EJ will step up if Reid can’t go. What evidence could that be based? They both have shown to be contact averse.

    1. Mike, there is “stepping up” and “STEPPING UP” and I believe you think they will do the former and not the latter, and is it possible that is what Calipari was really saying as well?

  5. Professor…..Let’s hope it is the latter. I don’t think there is any question that they both have the talent but do they have the hunger and want to?

    1. Sure, the next two weeks can either be a pity party or a team growth opportunity.

      Can’t be both, and the players get to decide which event they will participate in.

  6. Guess the negative in me thinks that Reid’s absence could be an awful easy excuse to use for poor play or loss or two.

  7. That 1-2-1 might be in the wings if E.J. and Nick don’t want to do battle.
    With LSU going down tonight, you know it’s going to be tricky/tacky against our bigs in Saturday’s Auburn game and especially in Knoxville. We need you Coach Hall-Ha!

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