By LARRY VAUGHT
Freshman Ashton Hagans says Kentucky has the “same mindset” going into today’s Southeastern Conference showdown at Tennessee that it did two weeks ago when the Vols came to Rupp Arena and UK won handily.
“They’re a very good team. We’re down a big (Reid Travis). We’re trying to see if he’s going to play or not, but even if he doesn’t, we’ve just got to come in with the mindset just to ‘kill’ like we were at the beginning (of the first game), with the same energy,” Hagans said. “We were more physical than they were, so we’ve just got to come out physical.”
Hagans will be paired against Jared Bone, who many believe is the best overall point guard in the SEC.
“He’s a very tough guard. He’s fast. He’s a great defensive player, too. He attacks the basket very well, knocks down open jumpers. It’s going to be another tough matchup, but coming in practice and competing against Immanuel (Quickley), he gets me prepared very well and I’m just ready for the matchup,” Hagans said.
“Their guards are very physical. They’ve got some great guards who can play ‘D’ very well. But the bigs, it is a physicality game. EJ and Nick are going to have to step up and fight down there, and then we’re going to be straight.”
Hagans doesn’t mind matchups with marquee players like Bone and LSU’s Tremont Waters.
“They are on the best point guard lists. So that’s something I’m looking at, going out there and competing, trying to make a name for myself and just doing what we can for this team to get a ‘W,'” Hagans said.
Hagans knows playing on the road is not the same as being at Rupp Arena but UK has lost just once on the road in SEC play — and that was in the first league game at Alabama.
“We bring the same intensity, crowd is going crazy, sometimes we just have to hush them up,” Hagans “We just know they’re going to come out fighting, try to hit us first. We just can’t let that happen. When they give us something, we’re going to have to feed off that and see where we go from there.”