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John Calipari was trying to let Ashton Hagans “play through stuff” against Auburn

Ashton Hagans (Vicky Graff Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

 Before Sunday’s game against Auburn, Kentucy coach John Calipari talked about the open shots that freshman point guard Ashton Hagans was going to get in the NCAA Midwest Region final and how he had to shoot with confidence — and that the coach knew he could make shots.

Former UK All-American Mike Pratt talked on the UK Radio Network pregame show about how Calipari spent a lot of time with Hagans at the shootaround “trying to build him up” for the game.

The result? Hagans had seven turnovers, went 1-for-4 from 3-point range and couldn’t start to help contain Auburn guards Bryce Brown or Jared Harper, who combined for 50 points in the 77-71 overtime win that sent Auburn to its first Final Four.

After the game Calipari explained why he played Hagans 38 minutes — second most on the team — despite his ineffectiveness on both ends of the court/

“Well, you go through a whole season and some of the stuff you have to understand is bigger than one game. I know everybody will go nuts and say what are you talking about? There are times you have to let guys play through stuff and you got to get them to change on the run,” the UK coach said.

“Then they understand that the only thing they’re trying to conquer is themselves. If you don’t like how you’re playing, change. Immanuel (Quickley) couldn’t make a shot. So he wasn’t exactly playing confidently, either.

“We put Jemarl (Baker) in. He got scored on a few times right there and fouled it. I felt comfortable with Ashton. I know he was turning it over and — but you know, Tyler (Herro) — we just — guys didn’t play well. I want to tell you that I got to give Auburn credit for really getting up in and bumping and grinding and doing some stuff that got these guys a little off kilter.

We were able to play and throw it inside, and I thought we did a good job to survive. You’ve got to have better perimeter play and we have all year until today. Now, I’m going to give credit to Auburn. I’m not saying that’s why we lost.”

However, many UK fans were definitely pointing to the point guard play from Hagans, who at midseason was playing like the best point guard in the SEC before his play dropped off dramatically at the worst time of the season for UK in the final few weeks.

 

2 comments

  1. Great time to take that much of a chance on a player that has been in reverse for some weeks. Hagans has been more out of than in control of late. Reid was a good steadying influence and leader most of the year, but you don’t earn your way back to hometown making 5 field goals in 2 games. Too bad these guys had to save their worse game for last. I didn’t expect us to get this far with the way we have been playing….we have been more lucky than good to finish the season.

  2. None of UK’s guards played well. So who would you have put in? Ashton is the only one with the speed to have any chance of guarding either Brown or Harper IMO. Tyler has been pretty good in the latter part of the season at guarding the perimeter, but just didn’t have the speed and got repeatedly burned against their guards. Credit Auburn for using the advantage they had.

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