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PJ Washington shows “who he is” in second half

PJ Washington (Vicky Graff Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

After he played just seven minutes in the first half after getting in early foul trouble for the second straight game, PJ Washington got his game going again in the second half of Tuesday’s 80-76 win at Mississippi.

Washington didn’t score the first half but came back with 13 points in the second half, including 11 of UK’s 13 points in one stretch that helped turn the game in Kentucky’s favor.

During the second half, ESPN sideline reporter Laura Rutledge said UK coach John Calipari told his players he wanted “everything to go through PJ” because UK could not guard him.

Calipari said after the game that getting the ball to Washington on the high post was a halftime adjustment against Ole Miss’ zone defense. The plan was to let him create and Calipari said he “made all the right plays” during the second half.

“PJ in the second half, that is who you are. I know you don’t want to be that guy because it is hard to have that toughness and energy, but that’s who he is,” Calipari said. “I told him that is who he is and there is no reason for him not to play that way every single game.”

Ole Miss coach Kermit Davis said he told his players preparing for the game that Washington was a player “they need to watch and try to be like” because of how he plays.

Davis also said UK simply won the game.

“We had great energy,” Davis said. “I thought our team played the entire game. Kentucky is just good.”

2 comments

  1. Over the last many games, I have seen a Kentucky team that has trouble putting 2 halves together. Either they have dominated in a first half only to hold on for dear life in the second half, or they have fallen behind in a lackadaisical first half, only to scramble and scrape and fight to win in the second half. Two exceptions to this general trend. UK played a full game against Auburn and failed to play a full game against UT.

    Yes, PJ did show what he is capable of doing in the second half last night, but for the second game in a row he had too much pine time due to foul issues in the first half. I was pleased to see him “come alive” in the second half last night, but a team leader, or as Calipari likes to say “the best player in the country” plays 40 minute games, every game.

  2. PJ’s problem is focus and effort. When he fails to command both, he gets in foul trouble and contributes very little. I had said he is lazy and at times I think it fits, but he also just seems disinterested in what’s going on like the first half at Oxford. To be fair, our guards still struggle to make post passes in a timely manner, Even with his improved scoring in the second half, he only had 2 rebounds for the whole game…that is unacceptable. I am sure PJ will declare for the draft, but I don’t see much of a career for him until he learns to play a complete game.

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