By LARRY VAUGHT
A “beat up” Ashton Hagans didn’t quite have the opening game for Kentucky against Michigan State that he expected. He certainly played solid defense against outstanding Michigan State point guard Cassius Winston in UK’s win over the No. 1 Spartans Tuesday night in New York during his 29 minutes on the court but other parts of his game were off.
He had 11 points but missed more shots (6) than he made (3). He had as many turnovers (3) as assists (3). He managed just two rebounds and one steal, not the numbers would one expect from last year’s SEC Defensive Player of the Year.
At the end of the game, Hagans was not on the court to lead coach John Calipari’s team because the coach said after the game he was “beat up and hurt” before the game even started.
“His leg has been bothering him for about four or five days. But he’s such – I don’t know if you saw whoever we played. He got kneed, kicked in the head. And if you saw it you would’ve said ‘wow’ and he just kinda bounced up,” Calipari said.
“He is really tough. For him to say his leg is bothering him, and we’ve had the MRI, we’ve had everything done. There’s nothing there. It’s more of a strain, a muscle thing. And I just kept telling him, ‘Take yourself out, tell me when you’re ready to go.’
“That last free throw he made, he looked at me like ‘take me out.’ And EJ ran out. So he stayed on the court. But he’s a really mentally, physically tough kid.”