By LARRY VAUGHT
Utah Valley hit 11 3-point shots. Kentucky hit ONE.
Yet somehow undermanned Kentucky still found a way to beat Utah Valley 82-74 Monday night in Rupp Arena.
Okay, an 8-point win over Utah Valley for a Kentucky team that a week ago had been ranked No. 1 normally would not be a cause to celebrate. Yet after being upset by Evansville last week and considering the injuries UK was dealing with, this was a good win for John Calipari’s team to get.
That’s why somehow this statement by Calipari after the game was sort of good news: “Ashton is going to be in pain tomorrow,” Calipari said.
That’s sophomore point guard Ashton Hagans who had 26 points on 7-for-14 shooting from the field and 12-for-12 at the foul line along with six rebounds, five assists, one steal and one block in 36 1’2 minutes to more than offset six turnovers and some rare defensive lapses.
However, the last two games it’s become clear that Hagans is not 100 percent healthy even if he has managed to still go both games. That’s why Calipari noted that Hagans would be hurting Tuesday.
Odds are sophomore guard Immanuel Quickley will be, too. He didn’t even play after suffering a chest injury at the end of Sunday’s practice — “He’s one that if he could have played, he would, no question,” Calipari said.
Throw in sophomore forward EJ Montgomery missing his third straight game with an ankle injury and UK was down to seven healthy scholarship players and four of them — Hagans, Nate Sestina, Nick Richards and Tyrese Maxey played 34 minutes or more.
“I’m happy we won the game. We’ve got to get these guys back and get going,” Calipari said.
The problem is Calipari doesn’t know when either one will be back. To make matters worse, freshman guard Kahlil Whitney dislocated his finger late in the game. But give him credit for racing down the court to grab a key defensive board just seconds after he dislocated his finger.
“Think about it. His finger popped out and he went down and tried to rebound that way,” Calipari said.
Will be miss practice/games?
“I don’t know yet. Let’s hope he doesn’t,” Calipari said.