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John Calipari won’t “cheat” team by not playing three guards together

Tyrese Maxey (Vicky Graff Photo)


Kentucky started with a three-guard lineup of Ashton Hagans, Immanuel Quickley and Tyrese Maxey in Saturday’s 67-53 win over Georgia Tech.

Hagans led all scorers with 21 points and also had seven rebounds and seven assists. It was his second 20-point game this season and he’s now had five or more assists in six straight games, the best run since De’Aaron Fox had  five or more in seven straight games in  2016.

Quickley tied his career-high with 16 points and has now made at least one 3-pointer in 10 straight games.

Maxey went 0-for-9 from the field but was 6-for-6 at the foul line but had a career-high seven rebounds and career-high six assists.

“Now, the problem is it may push Johnny (Juzang) and Kahlil (Whitney) a little bit back and I don’t want to do that, which is why I wasn’t starting him (Quickley) early. But if those three deserve to play together, it is what it is,” Calipari said. “What, am I going to cheat one of those guys because I’m trying to get — no.”

He again recalled a conversation he had with former legendary UCLA coach in 2010 when Wooden told him his team was not an execution team “because you try to play nine guys. I played six. And you either earn the right to play in practice or you didn’t play. ”

Calipari said Quickley earned the right to play and pointed out that Wooden told him you could not have a great team playing nine players.

Wooden told Calipari “I understand why you’re doing it (playing nine players). You’re trying to bring everybody along. Kids transfer. They didn’t with us. They were there. I had guys had to sit three years, in their fourth year become an NBA player. It’s changed.”

It has and Calipari says many of his best teams have used just five or six players.

“This team, I’m hoping I can play nine,” Calipari said.

So are Whitney and Juzang.


  1. I think Maxey’s shot probably suffered as a result of what I thought was a great defensive effort on his part in the GT game. Considering he is just a freshman, all of that defensive pressure he expended, took a lot out of him…his body is really getting in shape and come late Feb., he is going to be tough as nails. As soon as he starts putting his shoulder into the defender on his driving layups, he’s going to be a load-can hardly wait. Sooner or later, as the offense starts cooking, he and Quickley, hopefully will start running the curl patterns that Herro was so effective in utilizing last year- I personally like the 3 guard offense that seems to be emerging-Go Cats!

    1. He played really, really hard

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