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Ashton Hagans blames himself for loss, Sporting News columnist Mike DeCourcy says he “can’t have games like that”

Ashton Hagans talks to John Calipari during the loss at South Carolina. (Vicky Graff Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

Not long after Kentucky lost 81-78 at South Carolina Wednesday night sophomore point guard Ashton Hagans knew where to place the blame.

“Let my teammates down tonight!#bounceback,” Hagans posted on Twitter.

Hagans had 13 points because he was 9-for-11 from the field line. However, he was just 2-for-10 from the field and offset his seven assists and four rebounds with five turnovers in 32 minutes before fouling out late in the game.

UK’s other two guards — Immanuel Quickley and Tyrese Maxey — were a combined 11-for-16 from the field but often in the second half especially Hagans seemed to almost try to do too much.

Coach John Calipari did not single out any one player as the reason UK lost because he had plenty of spots to look from turnovers to rebounds to defense — or lack of defense.

“There were so many breakdowns, so many turnovers. We had 15. We’re a team that turns it over 11, 12 times. We had 15 and most of them were like running somebody over or trying to make a play when you should be passing,” Calipari said.

“We just became—the discipline issue I’ve been talking about came through today. And I keep saying, you have to be a disciplined player. This is about a group of guys coming out and playing together. You can’t be the guy that does your own thing. It’s not just one.”

Sporting News columnist Mike DeCourcy admitted he was “disappointed” by the game Hagans had.

“He just can’t have games like that,” DeCourcy said. “This is your deal. You are the guy running the show. You can’t have games where you are 2-for-10. It can’t happen at point guard. If you are not making shots, you are the one with the ball.

“You can’t do that, turn it over five times, foul out. You have to acknowledge that during the game and not do those things.”

Again, DeCourcy did not blame the loss solely on Hagans.

“Other players did not play to the level they are capable of,” DeCourcy said. “A lot of people need to take lessons out of that game. Learn how to handle an opposing team making a run.”

DeCourcy felt South Carolina, which was down 14 points once, decided it was easier to get rough with Kentucky than continuing to “play soft” and have to face coach Frank Martin in Thursday’s practice after a loss.

“No question those guys decided they were going to fight. There’s an advantage to being behind and being poor in some instances. They literally had nothing to lose and played that way,” DeCourcy said on WPBK-FM Thursday morning.

“They are at the bottom of the league. They are not going anywhere (in the postseason). The only thing they can look forward to is going into the SEC Tournament and hope. Last night was their Super Bowl and at Kentucky a player has to know that and deal with that every night. This time Kentucky didn’t deal with it very well.”

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  1. There will be games when Hagans is not the guy from a scoring standpoint and that seems to bother him. If his stats were 2/5, 0/2, 9/11, 1/4 5, 9, 2, 0, 3, 3, 11 we would have won the game. Five less shots, an offensive rebound, a couple of more assists, one more steal, two less turnovers, and 2 less fouls it never gets to overtime, we win by 10. That would have been a solid game but Ashton isn’t happy unless he is among the scoring leaders. He is reminding me of Andrew Harrison. He is more worried about his draft stock than team play. There will be games where he is the scoring leader, but Nick, Immanuel, and sometimes Tyrese are going to be the scoring leaders in most of our games….if Ashton doesn’t stop them by keeping the ball to himself.

    Sure, Montgomery, Brooks, and Whitney laid a bunch of eggs too, but we could have absorbed that if Ashton’s game had been a little more team focused. We should have beat this team by 25 even at their place. That would have been more indicative of a team in the hunt for a title. An SEC title looks questionable now.

    1. This could not be further from the truth. He just recently had a game against Missouri where he only took 3 shots. Ashton has always been a pass first point guard and last year his man criticism was not shooting. Now that he is more confident in his shot he DOES take a few I’ll-advised 3’a but it has nothing to do with him trying to lead the team in Scoring.

      1. Royce, you are right about last year and you are right about most of the games this year too, but go back and watch the second half of the last game if you can. The first half, Ashton was looking to pass. The second half is where he goes off the rails. More specifically, he stopped trying to get the ball to Nick and started looking for his own shot instead. Why such a marked difference? Go back and look at the Evansville loss. Ashton was in the same funk then as the last half of this game. A switch is being switched in his head and he is the one doing the switching. The question is Why? My guess is he doesn’t want to be here next year.

  2. There have been a few games this year where Hagans has just been too lackadaisical with the ball.
    Seems like he is either not thinking or trying to do too much. Maybe prove a point.
    He can take them a long way, but his assist to turnover ratio has to be top notch nearly every game and when he is not hitting, he needs to get it someone that is.
    Quickley and Richards can make him look really good if he gets them the ball.

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