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.”