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Ashton Hagans’ parents were “fighters” just like he is now

Ashton Hagans will face Georgia freshman Anthony Edwards again tonight. (Vicky Graff Photo)

By KEITH TAYLOR, Kentucky Today

Since conference play began, Kentucky has been involved in close games. Four of the team’s five contests have been determined by nine points, while the past two games — a loss at South Carolina and a win over Arkansas — were by a combined margin of 10 points.

Assistant coach Tony Barbee said the close games are a “good thing” because this is a competitive sport.

“You’re fortunate when you can blow somebody out, but that’s not going to happen at the level that we’re playing at in this conference,” he said. “One of the best in the country, if not the best. You’re going to have games that go down to the wire and then, in the season when there’s a lot of parity all across the country and there’s not a lot of separation from what might be the top and the bottom, you’re going to have a lot of close games.

“It’s good that we’re getting this experience, and we got quite a bit of it in the nonconference schedule. We’ve learned and we’ve grown from it. Our young guys are a little more comfortable in those situations where it is a nip-and-tuck game at this level.”

That competitive spirit, Barbee says, comes from a simple “will to win” that Kentucky will need again tonight when it hosts Georgia.

“We’ve got a group that hates to lose, and it doesn’t mean you’re going to win every game,” Barbee said. “But these guys are going to battle, scrap, and fight. And if you lose a game, it’s only because we ran out of time, not because we gave up or stopped trying. That makes a special group when you’ve got talented guys like we do that care about winning and losing.”

It all starts with sophomore point guard Ashton Hagans.

“My parents, they always were fighters,” he said. “I guess that’s how I’m riding.”

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Gametracker: Georgia at Kentucky, 7 p.m., Tuesday. TV/Radio: ESPN, UK Radio Network.

Keith Taylor is sports editor for Kentucky Today. Reach him at or twitter @keithtaylor21.

1 comment

  1. Ashton does have more fight in him than anyone else on the team, but he needs to channel that into energy instead of forcing the action. He had a great game tonight. He is proving he is not just an assist guy. He showed tonight that his biggest impact on defense comes off the ball when he anticipates passes or comes in behind the guy with the ball. He was looking for NIck and Nick was looking for the ball. EJ had his best all around game tonight. Keion had a good game as did Johnny. Nate looked like he was wearing concrete shoes. Immanuel is not the same, seems to be pressing at times. Maybe it was from focusing more on defense. Tyrese was in a funk too. Kahlil looks like he is going to fall out of the rotation as we get into the meat of the conference schedule. If they could all get clicking at the same time…lookout!

    On a sad note, Evansville fired Walter McCarty due to sexual harassment issues. Apparently the allegations were founded and proven. He really blew a golden opportunity by thinking with his little head instead of his big head. He will not get a chance like this again.

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