By LARRY VAUGHT
Count on seeing a lot of Kentucky’s three-guard offense again tonight when Kentucky plays at South Carolina looking for its fourth straight Southeastern Conference win and fifth straight win overall.
The Cats have a dynamic trio in sophomores Ashton Hagans and Immanuel Quickley along with freshman Tyrese Maxey. Hagans is an elite defender and slasher on offense. Quickley is the team’s best 3-point shooter and much better defender than some believe. Maxey is the team’s leading scorer and just someone who does everything well.
And all three are clutch at the foul line, which could be huge when March Madness starts.
““Coach always says he has three playmakers on the court when we’re on the court,” Maxey said. “I feel like if we just keep feeding off of each other and reading off each other then we’ll be doing good, getting other guys shots and things like that.”
Hagans flirted with what would have been only the fourth triple-double in school history against Alabama. He got the points but had nine rebounds and nine assists.
“Ashton is a junkyard dog, man. He’ll do whatever Coach needs him to do,” Maxey said. “If it’s playing defense — like that game he needed to go get rebounds and that’s one thing that all of us guards and all of us on this whole team has to take on the identity of going to get rebounds because we have to go get them.”
Kentucky assistant coach Tony Barbee says Maxey’s problem can be that he “just kind of goes with the flow” at times.
“But that’s not the Tyrese that this team needs. We need him in attack mode every single game, every single possession. That doesn’t necessarily mean he shoots it every time because he is a willing passer. We just need him aggressive to make plays for this team,” Barbee said.
“It’s the consistency that we’re talking about. Freshmen come and go, and we’ve had some atypical freshmen who have been able to maintain that. But this year, we’ve got some more normal freshmen. We’re trying to help them grow and to understand what that means every day.
“That it comes with the habits you develop in practice. If you bring it every day in practice, it doesn’t mean you’re going to play great in terms of scoring every game, but you’re going to be there in terms of attention to detail. Tyrese gets that.”