By LARRY VAUGHT
Mississippi coach Kermit Davis believes Ashton Hagans is the nation’s best on-ball defender — and he might be.
However, he’s not the nation’s best 3-point shooting point guard. He was 0-for-5 from 3-point range in Saturday’s 67-62 win over Mississippi and is now shooting just 26 percent (13 of 49) from long range this season and more teams are going to dare him to shoot from 3-point range like the Rebels did.
Hagans also continued a dangerous trend from the last 11 games by making four turnovers — he has had four or more turnovers in five of the last seven games — and to complicate that he fouled out late in the game about 40 feet from the basket trying to fight his way through a screen rather than just going around it.
“He was better last game (when he had 11 points, 10 rebounds, eight assists at Vanderbilt). He struggled a little bit this game,” Kentucky coach John Calipari said after Saturday’s comeback win. “He got beat up a little bit, but he’s fine.”
Calipari knows Hagans’ play has been scrutinized and even the sophomore point guard has admitted he has to play better. Yet the coach says he’s not that worried about him.
“He’s the least of our worries. Ashton is my point guard, and I’m with him. The one thing I do know, he’ll fight to win a game,” Calipari said.
“He wasn’t great at the end of this game. Very rarely does he make mistakes at the end. Usually he will come up with the ball to steal the rebound to win the game. He didn’t today.”
Calipari talked to Hagans in his office immediately after the game before even speaking to the media and mentioned the silly foul near midcourt late in the game.
“But like I said, he’s fine. I’ll say this about him: He’s not a robot, either. He’ll have bad games. I don’t know of anybody that every once in a while is not going to cop a bad game. It happens,” Calipari said.