Larry Vaught

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Maci Morris chosen for WBCA’s So You Want To Be A Coach program

Maci Morris (Vicky Graff Photo)

LEXINGTON, Ky. – University of Kentucky senior guard Maci Morris has been selected for the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association’s prestigious So You Want To Be A Coach program. Morris along with several other WBCA sponsored student-athletes will participate in a three-day workshop with speakers provided by WeCOACH on April 3-5 in conjunction with the WBCA Convention in Tampa Bay, Fla.

Kentucky-Mississippi State Photo Gallery by Vicky Graff

Calipari never worried about emotional letdown against State

Keldon Johnson (Vicky Graff Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

Assistant coach Tony Barbee insisted Monday that facing No. 22 Mississippi State Tuesday night after a win over Auburn last week and before facing Kansas in a national showdown Saturday was not a trap game for the Wildcats, who blasted the Bulldogs 77-66.

So how concerned was UK coach John Calipari about UK’s emotional focus for Mississippi State?

“Every game we play, there’s emotion to it, so it’s a different feel for this program. Because whether it’s at Auburn or at Vanderbilt, they are all sold out and it’s a huge game, and so, we need to be more steady in how we do this, and we are,” Calipari said.

Tyler Herro on PJ Washington: “He’s one of the best players in the country.” (Larry Vaught/Verizon Video)

EJ Montgomery shows signs he’s ready to “break through”

EJ Montgomery (Jeff Houchin Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

The numbers seem nice, but not nearly impactful enough to have Kentucky coach John Calipari beaming about freshman EJ Montgomery the way he was after Tuesday night’s 76-55 win over No. 22 Mississippi State in Rupp Arena.

Montgomery was 2-for-5 from the field — and finally hit a 3-point shot. He also had a blocked shot at a key time, two rebounds and one steal in 13 minutes.

“Obviously he’s a good shooter. Just doesn’t look like it so far.  It’s the first one he made all year. It’s good that you made one finally,” Calipari said.

UK-Mississippi State postgame notes, numbers

Tyler Herro (Vicky Graff Photo)

UK MEN’S BASKETBALL POSTGAME NOTES
KENTUCKY vs. MISSISSIPPI STATE
RUPP ARENA | LEXINGTON, KY.
JAN. 22, 2019
ATTENDANCE: 21,449

Final Score: #8/9 Kentucky 76, #22 Mississippi State 55

Team Records and Series Notes
Kentucky won its fifth in a row and is 15-3 overall, 5-1 in the Southeastern Conference. Mississippi State is 14-4, 2-3 in the SEC.
Kentucky leads the series 96-20 but has a slim 5-4 lead when both teams are ranked.
UK has won 12 in a row overall vs. the Bulldogs.
Next for Kentucky: the Wildcats play their final nonconference game of the regular season Saturday by hosting Kansas at 6 p.m. The game will be televised on ESPN or ESPN2.
Rupp Arena will be the site for the popular ESPN College GameDay Show on Saturday from 11 a.m. to noon. Gates open at 9 a.m.

PJ Washington, Tyler Herro lead UK over Mississippi State

P.J. Washington (Vicky Graff Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

Kentucky used an 18-2 run early in the first half to built a 14-point lead and then basically did what it needed the rest of the way to beat No. 22 Mississippi State 76-55 Tuesday night for its fifth straight Southeastern Conference victory.

Sophomore PJ Washington overcame his own shaky offensive start — including a missed two-handed dunk — to lead UK with 21 points on 9-for-15 shooting (indulging 3-for-5 on 3-pointers), six rebounds and a career-high four blocked shots in 27 minutes. It was his third 20-point game of the season.

Ashton Hags Naismith Defensive Player of Year candidate

Ashton Hagans

ATLANTA – Ashton Hagans’ meteoric rise over the last month that began on the defensive end has lofted him into the conversation for the Naismith Defensive Player of the Year award.

Hagans was one of 15 players to appear on the Atlanta Tipoff Club’s midseason watch list on Tuesday. The list includes players whose defensive efforts on the court have set them apart from the pack.

The 6-foot-3 guard out of Cartersville, Georgia, is one of just two freshmen (Zion Williamson, Duke) on the midseason watch list and one of only two players from the Southeastern Conference (Grant Williams, Tennessee).

Numbers favor Kentucky by 9 points

John Calipari and Immanuel Quickley (Vicky Graff Photo)

By RICHARD CHEEKS, Contributing Writer

Kentucky completed a successful road swing through Athens, Georgia and Auburn, Alabama with two impressive wins. After taking the DAWGS apart by 20, the Cats took down #10 Auburn by 2, handing Auburn their first home loss in quite some time.

These two games, however, are becoming the rule for this team rather than the rare exception. After the Seton Hall loss, the team had an ANE of 0.155 ppp, but in the since that 2 point loss to Seton Hall in overtime, this team has played 8 games with an average ANE of 0.336 ppp, and the quality of play over the last week has been above 0.41ppp for both games. This level of efficiency is sufficient to place this team in the hunt, come March.

PJ Washington: “We like playing good people.”

PJ Washington (Vicky Graff Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

Kentucky plays the second of three straight games against ranked teams tonight when it hosts No. 22 Mississippi State trying to extend its four-game SEC winning streak.

“I feel like in the bigger games we want it more,” said Kentucky sophomore PJ Washington. “We want to go out and play tougher opponents. I feel like everybody’s more excited when we play better teams. We like playing good people.