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.

Arkansas was “emergency situation” that dictated UK going to zone defense

Immanuel Quickley applies the defensive pressure against Arkansas. (Vicky Graff Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

John Calipari’s ejection at Arkansas got a lot of attention and praise for sparking Kentucky’s dominant play the final seven minutes to beat the host Razorbacks.

But don’t forget the role going to a zone defense after the ejection played. It shut down Arkansas’ penetrating and either scoring and getting to the foul line.

Did Calipari like what the zone defense did?

Keion Brooks Jr. glad teammates, coaches kept “believing in me”

Keion Brooks Jr. (Vicky Graff Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

After Keion Brooks Jr. scored 10 points, pulled off seven rebounds and played well in the closing minutes of Saturday’s win at Arkansas, Kentucky assistant coach Kenny Payne said the freshman passed a major test.

Brooks admitted Monday that it did help his confidence but also did one more important thing by getting his teammates “to believe in me to get things done” because of what he did against Arkansas.

Kentucky will have “same game plan” for Georgia and sensational freshman Anthony Edwards

EJ Montgomery will try to keep Anthony Edwards away from the basket again Tuesday night. (Vicky Graff Photo)

By KEITH TAYLOR, Kentucky Today

LEXINGTON — Ashton Hagans doesn’t think much will change when Kentucky takes on Georgia for the second time this season Tuesday night at Rupp Arena.

“It was good to be back at home, but now we’re back in Lexington playing them,” said Hagans, a former Georgia Mr. Basketball and Gatorade Player of the Year winner. “It’s the same game plan. We just go out there and play our game, stick together and try to get the win.”

Tony Barbee says it is “easy for officials to see and call” fouls on UK because of way Cats are playing

Kentucky has been called for 52 fouls in its last two games, a number assistant coach Tony Barbee says may not be high considering how UK has played. (Vicky Graff Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

Kentucky got called for 26 fouls in games at South Carolina and Arkansas last week and those high numbers probably played a significant part in UK coach John Calipari getting ejected in the second half at Arkansas Saturday.

However, Kentucky assistant coach Tony Barbee said today that UK did a “lot of fouling” in both games.

Cats better embrace pivotal minutes at end of game

Tyrese Maxey (Vicky Graff Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

Kentucky has lost four games by a total of 15 points, including a 3-point loss at South Carolina for its only blemish in Southeastern Conference play going into Tuesday  night’s home game against Georgia.

But the Cats had to come from behind in the final eight minutes to win 73-66 at Arkansas Saturday. They had to rally in the second half to win 78-69 at Georgia. They had to hold off Alabama in Rupp Arena 76-67. The only double-digit win came by 12 points against Missouri in Rupp Arena to open SEC play.

Freshman Keion Brooks Jr. doesn’t mind having Kenny Payne “in my ear a lot”

Keion Brooks Jr. (Vicky Graff Photo)

By KEITH TAYLOR, Kentucky Today

LEXINGTON — Keion Brooks Jr. passed a major test during Kentucky’s 73-66 win over Arkansas Saturday in Fayetteville.

Brooks scored 10 points — the most since he tallied 10 in Kentucky’s 67-53 win over Georgia Tech on Dec. 14 at Rupp Arena. Brooks also added seven rebounds against the Razorbacks, marking the second straight game he has collected seven boards.

Kentucky associate head coach Kenny Payne is one of Brooks’ biggest supporters and the freshman forward has taken a liking to Payne’s coaching, especially in practice.

Kentucky got in the right zone to rally past Arkansas

Kenny Payne, left, put UK in a zone defense after John Calipari got ejected Saturday. (Vicky Graff Photo)

By KEITH PEEL, Contributing Writer

Kentucky was in a zone. Figuratively and literally. And that was the turning point of Kentucky’s heart-pounding 73-66 road victory in sold-out Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville.

With about 8 minutes to go in the game, after Kentucky had led much of the way, EJ Montgomery was called for a questionable illegal screen that gave him his fourth foul. Coach John Calipari immediately came out of the coach’s box to argue the call with SEC referee Anthony Jordan.

Justin Haddix leaving Corbin for Boyle County to face expectations Chuck Smith left behind

By LARRY VAUGHT

Boyle County has its new football coach — Justin Haddix.

The former Breathitt County and Western Kentucky quarterback was announced as the new Boyle coach Sunday after he sent a text message to his current players at Corbin letting them know he was leaving.

Haddix spent the last six years at Corbin and went 64-18, including a 17-6 mark in postseason player. He got Corbin into the state title game twice but lost to Central 20-19 in 2018 after beating Boyle in the state semifinals and lost to Boyle 40-21 in the 2017 title game. That was Corbin’s first appearance in the state championship game since 2002.

Kentucky-Arkansas photo gallery by Vicky Graff