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Sacha Killeya-Jones earned himself some playing time tonight

The Kentucky Wildcats suffered a tough loss to the Kansas Jayhawks by a final score of 65-61, where the team’s inexperience was magnified on the national stage. Rebounding woes, defensive breakdowns, and shot selection issues were just a few frustrations that led to UK’s third loss to KU in three years.

That being said, there were some big performances from several different Wildcats that should make Kentucky fans thrilled for what’s to come as the season progresses.

One of those big performances? Sophomore forward Sacha Killeya-Jones.

Star freshman Kevin Knox says Killeya-Jones’ hard work in practice has translated into in-game impact for the Wildcats, and increased playing time is almost certain for the big man.

“In practices, he’s been working his butt off, hitting that mid-range shot that he hit tonight,” Knox said. “He’s been hitting that consistently now in practice, rebounding his butt off, playing hard, playing with energy on defense and blocking shots. Like Cal said, if you do it in practice it’s going to translate to the games. Sacha has been playing really well the last two games, and if he keeps it up, I could see him getting a lot more minutes.”

John Calipari told reporters he’s impressed with Killeya-Jones, saying the Kentucky big man is only going to get better as he gets older.

“He’s getting better and better. You have to understand, he was one of the youngest freshman in the country a year ago. He was 17. So he’s 18 years old, basically a freshman.”

Killeya-Jones finished the day with eight points (4-6 from the field) and nine rebounds, including some massive mid-range jumpers to cut the Kansas lead at various points. Coach Cal told reporters he encouraged him to keep taking those shots.

“The shot he made at the foul line because they weren’t playing Nick, I just told him “If you get it there, shoot it.” He said “You want me to shoot that?” Yes I do,” he said.

Kansas coach Bill Self told the media the SKJ jumpers really threw him a curveball.

“I certainly didn’t anticipate him stepping out and making a couple 18-footers,” he said.

Self also gave fans a gentle reminder about just how talented Killeya-Jones, along with the rest of this Wildcat team, truly is.

I could be wrong, but I think they played eight McDonald’s All-Americans tonight. Everybody can play,” said Self. “It didn’t surprise me at all with Sacha.”

And he’s right.

Coming out of high school, Killeya-Jones was a consensus five-star recruit with tremendous upside. He was expected to be a massive difference-maker with his smooth moves on offense and shot-blocking ability in the post. When he got to Kentucky, however, we saw a major adjustment period.

As a freshman, he bobbled the ball around in the post, found himself in foul trouble, and honestly, he was unplayable for the most part.

He told KSR this summer things were starting to click for him, saying his hard work in the offseason has really started to pay off.

Now, his comfort on the court has been impossible to miss, and Killeya-Jones will almost certainly become a focal point of this team going forward.

Article written by Jack Pilgrim

Follow me on Twitter: @JackPilgrimKSR

8 responses to “Sacha Killeya-Jones earned himself some playing time tonight”

  1. chris43

    I know that it ended as a loss BUT with this Young of a team and considering Vanderbilt and Baker are out….I’ll take it! Didn’t really think we’d keep it this close after the first two games considering Kansas has much more experience. I can honestly say that I’m very excited to see this team develop and see what it can become in Feb/March!

  2. NCkatfan

    Now’s the time I wish we had one senior who can shoot like Grayson Allen. Also glad we played Kansas and not Duke or Michigan State… Can you say 92-72?

  3. kjd

    If he wants to be on the floor in crunch time, he has to greatly improve free throw shooting.

    1. BigBlueMeade

      His putback kept us in the game though

  4. Sentient Third Eye

    There were a lot of negatives. These kids often get confused about what they are supposed to be doing, and at times they seem almost religiously-opposed to communicating with each other on the floor. But there are a lot of positive signs, too. Cal’s vision of an imposing defensive team is going to work, I think. Just based on athleticism and length, they largely stymied KU’s offense without even being capable of playing defense remotely well. Imagine who effective it will be in another month when they actually know what they are doing!

  5. Ben27

    I think we have a great opportunity with this years team. They are young, but the potential is through the roof. We cannot have Quade Green (2-7,0-2), Hamidou Diallo (4-11,0-3), PJ Washington (0-3,0-0), Wenyen Gabriel (1-3,0-1) with such terrible production. We cannot afford to have four players with this type of performance! I think this game will show them how much work is ahead of them. Should be a fun year. Duke and Michigan State are going to be hard outs this year. I hope we can get our two players back soon.

  6. Swizzle

    If diallo and Richards are further than 4 feet from the basket. They shouldn’t be shooting

  7. hey_mo

    this post is as clueless as your #9 prediction

    athletes we have

    basketball players we do not have