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Want to Beat Kentucky? Shut Down PJ Washington and Tyler Herro from Three


Much of Kentucky’s success this year has come from their ability to spread the wealth. At different times, Reid Travis, Keldon Johnson, Tyler Herro, Ashton Hagans, and PJ Washington have all looked like Kentucky’s best player. With all these guys able to singlehandedly impact a game’s result, the Cats have been able to survive off nights from one, even two of their best players and still win.

Perhaps no two players are as capable of taking over a game than PJ Washington and Tyler Herro. Until last week, it looked as if PJ might overtake Tennessee’s Grant Williams as the SEC player of the year. With ten games of 20 or more points, PJ is still Kentucky’s leading scorer at just a shade under 15 a game. Right behind PJ, Tyler averages 14.1 points a game and has scored 20 or more in five games, including two of the last three.

Both players are having a good year from beyond the arc. Tyler leads the team in three-point makes with 53, and shoots it at a 37.1 percent clip; PJ has made 30 and leads the team in three-point percentage at 43.5 — good enough for second in the SEC. But it doesn’t always feel like these two guys have shot the ball as well from three as their numbers indicate. Why? Because both of them have been inconsistent.

The ups and downs from three for Tyler Herro and PJ Washington are evident, and they have directly correlated with Kentucky’s ups and downs as a team. I’m afraid this might provide a recipe for opposing teams to knock off the Cats in the tournament.

Let’s boil the sample size down to just teams ranked in the top 100 of the NET, as Kentucky likely won’t see a team outside of the top 100 for the rest of the year. Kentucky has played 19 games against top 100 teams, and boasts a solid 14-5 record in those games. PJ has made 21 out of 51 threes in those games; Tyler has made 37 of 98. The two collectively have shot 39 percent from long range against top 100 teams.

But when we break down the wins and losses, it gets interesting. When the two players combine for three or more made three pointers, Kentucky is 11-0, including wins against North Carolina, Louisville, Auburn (twice), and Mississippi St. (twice). When the two combine for two or fewer made threes, Kentucky is only 3-5. All five of Kentucky’s losses have come in games where PJ Washington and Tyler Herro have combined for two or fewer made threes

It gets even more interesting. In Kentucky’s 14 wins against top 100 teams, Tyler and PJ are 51 out of 109 threes — a remarkable 46.8 percent. In our five losses, the two are a combined seven out of 40, an embarrassing 17.5 percent.

I think this is a glass-half-full/glass-half-empty situation. On the bright side, if these guys combine for three or more made threes in a game, it seems like a guaranteed win, no matter the opponent. But if they go cold, we’re likely looking at a loss as early as the second round.

What do you think? Will the guys get hot and run the table, or is our streaky three-point shooting going to get the best of us?

Article written by Taylor Combs

14 responses to “Want to Beat Kentucky? Shut Down PJ Washington and Tyler Herro from Three”

  1. weneedpitino

    Yea all in all they are pretty good shooters, but in my expert opinion if they stick around for 4 years like they should they both will be an unstoppable force in the NBA. Like I say great shooters though when they are on fire. Go cats!!

    1. Slatersamasterbaiter

      You’re not fooling anyone Slater.

    2. DelrayCat

      This is some high-level counter-trolling here my friend…to create a new personal just to troll a troll..lol.

    3. Slatersamasterbaiter

      Thanks Delray, learned it from Slater.

  2. cking

    Sorry but This is a dumb post…
    Almost as dumb as the poster above.

  3. Ranch

    Why post this?

  4. davisfeathers

    if are two best players make shots we will win dang thank u for writing so good i’ll be sad 2see u go when espn comes calling

    1. catsarerunnin

      yeah I agree with you on your post espn is just like this will be sad2

  5. Chacosrule

    Let’s hire more writers to scout and gameplan against us so the other team’s coaches don’t have to.

  6. makeitstop

    I’m glad someone did the work to parse that data. I had been thinking the last few weeks, it really comes down to shooting but this proves it. If u can’t hit the open looks, ur not winning. I know that’s oversimplified and a good look doesn’t happen by accident as most our guys aren’t creating for themselves, so the “selfish” play yields poor shooting percentages. Phil Jackson says “it’s a simple game: on offense, find the open man; on defense, stop the ball.” I bet those bad shooting nights also correlated to poor guard play, violating Jackson’s first rule, and that frustrates the shooters who then try to create and force it. Get good guard play and the shooting should yield at least 3/game from those two.

    1. makeitstop

      Looked at that way it’s not helping scout us it’s emphasizibg what we need to do to fix it. A “Harrison Tweak” would be good about now, and this team starts from a better place than that one did. Hope I’m not becoming over-confident but I just don’t think we are that far away from being the toughest out in the tourney. Just not quite there.

  7. natedaddy

    It’s not lack of 3 pt shooting from PJ or Herro that’s the root cause of our loses. It’s lack of defensive intensity and general inconsistency of everybody on offense.

    Look at the Seton Hall, Bama and LSU loses. We lost by a combined 5 points. We allowed Seton Hall and Bama to shoot better than 40% from 3, and vs LSU, PJ and Herro did about what you’d expect from them. And Tennessee and puke simply whipped our butts in all facets of the game.

    Comparative to the rest of college basketball and on paper, we are absolutely a national championship contender. But on the court, I simply don’t see us consistently playing a high enough level of basketball to knock off 7 consecutive quality opponents to win the championship. We will lose to an inferior opponent in the second round, sweet sixteen or elite 8, because we will go a 10 minute stretch in which we can’t stop anybody on defense, and look like we don’t know what we’re doing on offense, and not be able to overcome it.

    I hope they prove me wrong.

  8. tdogg40330

    7 wins in the NCAA tournament for UK isn’t possible, but good try

  9. BlueWildcat_99

    Next things Taylor will write articles on: sharks swim in water, bears sh*t in the woods, and frogs have water-tight ass’. Consistency has been the MAIN problem all year for us. And it’s not just PJ and Tyler shooting 3’s. Keldon has consistently been inconsistent on offense; Ashton’s defense has gone from incredible, to being a ghost, back to all-American in a 3-game span. If we’re playing our game no one will beat us. But we have to do it consistently!