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Basketball Season Coverage

LISTEN: Relive Kentucky’s win over Tennessee with the KSR Postgame Show

If you missed last night’s post-game show (hey, an 8 p.m. tip is pretty late!), don’t worry! We’ve got you covered. Matt’s KSR Postgame Show is now available on podcast. Listen here to get all of the reactions from Kentucky’s big win over No. 1 Tennessee, including your calls.

Cats by 17.

Today on KSR: Big Second Half leads Cats to big win over Tennessee

Today on KSR: Big Second Half leads Cats to big win over Tennessee

Wow. Quite possibly the only word I can use to describe last night’s performance. Kentucky opened up the second half on a 14-0 en route to an 86-69 win over #1 Tennessee. Now for the stories to start your Sunday morning:

PJ Washington continues to roll

As Jay Bilas said during the second half, PJ Washington has flipped a switch over the last ten or so games and has been playing better than anyone in the country.

The UK sophomore finished with 23 points on 9/11 shooting while also pulling down 5 rebounds. Washington paced the Cats in the first few minutes of the game by scoring their first 7 points. Much of this team’s success over the past month and a half has been due to the emergence of the player that we all thought Washington could be.

If he keeps this up, and helps lead Kentucky to a deep run in March, he very easily could be looking at getting himself in to being a lottery pick; something that he desperately wants and it shows.

Herro on the Glass

One of the more surprising stats from the victory was Tyler Herro’s rebounding total. The Wisconsin native finished the game with a career high 13 rebounds which was 5 higher than the next highest total on either team.

While this is not something he will need to do every game, just showing that he has the ability to do so is something that should scare teams across the nation.

The stat was also impressive for this point:

And it gets better:

Ashton Hagans returns to form

For about the last five or so games, Ashton Hagans has not been the same player that he was since the Utah game. Last night, he got back on the right track with an excellent performance. Although only having two steals, Hagans finished with 9 points and 7 assists and more importantly only 1 turnover.

Everyone of Cal’s elite teams have had good point guards. When the point guard struggles, the team usually will as well. Hagans is extremely important to the success of this team come March and if he turns in similar performances to last night, we could be in for a fun ride.

Student becomes Legend after hitting half court shot on Gameday

One of the more popular College Gameday segments is when they give a student a chance to hit a half court shot for a chance to win X amount of money.

Kentucky has never had a student hit the shot… until yesterday.

Yeah, the language is maybe a little NSFW, but hey, if I just won $19,000 I’d probably act the same way and I am sure you would too.

Multiple Former Cats return to Rupp

With it being the NBA All Star break, multiple former Cats made their way to Rupp Arena to take in the big game. Players like Alex Poythress, Isaac Humphries, Kevin Knox, and Wenyen Gabriel all were in attendance and served as the honorary “Y.”

Knox was interviewed during the game and spoke about how Cal “put him out of his comfort zone,” which in turn helped make him a top 10 pick.

Hamidou Diallo wins NBA Slam Dunk Contest

Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

One player that was not in Lexington for last night’s game was Hamidou Diallo. The former Cat was competing in the popular NBA Slam Dunk contest that saw him take home the top prize!

The dunk that everyone is talking about is this one… it still leaves me speechless.

Here is the champ:

Hope you enjoy your Sunday. It is definitely a GREAT day to be Wildcat!

Kentucky sends statement with thumping of No. 1 Tennessee

Kentucky sends statement with thumping of No. 1 Tennessee

There are wins and then there are WINS. We knew No. 1 Tennessee coming to town would inspire Kentucky’s best effort and an electric atmosphere at Rupp Arena, but I’m not sure any of us expected a 17-point thumping. On the taped up shoulders of PJ Washington, Kentucky soared to an 86-69 win over Tennessee tonight, the biggest win over a No. 1 ranked team in program history.

The victory not only proved that Kentucky is a legitimate national title contender, it reestablished a pecking order in the SEC that had gone a bit awry. That “Orange is the new Blue” narrative ESPN’s been pushing? PJ Washington swatted it to the rafters along with Tennessee’s 19-game winning streak.

Let’s talk about it because, if you’re a Kentucky fan, there’s nothing more you’d rather do.

PJ Washington led the way

We knew from the first half of last year’s game in Knoxville that PJ Washington was capable of shutting down Grant Williams. Cramps robbed PJ of the second half of that game, but tonight, he was a machine, scoring 23 points off 9-12 from the floor and anchoring Kentucky’s offense. Last year, Williams admitted that PJ got into his head, and PJ did it again tonight, having his way with Tennessee’s bigs. When the ball was in his hands, PJ could not be stopped, and spurred his teammates to do the same.

One more thing PJ swatted to the rafters: the narrative that Kentucky players who aren’t one-and-dones are failures. PJ was projected to be a first-round pick last year, but by returning to school and working on his game, he’s inching into lottery territory. As Calipari constantly says, when PJ plays like this, he’s among the best in the country.

Reid did what he came here to do

Last year, Calipari complained that Tennessee’s players pushed his guys around, but tonight, the roles were reversed. The Cats owned the middle with 36 points in the paint to Tennessee’s 20 and winning the rebounding battle 39 to 26 in large part because of Reid Travis. Reid finished with 11 points and 8 rebounds, a stat line that doesn’t begin to describe his impact on the game. This is the game Reid was brought here for, and because of him, Kentucky was the most physical team on the floor. After the game, Cal said Reid battled so hard he had to get an IV in the locker room.

“The difference maker in the game for us was Travis,” Calipari said. “Now his numbers, 11 and 8, and you can say what you want, but he was a beast against another beast. Like it negated that. You’re not going to dominate us.”

Ashton Hagans bounced back

Kentucky’s dominance in the post was crucial tonight, but the matchup of the game was Jordan Bone vs. Ashton Hagans. The freshman busted out of his slump in a big way, finishing with nine points, seven assists, and only one turnover in 36 minutes. January Ashton is back, and as a result, the Cats fired on all cylinders, moving the ball crisply and controlling the tempo while holding the Vols to 28 percent from three.

“Ashton today played like he had been playing,” Cal said, telling reporters how he had the team look at tape of Hagans’ performance vs. North Carolina to remind them how great he can be. “For two games he went downhill and then it affected us the last game. And in this game he came back.”

Tyler Herro was fantastic

If you had to guess which player finished tonight’s game with a double-double, would you guess Tyler Herro? Probably not, but Herro was fantastic tonight, scoring 15 points and grabbing 13 rebounds. Herro’s still struggling a bit with his shot at Rupp, hitting only 3-11 from the floor, but continues to do all the other things to help his team win, such as skying for rebounds and diving after balls. He played so well I’ll forgive his first missed free throw since the North Carolina game.

Welcome back, Keldon Johnson

For Kentucky to beat Tennessee, they needed a huge game from Keldon Johnson; the freshman delivered in thrilling fashion, doing his best Tayshaun Prince impression with three big threes in the first half. It hasn’t been an easy month for Keldon, but he proved he’s worthy of the spotlight, finishing with 19 points. Build on that, Keldon.

Nothing motivates like a loss

Did Kentucky overlook LSU? That seems like a crazy thing to say about the No. 19 team in the country, but with No. 1 Tennessee coming in, John Calipari said a loss to the Tigers was exactly what his team needed to refocus.

“I hit them right after the game with LSU and just said, hey, that was a tough loss, but you know what, we needed it. Because our team is changing, we’re not the defensive team that we have been. We have individuals changing how they were playing when they were successful. We need to get it back. We need to go back to what we were, and you know what, sometimes you got to get knocked in the head to know that. So the loss to LSU probably helped us win this game.”

If you had to choose between wins over LSU or Tennessee, which would you pick? Thought so.

All is right in the world again

It’s not every day that Kentucky hosts the No. 1 team in the country. The last time it happened was 2007, an 86-77 loss to North Carolina. The Cats’ last win over a No. 1 team? 2011 vs. Ohio State in the NCAA Tournament. So, today was big. From College GameDay in Memorial Coliseum to a late tip in Rupp, the lead up to the top five showdown with Tennessee was exhilarating, but exhausting.

That’s why it was so great that the Cats came out and stomped the Vols, the exclamation mark the fan base has been begging for. On nights like tonight, Kentucky Basketball can’t be beat, a stroke of reassurance as we head into the final stretch of the season.

Tyler Herro was huge for Kentucky, and it’s only partially-reflected on his stat sheet

What a night for Tyler Herro. The freshman guard was solid from start to finish and was steady across the board. Yes, he finished with 15 points, but his biggest contribution came from the sheer energy he brought to the court. His defense was consistently strong throughout his 32 minutes of action.

While “hustle” typically can’t be fully represented on a stat line, it can definitely be seen in a player’s rebounding numbers. Herro finished with an astonishing 13 rebounds, good for a career-high for Herro and a game-high for the team.

“I’m happy for Tyler – this is a big game for Tyler,” Calipari said after the game. “Forget about baskets made and all that – it was a big game. He got 13 rebounds.”

That magic number 13 was Herro’s best performance of the season by far. His previous record was nine boards, which came against Duke way back in November. On the season, Herro’s averaging around four rebounds per game, but Coach Cal said effort made the difference Saturday night.

“If you don’t attempt to rebound, you’re not going to get the rebound,” Calipari said. “How about that? We’re charting attempts to get guys to go make an effort to go get them.”

According to Calipari, the Kentucky staff keeps track of how many rebounds (offensive and defensive) each player attempts, in addition to how many they actually pull in per game. Sometimes in the past, they’ve seen players’ attempts go down as their point totals go up, specifically citing PJ Washington and Keldon Johnson. But Calipari seemed happy with Herro’s “attempt percentage” tonight.

“He was fighting for balls. It was a good effort.”

The best part? It looked like Herro was having an absolute ball. Notorious for embracing the villain role on the road, Herro found a way to be himself inside Rupp Arena. He only drained one three-point bucket, but, as per usual, it came at a big moment. He was trash talking the other team, clapping in their faces and diving on the floor. He finished 8-9 from the free-throw line, his first miss since the North Carolina game on Dec. 22, and he was genuinely upset about it after the game. After making 30 straight free throws, that one will bug him. But it didn’t take away from the joy of this win.

At one point in the game, he literally skipped to the bench. By the end of the game, he was having so much fun, he basically ran to the free-throw line with a big grin plastered on his face. He beat the rest of the court there by several seconds, just waiting for his chance to clinch his first double-double as a Wildcat.

Beating the No. 1 team in the nation is incredibly fun, and Tyler Herro showed it.

LIVE: John Calipari recaps the win

Tune in now to hear John Calipari’s comments following Kentucky’s win over Tennessee.

At The Half: Kentucky 37, Tennessee 31

At The Half: Kentucky 37, Tennessee 31

Kentucky leads top-ranked Tennessee through 20 minutes of basketball in Rupp Arena. PJ Washington and Keldon Johnson have done most of the scoring for the Cats; they’ve combined for 26 of Kentucky’s 37 points with 13 apiece. Tyler Herro is the leading rebounder with four so far. Go Cats.

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WATCH: John Calipari, Keldon Johnson, and EJ Montgomery preview Tennessee

Looking for a last-minute basketball fix before No. 5 Kentucky takes on No. 1 Tennessee? Look no further.

Yesterday afternoon, Kentucky head coach John Calipari, forward Keldon Johnson, and forward EJ Montgomery talked to the media to break down all things Tennessee and close the door on LSU.

Calipari discussed Tennessee’s physicality and overall talent:

Keldon Johnson talked about moving on from LSU and how excited he is to take on the Volunteers:

EJ Montgomery talked about the toughness of the Tennessee frontcourt and why working against PJ Washington and Reid Travis every day in practice has helped him prepare for tonight: