Ashton Hagans is one of UK’s most-consistent forces this season, averaging 12.9 points and a conference-best seven rebounds per game. Against Alabama, he almost delivered a triple double. Hagans finished the game with 15 points (4-10 from the floor; 1-2 from behind-the-arc), while adding nine rebounds and nine assists. He was so close.
After the game, Kentucky’s point guard admitted to keeping track of his progress throughout the matchup. Who wouldn’t?
“I did. I kept looking up a few times just to see where I was at,” Hagans laughed. “But I was just trying to get in the lane and create for other guys and try to get this win.”
Hagans certainly helped lead his team to Saturday’s win. He was the team’s second-leading scorer, just behind Immanuel Quickley and his 19 points. He grabbed three steals while playing a team-high 36 minutes. In fact, Hagans is the first player in the Calipari era to have at least 15 points, nine rebounds, nine assists and three steals in a single game. He would have been just the third player to notch a triple-double in the Calipari era – De’Aaron Fox and Isaiah Brisocoe both did so in 2016.
Still, it wasn’t enough for John Calipari, who said he “wasn’t happy with Ashton” Saturday.
“See, I think Ashton’s the best point guard in the country,” Calipari said for approximately the 241st time this season. “He is a tough defender, his pick-and-roll defense, he’ll rebound, he can get in the lane, he has a good twitch… And he’s shooting the ball better. But I didn’t think he brought it to that level.”
Calipari says he didn’t mean that as harsh criticism. Instead, Hagans should take it as a compliment.
“He’s 15-9-9, almost a triple-double. I said, ‘That’s how much I think of you. You’re a triple-double, and I’m saying you’re better,'” Calipari said regarding his post-game conversation with his point guard. “You’re still undisciplined both offensively and defensively. You make four or five plays a half that hurt our team, and only because of discipline.”
Hagans got the message.
“It makes me feel a lot better. Just knowing that I could have had a triple double and then hearing my coach say I could have done even better. That just shows that he has a lot of faith in me. He trusts the ball in my hand and he’ll let me do anything to help get this team a win.”
— Immanuel Quickley (@IQ_GodSon) January 11, 2020
But it wasn’t just Hagans’ on-court performance during the game – Calipari was worried about his outing before the matchup even tipped-off at noon. Apparently, Ashton Hagans is not a morning person.
“8:00, that was a struggle. I’m just playing, it wasn’t bad. But we did have to wake up at 7:30, and that was bad,” Hagans laughed. “But we got up and got some shots in and got going.”
“Normally we don’t shoot around, but I made him shoot around this morning because I wasn’t… there was just a gut feeling like if he ain’t ready, I see Evansville all over,” Calipari said. “He didn’t play that game. But you know, he’s getting better.”
Kentucky’s next game will be a road matchup against South Carolina. Luckily for Ashton Hagans, tip-off isn’t schedule until 6:30 p.m.