Coming in to last night, Ashton Hagans was in a bit of a slump, totaling 18 turnovers to 18 assists over the last four games. After getting into foul trouble in the first half in Nashville, Hagans came out in the second half and led the Cats to the comeback win, finishing just two assists shy of a triple double. According to John Calipari, he may have gotten it if not for some cramping late in the game.
“Ashton, if you’re wondering why I called a full timeout with two minutes to go, he was cramping. I said, ‘If I have to burn another one I will because I’m not taking you out.’ So he laughed and said, ‘I’ll be alright.’ But he has an air about him that the other guys feed off of. And he makes the other guys confident. He does.”
“I was just trying to go out there and be aggressive,” Hagans said of his nine-point, five-rebound, six-assist, zero-turnover performance in the second half. “I picked up two fouls in the first and left my team out there. We had a few mistakes in the first half. We came out these and fixed them in the second half.”
Calipari has been harping on Hagans to play with more discipline, and last night, he did, committing only one turnover, an errant pass in the first minute of the game.
“I’m going to take the blame on that one,” Hagans said of his lone turnover. “But it’s always going to be something. I can’t really say too much, I just try to — last game I think I had like six, five, something like that. I was just trying to, after that one turnover, not force anything else and just trying to let the game come to me.”
“The whole thing with him is being disciplined as you play so you’re not trying to do crazy stuff because you’re disciplined and you’re focused,” Calipari said. “He’s had a lot of turnovers the last five games. Well, prior to that he hadn’t had hardly any. So what’s the difference? You changed as a player? You’ve changed how you’re thinking. You’re doing crazy stuff instead of what’s easy. How do I stay focused and disciplined?
“But what he is physically, they know fighting screens — did you see him push Nick (Richards) out to the corner on that guy? He two-hand chucked him. Nick went flying because the guy was going to the corner and was going to be open. (Ashton) just pushed him. That’s the kind of stuff. No one gets mad. But I’m proud of him. Shooting the ball better, scoring the ball better, making better decisions. It’s a good time of the year for us to do that.”