Winning on the road isn’t easy. It’s really hard when your two most important players turn in their worst performances of the season.
Both Ashton Hagans and Nick Richards struggled vs. Auburn, combining for only 12 of Kentucky’s 66 points. Hagans had a particularly rough night, finishing with five points, six turnovers, and three assists before fouling out after 21 minutes. His streak of games with five or more assists is snapped at 17.
“Struggled,” John Calipari said when asked about Hagans. “Struggled. I don’t know. You can ask him. Struggled. Struggled. It’s hard. Tyrese [Maxey] isn’t ready to lead a team yet. Possessions matter. They really do.”
For the first time since Kentucky’s doubleheader in Las Vegas, Nick Richards did not play well, finishing with seven points (3-8 FG, 1-2 FT) and seven rebounds in 38 minutes. As Calipari said, Austin Wiley owned the post, putting up 12 points (4-6 FG) and 10 rebounds in only 18 minutes due to foul trouble.
“[Austin] Wiley just had a field day on Nick [Richards] and not many people have done that to Nick, but he did,” Cal said.
Richards will face another physical big man in Mississippi State’s Reggie Perry on Tuesday night. Both he and Hagans need to forget this performance fast in order to regroup for a battle with the Bulldogs, who are coming off back-to-back wins over Florida and Tennessee.
“There’s nothing that I can do,” Cal said of Richards. “It’s him. Now, why did you not jump for balls? Why did you not hit first? Why did you get outworked to everything? Tell us why and whatever your answer is, fix it. Because that’s what happened. [Wiley] wanted it first and you wanted it — why? What was your mindset? Were you thinking wrong, do you have an arrogance to you? I don’t know. Whatever it is, you’ve got to change.”
“Ashton, why did you play that way? If you want to say it was their team and I got outworked, okay, that could be the answer.”
Kentucky led by five with just under nine minutes to go, but once again, allowed momentum to swing in the opposite direction.
“We just have guys that don’t know how to put — we get ten-point leads multiple times this year and we just gave it up and did it quickly,” Cal said. “Within a minute. We’ve got stuff to learn. All of a sudden, it’s a two-point game. So we’ve got stuff to learn.”
Of the many egregious stats tonight, Kentucky’s eight assists to twelve turnovers is up there. For a team that has three guards on the floor most of the time, the sloppy play is especially frustrating.
“I don’t know because we’ve got three point guards on the floor and I don’t understand when you have three point guards how you make bad decisions. And some of its on both ends.”
“Here’s what I said after: We all had a bad day,” Cal said. “Me included.”
On to the next one.