Ashton Hagans was the star of Kentucky’s 67-53 win over Georgia Tech. The sophomore point guard had a team-high 21 points off 8-10 from the floor, 2-3 from the three-point line, along with 7 rebounds, 7 assists, and 6 turnovers in 35 minutes.
Georgia Tech head coach Josh Pastner recruited Hagans, a native of the Peach State, and couldn’t stop raving about him in the postgame press conference.
“I think Ashton Hagans has just gotten better and better and better. He’s really good,” Pastner said. “He was a pro out there tonight. He was a first-round draft pick the way he played.“
“He knows what to expect,” Calipari said of the difference in Hagans from last year to this year. “He has no anxiety about what he’s doing when he’s coming into the game. He knows game-planning. He’ll watch tape, He’s so far advanced. Again, there may be better point guards out there. I’d have to watch closely. I mean, the way he is playing — he’s starting to master his skills. He still gets sloppy. He’ll get sloppy both on defense and offense. Sometimes I think he gets bored so he has to try something new. But proud of him.”
The number one thing Hagans needed to improve this season was his shot. Through nine games, he’s hitting 50.0% from the field and 31.6% from three, up from last year’s percentages of 46.7% and 27.5%, respectively. He’s also dishing out seven assists per game compared to last year’s average of 4.3.
“Do you think Ashton fights?” Calipari said. “Yeah. So, what if I had a team full of guys who played with his kind of fight? How does Ashton shoot the ball? But he fights. He’s getting better, though, isn’t he? Making free throws, making some shots.”
Calipari started Immanuel Quickley tonight along with Tyrese Maxey, bringing the number of guards in the lineup to three. He brought the three-guard lineup up not once, but twice in the postgame presser.
“I like the three guards. It was nice to see Tyrese go 0-9 — or did he go 6-10? Oh no, that was Brad [Calipari] that went 6-10 and got 20 [points] today. I’m sorry.”
Ouch for Tyrese, but you know that will earn him points with Ellen tonight.
“Did you know I started three guards?” Cal circled back later. “So, I went with that lineup. Now the problem is it may push Johnny [Juzang] and Kahlil [Whitney] back a little back and I don’t want to do that which is why I wasn’t starting them early but if those three deserve to play together, it is what it is.”