PJ Washington scored 23 points in Kentucky’s win at Mississippi State, but it wasn’t enough to impress his head coach. John Calipari actually said his star forward took a step back in how he played down in Starkville.
Calipari said, “I think he’s the best player in the country, but not like he played today. Doesn’t go get rebounds, doesn’t get loose balls, missed one-footers, missed every free throw — what? Come on. If you’re the best, play that way. Come out with great energy, a motor. It’s not about made shots, it’s about how to play.
He said Washington “reverted” against the Bulldogs, noting that Washington had only three rebounds, his lowest rebound total since the Utah game in mid-December. Cal also called him out for fouling out and missing two key free throws down the stretch in a tight game.
If you think he is being a little hard on Washington with his criticism following a 23-point performance, Cal wants you to know it’s what he does.
“My job is to get them to be uncomfortable, to make themselves uncomfortable, so they play comfortable when they’re uncomfortable,” he said. (That’s a tongue-twister.)
It sounds like his postgame comments were said to light a fire under Washington, “the best player in the country.”