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Jay Bilas on Kentucky’s growth: “The Duke game was a lifetime ago”

Jay Bilas is in Lexington for Saturday’s Kentucky vs. Kansas matchup, and he met with the media this afternoon to preview the game. But, of course, the first question wasn’t about Kentucky’s chances against the Jayhawks. It was about Duke.

As atrocious as that game was, everyone in America knows Kentucky has improved since then… Including Jay Bilas.

“The Duke game was a lifetime ago. That was an anomaly. It was probably the best Duke’s played and it was the worst Kentucky’s played – a lot of gap in between there,” Bilas said. “[Kentucky] is better defensively; they’re better offensively, too. Tyler Herro is a much better player than he was a month ago. I think they’re on the up-swing.”

That “upswing” has come, for the most part, from Ashton Hagans and his secured spot as the point guard. Hagans’ defensive intensity, ball-handling (and stealing) skills and his communication and leadership changed the dynamic of this Kentucky team. But this isn’t the first time the improvement of a Kentucky point guard has changed a Calipari team’s outlook on their season. For Bilas, Hagans’ contributions mirror those from Shai Gilgeous-Alexander last season.

“Both of them did it with defense first,” Bilas said. “We always talk about guys having ‘breakout games’ and it’s an offensive thing. And yet, Ashton Hagans has had his breakout defensively, and his offense is kind of following that.”

Hagans’ success has been massive in terms of creating team success over the last several games. What does he have to do to keep that momentum going?

“The same thing he’s been doing: pressuring the ball and being disruptive. What Ashton Hagans does is make the opposing point guard think more about him than about running their offense,” Bilas said. “When that happens, it makes Kentucky’s defense better.”


Article written by Maggie Davis

I love sports, podcasts, long walks on the beach and Twitter (@MaggieDavisKSR)

4 Comments for Jay Bilas on Kentucky’s growth: “The Duke game was a lifetime ago”

  1. Wade
    5:32 pm January 25, 2019 Permalink

    That duke game was equivalent to a pitcher in baseball throwing a no hitter. Sometimes it’s just magic in the air! The ball was just rolled out for both teams to showcase new rosters and duke was on fire. I bet if we played duke again now the outcome would come down to the last 5 minutes of the game and we wouldnt just throw in the towel .We are totally different and as much as it pains me too say, Maybe we needed it to be humbled. If we can get #9 its a fair trade off.maybe we can still earn a 1 seed and with a win at Kansas and at least 1 win at Tennessee and them crapping the bed against an inferior team! Maybe we see duke in the final four if k can get them that far! It would be an instant classic and I’m sure what all of us as ky fans reallllly want.

  2. davis2319
    2:33 am January 26, 2019 Permalink

    Duke is a talented squad, but they played out of their ass that night. After that game I jokingly told my dad that Duke peaked too soon. In all honesty it could be true lol. Always love to hear Jay Bilas’ insight, the guy knows the game

  3. Kat4Life
    9:36 am January 26, 2019 Permalink

    Jay is the best in the business