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Kentucky’s diverse scoring could be huge come tournament time: “We’re going to need each other”

What was once used as Kentucky’s greatest flaw could turn in their greatest asset.

At the beginning of the season, Kentucky lacked “that” guy – there isn’t just one individual player on the team who could carry the Wildcats through thick and thin; there is no one in the conversation for the No. 1 pick in the draft. In fact, the player who came in with the highest ranking is EJ Montgomery (No. 9 in the 247Sports Composite class of 2018 rankings), and he doesn’t even start.

But, as the Wildcats are finally hitting their stride in league play, it’s starting to become clear this isn’t a weakness. In fact, Jemarl Baker says it’s actually a “huge advantage” for Kentucky.

“That’s why we’re such a good team and we will be a great team in March as well,” Baker said. “We’re just working hard and if somebody has an off day, we’re ready to go. We have other people that can step up.”

In three of Kentucky’s last four games, four Wildcats have hit double-digit scoring. It wasn’t always the same four players, either. Each game featured a different combination of six different players. PJ Washington is the only one who made the list each time.

Vanderbilt: PJ Washington, Keldon Johnson, Tyler Herro and Nick Richards.

Kansas: PJ Washington, Keldon Johnson, Ashton Hagans, Reid Travis.

Mississippi State: PJ Washington and Tyler Herro.

Auburn: PJ Washington, Keldon Johnson, Tyler Herro and Reid Travis.

It’s a big edge,” EJ Montgomery said of the diverse scoring makeups. “You don’t know who to plan for. Anybody can go out and have that big game.”

It’s interesting – both Baker and Montgomery see the advantage this gives the Cats, but neither Baker nor Montgomery have been included in those double-digit scoring lists. That’s just how John Calipari likes it.

“If someone really has it going, be happy for him,” Calipari said during Friday’s media opportunity. “There’s no other feeling. If we win and you didn’t score, be happy.”

He went on to cite Tuesday’s Vanderbilt game, where the Cats built a massive halftime lead without any scoring contributions from two of Kentucky’s most consistent scorers.

“We were up 30, and Keldon [Johnson] and Reid [Travis] didn’t have a point,” Calipari said. “Are you OK? If we’re going to be a good team, you’ve got to be OK. Numbers don’t matter here.

While that may be a bit of an exaggeration, he does bring up an interesting point. PJ Washington was 0-4 from the 3-point line against Vanderbilt, but “everybody went nuts about how he played.” Tyler Herro went 0-3 from the same spot, but his defense is being praised by Calipari and opposing coaches alike. Nick Richards’ five blocks were massive against Kansas, even though he finished with zero points. And we all know how much Ashton Hagans can do without an incredibly-high shooting percentage. Although the diverse scoring is big for Kentucky, teamwork is even bigger.

When it comes to March, some people might not have a great game,” Baker said. “We’re going to need each other. We’re going to need everybody to play well. We all believe in each other and we’re all confident in each other, as well.”


Article written by Maggie Davis

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

11 Comments for Kentucky’s diverse scoring could be huge come tournament time: “We’re going to need each other”

  1. michaelb
    8:36 pm February 1, 2019 Permalink

    #5 Michigan is about to lose . If That happens & we win sat – we’ll be top 5 (prob 3rd or 4th)

    • Ridge Runner
      5:48 am February 2, 2019 Permalink

      Michael, at least wolverines held up their part… Go Cats Saturday!

  2. michaelb
    8:39 pm February 1, 2019 Permalink

    My fav thing about our team this year is > we play great on the road and / or neutral sites. That’s big . Not a lot of top 25 teams can say that . pretty good leg to stand on for the 2019 big dance . I see us at least making the F4. #Rawr #WeareUk

    • mashburnfan1
      9:55 pm February 1, 2019 Permalink

      not really…lost by a 100 on neutral to dUKe. Lost on neutral to bubble team Seton Hall. Keeping in mind that these “neutral” games are 80% UK fans. Lost at bubble team Bama. Is why Cal won’t play true road games unless forced to in Conf and challenge games. The U6 game is only exception and if they were good he may cancel that like he did the IU series. I would love for us to yearly play IU, WVU, Cincy and maybe West Ky or some other top program {Gonzaga, Michigan, etc} home one year and away the next. Would be more fun than Monmouth and the sorry teams we currently play as home games. Is main reason Rupp is no longer sold out, who wants to see these type teams constantly. Look how much fun Kansas crowd was, or UT in a couple weeks. Should have that 6 to 8 times.

    • az1006
      10:58 pm February 1, 2019 Permalink

      Well, see the games you cited all occurred in the weeks prior to the significant turnaround that we are in the midst of. The Duke game was awful, but an outlier. We couldn’t play worse, they couldn’t play better, and we are so much better now than we were then, we hardly even resemble the same team. As for Seton Hall and Bama…Well, we are still one make or one miss away from being 19-1. If you’re upset with that, then I don’t really know what to tell you. Maybe stop watching the games. Get a hobby.

    • unbridled
      10:03 pm February 1, 2019 Permalink

      Mash burn….you need to try harder and up your troll game. It’s pretty pathetic at this point. If you can’t follow the progression from point “A” to point “B,” you are a special kind of stupid. The cats have yet to even approach their ceiling.

    • CATandMONKEY
      10:20 pm February 1, 2019 Permalink

      Despite being a long time season ticket holder, Mash can hardly be considered a ‘fan”.

    • 4everUKblue
      8:17 am February 2, 2019 Permalink

      mashburn the dUKe fan is back. I suspect you’re really BigoldSlaterMedic, you have about as much intelligence as him. Anyone with deep pockets can be season ticket holder, that does not make you a fan, you’re taking up a seat a real fan should be sitting in.

  3. unbridled
    10:04 pm February 1, 2019 Permalink

    Regardless, diversified scoring and the overall depth of talent on the UK squad is defitnely encouraging. If the cats continue to improve (which is a good assumption they will) they most certainly will make a deep run in the tournament

  4. Ridge Runner
    3:14 am February 2, 2019 Permalink

    I agree with this “anyone can score” as a strength. In fact, the question of who would be the go to guy earlier in the year isn’t relevant in my opinion. There’s many go to guys.

  5. IrishCat
    9:44 am February 2, 2019 Permalink

    We are definitely playing more and more like a modern NBA team offensively. Our passes are snappy and we’re making the defense work. Whoever gets the hot hand can be our leading scorer, and anybody who works hard for position can get some buckets when we’re moving the ball like we are. I think it’s beautiful basketball.