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KSR’s Best and Worst of the Win over Utah Valley

With only seven scholarship players available due to injuries, Kentucky narrowly avoided a second straight loss, beating Utah Valley 82-74. We’ve covered the major takeaways, but here are the best and worst moments in the eyes of the KSR crew.

BEST: Ashton Hagans played like a second-year star

After starting the year with 25 total points in three games, sophomore guard Ashton Hagans managed a career-high 26 points on 7-14 shooting to go with five rebounds, five assists, and one steal. More importantly, though, the Cartersville, GA native finished the day 12-12 from the line, including numerous clutch makes in crunch time.

After a slow start looking a bit hobbled – John Calipari claimed he was playing at just 80% – Hagans made an effort to attack the basket and initiate contact to go to the line when the team needed points. The aggressiveness and physicality is something the Wildcats will continue to need moving forward.

— Jack Pilgrim

BEST: Nick Richards’ third career double-double

Ashton Hagans’ career high in points and 10-for-10 shooting at the line may be the best thing you saw Monday night, but my MVP award goes to Nick Richards. Richards notched his third career double-double with 21 points and 10 rebounds. That’s two double-doubles in his last three games, for those scoring at home.

Now will he take a step back or keep it up?

— Drew Franklin

WORST: Three-Point Shooting (Again)

I think we’ve listed three-point shooting as a “Worst” in each of these columns, but Kentucky’s woes from the outside continued tonight. The Cats were 1-12 from three for a scorching 8.3%, the lone trey coming from Tyrese Maxey, who was 1-5 from behind the arc and 4-14 from the field overall. Calipari likes to joke that his team has shooters, not makers, but this isn’t really funny anymore.

— Tyler Thompson

BEST: Calipari saying Nick Richards is best shooter on the team

“Nick, may be not a three-point shooter,” Calipari said after the game, “but he may be, are you ready for this, folks? Our best shooter. When you get him at 12 feet, he makes those shots. He may be our best — so now we’re saying, okay, let’s get him to 12 feet, let’s do stuff to get him to an elbow. You saw the short corner shots he’s taking. It’s what we want him to do because he’s good.”

And you thought I had crazy high praise for Nick!

— Drew Franklin

WORST: Turnovers

Kentucky struggled to hold onto the ball against Utah Valley. So much so, in fact, the Cats had twice the amount of turnovers as the Wolverines; UK had 14 turnovers to UVU’s seven. Hagans had six turnovers in 37 minutes, while Nate Sestina added three in 34 minutes.

Luckily for the Cats, Utah Valley struggled to turn those mistakes into points. The Wolverines scored just 11 points off of UK’s 14 turnovers, while Kentucky scored eight points off Utah Valley’s seven mistakes. Those numbers are “fine” for a close win over an inferior team, but Kentucky will have to become more efficient in that department come December and into conference play.

— Maggie Davis

BEST: Free Throws

The Cats went 17-for-19 in the second half and 31-for-34 on the night from the free-throw line, good for a grand total of 91.2 percent. Without that level of success at the charity stripe, Kentucky could very well have earned another “L” this season. Hagans was dominant from the free-throw line, finishing the night a perfect 12-for-12. Three other Wildcats were also flawless from the line: Nick Richards (5-for-5), Nate Sestina (4-for-4) and Johnny Juzang (4-for-4).

As Calipari said after the game, “We had to come back and make free throws, which we did.”

And thank goodness they did.

— Maggie Davis

WORST: Nobody was there to see it

Fan interest was down yet again, in part because it was a Monday night, but also because fans aren’t interested in watching Kentucky meet Utah Valley fresh off a loss to Evansville. Tickets were on the secondary market for as low as three dollars apiece before the game. THREE DOLLARS! You can even buy Kentucky basketball tickets on Groupon now! And even those didn’t sell…

Gone are the days of needing to know somebody who knows somebody who knows somebody to get into Rupp Arena for a game. You can get tickets now for the price of a cup of coffee if you just want to catch one of the early weeknighters.

— Drew Franklin

GOOD JOB, GOOD EFFORT: Evansville’s troll game

Photo: @chadlindskog

Evansville deserves a victory lap following last week’s upset, and I think the “Coach Cal Cam” they debuted tonight vs. SMU is genuinely funny; however, it’s also funny that they used it while losing, and ultimately lost 59-57. Karma?

— Tyler Thompson

Best…? Maybe worst…? Tom Hart’s “WAC off” call

Midway through the first half, KSR’s favorite commentator Tom Hart had himself quite the interesting call on the ESPN2 broadcast.

“This would be the biggest win in Utah Valley history,” he said. “They were a junior college until 2003, now part of the WAC [conference]. Now they’re trying to “WAC” off Kentucky at Rupp Arena.”

Hm. Interesting way to put it there, Tom.

(By the way, WAC stands for Western Athletic Conference. Just in case you were curious)

— Jack Pilgrim


Article written by Mrs. Tyler Thompson

No, I will not make you a sandwich, but you can follow me on Twitter @MrsTylerKSR or email me.

47 Comments for KSR’s Best and Worst of the Win over Utah Valley

  1. sportsbird66
    11:14 pm November 18, 2019 Permalink

    I was at the game and the crowd energy was excellent!!! Even though it wasn’t full

    • Lip Man 1
      11:20 am November 19, 2019 Permalink

      Cal: Is an excellent recruiter and seems like a person who really cares about people but the issues surrounding this team are his doing, namely his refusal to recruit a full number of scholarship team. UK is always shorthanded because you’ve got a bunch of guys headed to the NBA and a bunch of walk on’s who are just there to fill out the practice squade and raise the team GPA.

      That’s fine…

      BUT when you get injuries and UK has had a bunch over the past few years, you are screwed.

      Maybe this will finally get Cal to change his mind on some things and stop using injuries as an “excuse” every media session.

      EVERY team has injuries, but other programs get around it with guys off the bench who can actually do a decent job.

      Ball is in your court moving forward Cal, stop being so damn stubborn.

  2. Rick_S
    11:52 pm November 18, 2019 Permalink

    Hagans had 26, but he didnt play like a star.. some of you don’t know basketball…He had 6 TO’s, missed 10 layups, and couldnt stay in front of his man..points doesnt say it all…we need him to be a PG not a scorer..He needs to look for the ast ..He’s looking for his is Maxey…this is why we’re playing like crap..

    • royce12
      6:26 am November 19, 2019 Permalink

      Did you even see the game or are you just commenting based on the box scores?

    • Bluehender
      7:47 am November 19, 2019 Permalink

      I saw what Rick saw. And he’s right. A lot of things could be cleaned up if our point guard would think pass first..and if he’s not going to pass…FINISH AT THE RIM!!

    • StillBP
      9:25 am November 19, 2019 Permalink

      Who should he have passed it to last night instead of shooting? Hagans shot 50%….should he have passed it to the 25% shooter that was Sestina last night? Or maybe the 29% shooter that was Maxey? The 40% that was Whitney? In typical situations where we aren’t down 2 key players with injuries, perhaps he should look to pass more. He didn’t have much of a choice last night other than Richards.

    • kjd
      9:50 am November 19, 2019 Permalink

      The two missing guys aren’t shooters either

    • Bluehender
      9:58 am November 19, 2019 Permalink

      A lot needs to be cleaned up in our offense BP. Good spacing and making an extra pass will help raise shooting percentages. Being down two players certainly didn’t help the situation and I suppose he tried to put it on his shoulders. I’ll give him credit for making all his free throws. That was impressive

    • StillBP
      9:58 am November 19, 2019 Permalink

      Quickly is a decent shooter, better than other options. So who should he have passed it to?

  3. DY9ASTY
    11:55 pm November 18, 2019 Permalink

    @sportsbird66 I was there too and I completely agree. Good atmosphere tonight

  4. mashburnfan1
    12:58 am November 19, 2019 Permalink

    Empty crowd, bad basketball well who keeps saying it is the Cal effect. 4ever says I lie but all I have always said is this type of coaching and running a program is not going to win a title if they have to depend on only FR and is why fans {like me} have lost interest. All we do is see bad bad basketball for months and hope they come together in March for a 6 game run which when you rely on FR they are not consistent enough to make. And I agree, used to be getting in Rupp was a treat, almost once in a lifetime experience and now people don’t care as the players are never here long enough to get to know them and for them to become a UK legend like so many in the past. The product is bad, only reason I am going to UAB game is we were going down Fri for the U6 football game anyways so it makes the trip a little more worth while. Is nothing against the players, I am proud to have each one of them here and they have been great young men, is the coach and system that has ruined it. We are not the “gold standard”, we are not “college basketball” and have not been since 1996. Really hope the new rule change helps stop this. Nothing against 1 and done, if you are good enough go get the money. Trouble is several were not ready and shoved out, several were just never good enough and stayed for 2 to 4 years but helped us little and others just left since they were not a one and done potential and would not get any playing time. We are basically a G-league team just trying to prep guys for the NBA and BBN suffers through this garbage basketball.

    • TonyMontana
      7:35 am November 19, 2019 Permalink

      Is this Billy Gillispie?

    • sportsbird66
      7:55 am November 19, 2019 Permalink

      If you have lost interest then why are you here posting

    • 4everUKBlue
      8:32 am November 19, 2019 Permalink

      mashbum’ latest Cal hate diatribe as usual is not worth reading, I’m sure he told at least a couple lies, he always does because he is a liar.

    • 4everUKBlue
      8:34 am November 19, 2019 Permalink

      What’s the matter mashbum did Brad sleep with your boyfriend?

    • VirginiaCat
      10:26 am November 19, 2019 Permalink

      We were the gold standard from 1996-1998 and also during Cal’s first six years at Kentucky. I have been critical of Cal’s performance since 2015, but in fairness, his first several yeas at UK were outstanding. He was recruiting the best of the best, getting to the final four on a regular basis, and finishing the year higher in the AP than where we started. Since 2015, Cal has underachieved and suffered some embarrassing losses. It’s a tale of two Cals.

    • CrystalBall
      11:11 am November 19, 2019 Permalink

      VirginiaCat. I think Cal’s 2015 platoon system has had a negative effect on recruiting. Probably cost him a few top recruits.

    • wyatts1
      10:48 am November 19, 2019 Permalink

      The rule change will help in regards to not so many new faces each and every year, I dont like the one and done either, matter of fact I hate it however it’s not Cal or the universities fault, so why be so harsh on them. This is college basketball today, the game has changed and college basketball will never return to the days of old, for the most part the heart just isnt there. No birds with birds mentality walking through those doors, those days are long gone. If your a fan then just sit back and enjoy your schools games, the ups and the downs, dont worry so much about thing you or I, or coach Cal or UK cant change.

    • CrystalBall
      11:06 am November 19, 2019 Permalink

      mashburnfan1. Agree with you about depending on too many freshmen. Ky and Duke have proven it. Especially during the last 4 seasons. They have had the top 2 recruiting classes, but neither team has reached the final four. Last year coach K had the best recruiting class in CBB history.

  5. Righteous1
    1:37 am November 19, 2019 Permalink

    Mashburnfan1 you forgot: We also pay this coach 10 million per year with a lifetime contract with 0 Final Four appearances in the last 4 yrs and this year’s trend looks to extend to 5 years without a Final Four appearance. 8 years since a title. Just incredible work compensation package if you can get it.

  6. Angelo
    2:05 am November 19, 2019 Permalink

    How did we beat Michigan St??? At least we have lots of lame ? excuses ???

  7. BluKudzu
    5:45 am November 19, 2019 Permalink

    I never thought I would see the day when anyone offered free tickets to a UK basketball game, in Rupp Arena, playing against anyone, on any day or night, would ever be turned down.

    I never thought I would see the place as empty as it was last night.

    Am I wrong?

  8. JT55
    6:49 am November 19, 2019 Permalink

    You mean people have better things to do than watch bad basketball vs a bad team? Also we all enjoy watching teams that can’t shoot every year.

  9. Tom Bombadil
    7:01 am November 19, 2019 Permalink

    GO CATS!

  10. Bluehender
    7:34 am November 19, 2019 Permalink

    Tighten up turnovers, run the offense through Nick Richards. Hagans needs to pass more, shoot less. Get some assists..finish at the rim

    • Aar
      8:46 am November 19, 2019 Permalink

      Richards assisted what I think is Juzang’s only made three of the season. Not sure the O needs to constantly run through him yet but good things are increasingly likely when he gets touches in or close to the paint. That includes made free throws!

    • StillBP
      9:29 am November 19, 2019 Permalink

      Juzangs 3 was against Evansville.

    • Megan
      11:25 am November 19, 2019 Permalink

      14 turnovers this game, 13 last game. Folks, that’s not a lot. That’s about what Cal wants. He doesn’t want 20 turnovers, but he doesn’t want 5 or 6. He follows Coach Wooden’s observation that if you aren’t turning the ball over, you’re not pushing yourself enough. So 12-14 is perfectly fine. I know we have some frustrations here, but this shouldn’t be one of them. Certainly no reason to declare “worst.”

    • Bluehender
      12:13 pm November 19, 2019 Permalink

      Megan I’ve heard Cal say that but I think it’s Cal bs myself. If the offense is running efficiently, 5-6 is awesome. Who declared “worst”?

  11. satcheluk
    7:50 am November 19, 2019 Permalink

    Glad we have football to distract us from this disappointing start to basketball. I had to turn of last nights game. I can’t watch a team that lacks effort on defense and rebounding. WTH has happened to Hagans on defense?

    • makeitstop
      8:45 am November 19, 2019 Permalink

      Hagans should get credit for doing what ur supposed to do when u find urself losing to a less talented team, he found a way to exploit his advantages in speed and quickness, and made his FT. Cal putting him on the wing and letting him attack the baseline was a great adjustment that saved the game from a coach some describe as not a good game coach. That said, 6 TO, not finishing early on drives, missed passes and worse, as u point out, poor defense called out by Jimmy Dykes are not what we expect of him. They missed IQ. But as I watch it I can’t see how they fix an offense where u can’t shoot? Running it through Nick isn’t it bc he’s got to be a scorer in the paint and inside 12 but he’s not a great passer. He is the brightest spot of the season but that’s not his strength. The dribble drive would work if they could kick and shoot or finish, they have a team that could do it but they can’t do either right now and the defense that’s so elite? They last about 30 seconds and break down. Long long way to go.

  12. JDizzle14
    7:53 am November 19, 2019 Permalink

    Anyone else think all this injury BS is just BS??? Seems like we go down this road every Nov and Dec. How is it Cal has dbl the amt of injured players than any other team at the same stretch of time every yr? Every game he announces an hour before tipoff some injury to somebody we heard nothing abt the previous week… is it Cal always sits short-handed with no depth? How many yrs of that now? I bet Dontae Allen nvr plays one dribble here. And we’ll nvr get an explanation why. Both of the main coaches have become bigger on excuses and “woe is us” justifications than results.

  13. CahillsCrossingNT
    7:59 am November 19, 2019 Permalink

    I miss Tubby.

    • makeitstop
      8:47 am November 19, 2019 Permalink

      I’m sure he’ll be coaching at a JC near u soon, cheer up.

  14. rebound35
    8:02 am November 19, 2019 Permalink

    This season is already over. I like UK, but this group of players are WEAK! Ryan Harrow thinks they are weak.

    • Bluehender
      8:11 am November 19, 2019 Permalink

      ^^^^It’s early but this is dumbest comment of the far

    • 4everUKBlue
      8:36 am November 19, 2019 Permalink

      LOL, the sky is falling, the sky is falling! You’re right Bluehender, that even beats mashbum and Righteous1 and that’s hard to do.

    • makeitstop
      8:47 am November 19, 2019 Permalink

      Lol BlueHender it’s early but it’s is the best so far lol

    • makeitstop
      8:48 am November 19, 2019 Permalink

      Sorry *urs is the best so far

    • StillBP
      9:31 am November 19, 2019 Permalink

      Stop watching then. No one will notice.

    • T-Rox
      10:18 am November 19, 2019 Permalink

      StillBP, did you happen to look around Rupp lastnight? I think we noticed! No matter how you feel about, and the ppl that agree with you, their will always be just as many ppl feel the direct opposite of you, just the way the world works. The attendance last night was absolutely pathetic, and I’m not sure if we can make it to the new rule in 2022 or whenever they do it.

      Whether we want to agree on the 1 & done stuff or not, we can all agree that it has hurt the program at this point by taking a look around. I’m just hoping that everyone comes back around, and things change in a couple years. I’m a Cal fan, cant wait til he has the same players for multiple years at a time.

  15. KYJelly
    9:22 am November 19, 2019 Permalink

    How are y’all not mentioning the “TJ will make em pay” reference he dropped?

    • makeitstop
      9:59 am November 19, 2019 Permalink

      I commented on that last night – u can’t buy that kind of product placement, well done, TJ.

  16. BigBlue4Three
    9:37 am November 19, 2019 Permalink

    Speaks volumes about the state of our basketball program that fans get more excited about some doofus TV commentators silly sayings during the telecast than the product on the floor.