What a night for Tyler Herro. The freshman guard was solid from start to finish and was steady across the board. Yes, he finished with 15 points, but his biggest contribution came from the sheer energy he brought to the court. His defense was consistently strong throughout his 32 minutes of action.
While “hustle” typically can’t be fully represented on a stat line, it can definitely be seen in a player’s rebounding numbers. Herro finished with an astonishing 13 rebounds, good for a career-high for Herro and a game-high for the team.
“I’m happy for Tyler – this is a big game for Tyler,” Calipari said after the game. “Forget about baskets made and all that – it was a big game. He got 13 rebounds.”
That magic number 13 was Herro’s best performance of the season by far. His previous record was nine boards, which came against Duke way back in November. On the season, Herro’s averaging around four rebounds per game, but Coach Cal said effort made the difference Saturday night.
“If you don’t attempt to rebound, you’re not going to get the rebound,” Calipari said. “How about that? We’re charting attempts to get guys to go make an effort to go get them.”
According to Calipari, the Kentucky staff keeps track of how many rebounds (offensive and defensive) each player attempts, in addition to how many they actually pull in per game. Sometimes in the past, they’ve seen players’ attempts go down as their point totals go up, specifically citing PJ Washington and Keldon Johnson. But Calipari seemed happy with Herro’s “attempt percentage” tonight.
“He was fighting for balls. It was a good effort.”
The best part? It looked like Herro was having an absolute ball. Notorious for embracing the villain role on the road, Herro found a way to be himself inside Rupp Arena. He only drained one three-point bucket, but, as per usual, it came at a big moment. He was trash talking the other team, clapping in their faces and diving on the floor. He finished 8-9 from the free-throw line, his first miss since the North Carolina game on Dec. 22, and he was genuinely upset about it after the game. After making 30 straight free throws, that one will bug him. But it didn’t take away from the joy of this win.
At one point in the game, he literally skipped to the bench. By the end of the game, he was having so much fun, he basically ran to the free-throw line with a big grin plastered on his face. He beat the rest of the court there by several seconds, just waiting for his chance to clinch his first double-double as a Wildcat.
Beating the No. 1 team in the nation is incredibly fun, and Tyler Herro showed it.