Wildcats look to bounce back against Ohio State


Kentucky sophomore guard Ashton Hagans brings the ball up the court after a steal during the game against Lamar on Sunday, November 24, 2019 in Lexington, Ky. Kentucky won 81-56. Photo by Chase Phillips | Staff

Eric Decker

Just as Tyrese Maxey got out of a shooting slump, the team ran right into one. 

The freshman guard wanted to go into Vegas with confidence in his ability to shoot.

“I think I’m like 1-for-17, coach wouldn’t let me forget from the last two games, but I mean I’m still extremely happy because we won those games…” Maxey said before the Vegas trip. “I put in work every day so I’m not gonna ever stop shooting because I feel like the next ones gonna go in.”

Maxey had an efficient night in Kentucky’s 69-66 loss to Utah Wednesday night, going 7-of-13 with 18 points, including a 4-of-6 mark from the free throw line. The rest of the team, however, struggled as the No. 6 Cats shot 41 percent from the field with a miserable 2-of-17 from three-point range.

Kentucky (8-2) now looks forward to another top-ten match-up against No. 5 Ohio State at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas as part of the CBS Sports Classic. The Cats lead OSU 11-9 overall in the all-time series.

The Buckeyes (10-1) are coming off an 80-48 victory over Southeast Missouri State this past Tuesday after being defeated by Minnesota their previous game. They were led by the Wesson brothers, Kaleb and Andre, who chipped in 18 and 14, respectively, for the Buckeyes.

Three-point defending looks to be vital as Ohio State leads all Power 5 schools in three-point percentage at 41.6 percent. The Buckeyes, though, will likely be missing their best shooter in Duane Washington, who shoots 53.7 percent from three, due to injury. Kentucky only allows 30 percent shooting against them from distance.

UK’s offense will have to regroup Saturday afternoon as Ohio State ranks ninth in the nation in points per game allowed. The backcourt of Ashton Hagans and Immanuel Quickley looks to improve on a combined 7-of-24 shooting in the loss to Utah, however, they stayed active on the defensive side as they totaled six steals in the game.

Nick Richards should look to get more involved more after only taking three shot attempts and grabbing just four rebounds. The only Wildcat with more than four rebounds the previous contest was EJ Montgomery, who hauled in 10.

Kentucky will be hoping for a statement win and to get its momentum going before it returns home to take on Louisville later this month. Tip-off for Kentucky versus Ohio State Saturday is set for 5:15 p.m on CBS.