Washington became final push in Kentucky basketball’s home loss


Sophomore forward PJ Washington waits to be checked into the game. University of Kentucky men’s basketball team defeated Mississippi State 76-55 at Rupp Arena on Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2019, in Lexington, Kentucky. Photo by Michael Clubb | Staff

Hailey Peters

The now 20-4 Kentucky men’s basketball team suffered a buzzer 73-71 loss to the Louisiana State Tigers on Tuesday night in Rupp Arena.

The Wildcats played a strategic game, leading the Tigers throughout the first half and the majority of the second. The reigns were taken by the Tigers with nine minutes left to play, leaving the Cats struggling defensively down the stretch. Kentucky tied the score back a number of times, but lost the game with LSU’s final offensive rebound and tip-in a fraction of a second before the clock expired.

Despite losing grips at the very last moment, the Cats owe much of their final near-success and last bits of hope to sophomore forward P.J. Washington. Within the last five minutes of play, Washington had 7 points, one rebound, an assist and an steal.

“He gave us a chance,” head coach John Calipari said. “But there’s points in the game where you can get the game to 14, 15. You’ve got to play then.”

The rest of the Kentucky floor agrees that Washington was a big part of their last hopes to pull a win over the Tigers.

“He was huge… and he’s tough on defense too,” freshman guard Immanuel Quickly said. “He can switch out over small guards, and he’s just a really tough player overall.”

In the final five minutes, Washington attempted two jump shots and a three-pointer that did not go in as part of his final efforts for his team. Washington’s ending plays stood out among his teammates, but the team as a whole let LSU steal the ball and have unguarded baskets in their offensive court.

“My view on the last play is that we never should’ve put ourselves in the position,” Washington said about LSU’s final shot that won the Tigers the game. “We can’t win games like that.”

Throughout the entire game, Washington led both teams with 20 points, scoring his eighth 20-point game of the season. He also led the team in rebounds, with nine.

“I feel like I’m a big part of the team,” Washington said. “And you know, I just wanna do what I can.”

This game served as the Cats’ fourth loss of the season, second in conference play and first at home. Their next game will be another tough test: the no. 1 ranked team Tennessee at home on Saturday, Feb. 16. Washington has hope that the team will come back from the LSU loss in time to upset the Vols.

“We lost… nobody’s happy,” Washington said, speaking for his entire team. “In the second half… we gotta stick to the game plan and be more focused. We felt like we should’ve won that game, and we didn’t make the plays to win the game… we’re gonna bounce back Saturday.”