Hagans, Washington, Travis have career nights


Freshman guard Ashton Hagans dribbles the ball into the lane. 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 Kentucky Wildcats pulled out a 76-55 win over the Mississippi State Bulldogs on Tuesday in Rupp Arena. Much of the success can be attributed to two of Kentucky’s starters, who broke and tied their own personal records and had efficient games against their conference foes.

Freshman Kentucky guard Ashton Hagans broke his career assists record. His previous record was seven, and he championed his team’s stats with nine total against the Bulldogs. His record-shattering eighth assist occurred when he dished the ball to Nick Richards, who made a layup, catapulting the Cats to a wide lead late in the second period.

Hagans’ influence on the rest of the team was evident every moment he stepped foot on the court, and head coach John Calipari commented that when the guys see Hagans playing like he did against the Dogs, “it bleeds into everyone else.”

“For the team, we’re just all getting better,” said Hagans. “In practice, we’ve just been going at it, listening to what our coach is telling us, and just trying to get better. I just keep playing my game, keep playing on the defensive end, and trying to help my team.”

This is Hagans’ 12th time this season leading the Wildcats in assists. Throughout his offensive run, he also netted five points and two steals.

Also able to boast a personal best record in this match is sophomore forward P.J. Washington, who tied his career-best blocking record with four total blocked shots. Washington has done so four times this season, the last time being against Louisville. He attributes his own personal success defensively to spanning from the collective efforts of his teammates. 

“We just tried to be aggressive on the defensive end,” said Washington. “We really try to stay in front of our men.”

Calipari commented that as long as Washington has a room for a break, he can be ruthless against his opponents and dominate the courts both offensively and defensively.

“He’ll dunk on you,” said Calipari. “He’ll go get a rebound in traffic. He’ll go block, and when he doesn’t, he posts up and the guy runs around him and tips it away.”

In addition to tying his record for blocks in one game, Washington led scorers on both teams with 21 points, grabbed six total rebounds, and sank three three-pointers, which comes up one shot shy of his career high. 

“We didn’t wanna lose the game,” said Washington. “We try to win every night, and that was the biggest thing for us. We came out and said, ‘we’re not losing this one,’ and we just tried to go out there, stick to the game plan, and listen to what coach said.”

The Cats’ records against the Bulldogs does not stop at Hagans and Washington, but also includes graduate student Reid Travis, who tied his personal rebound best at 12.

In preparation for the game against Kansas on Saturday, Hagans, Washington and Calipari all agree that they do not feel threatened, but rather prepared after the success against the Bulldogs. Kentucky and Kansas will tip off at 6 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 26.