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College Basketball – Kentucky Beats Winthrop 87-74

UK squanders big lead and hangs on to defeat Winthrop – Photo by Mont Dawson – SVA

Lexington, KY – UK Wildcat Basketball
By Rick Blair – Sports View America Columnist 11-21-18

The Wildcats limped home to an 87-74 win over Winthrop University.  It looked like the Cats were going to cruise home to an easy victory when Tyler Herro made a layup with 12:44 to go in the game, but Winthrop wouldn’t give in to the young Wildcats and despite the fact that Herro’s layup gave Kentucky a game high 26 point lead at 68-42, it was the Cats that went backwards instead of forward.  From that point forward, the Eagles outscored the Cats 32 to 19.  It was not the kind of defense that Coach John Calipari wanted to see going down the stretch to close out a game.  And it is something that will need to get fixed, if the Wildcats want to make a championship run at the end of the season.

The starting lineup for today’s game against the Winthrop Eagles was Nick Richards, PJ Washington, Keldon Johnson, Tyler Herro and Immanuel Quickley.

Kentucky controlled the opening tap and a drive by Herro led to a lob dunk by PJ Washington to give UK an early two point lead.  After Wintrhop hit a three-pointer the Wildcats reeled off five unanswered points to take a 7-3 lead.  After each team traded baskets the Wildcats went into the first time out of the game with a 14-8 advantage.

Reid Travis came in off the bench to give the Cats an early spark by making a couple baskets and he made a nifty assist to Quickley for a three-pointer.  When the second TV timeout was taken the Wildcats had extended their lead to ten at 26-16.

Keldon Johnson was playing well early in the game as he was leading the team in scoring and rebounding with eight points and four rebounds as the Cats had built an early 36-23 lead when time was called at the 7:24 mark of the first half.

The Cats were getting up and down the court, but they were still struggling to guard the drive and three-point line.  The Eagles made 7 of 16 three point attempts in the half and only trailed the Wildcats by 10 (44-34) with 2:51 to go in the half.

The Cats finished the half shooting 60 percent from the field and dominated the boards 25 to 11, but only led 51-37 mainly by giving up seven three-pointers and several layups.

PJ Washington came on strong at the end of the half to finish with 13 points and 8 rebounds, Johnson and Travis both had 8 points at the break.

The Wildcats started the second half on an 11-0 run to go up 62-37, when Nick Richards made a dunk to cap off the run at the 16:39 mark, it was Richards’ sixth point of the half.  Next it was Herro who went on a many run as he made all three of his three-pointers in the second half and he scored 11 of his 15 points in the second stanza.  Herro also led the team in assist with seven on the day.

While the Cats struggled on the defensive end, they were efficient on offense as they shot 56 percent from the field on 31 of 55 shooting and the Cats went to the foul line 24 times making a respectable 18 of those attempts.  The Wildcats also had five players score in double figures, led by PJ Washington’s 19 points followed by Herro’s 15, Johnson’s 13, Green’s 11 and Nick Richard with 10.

Washington was the star of the game with the 19 points, but he also had an all-around good game as he led the team with 11 rebounds.  He also had 3 steals and a blocked shot.  This was his second double-double of the season.

With the win the Cats are now 4-1 on the season and will play this Friday at Rupp Arena against Tennessee State.

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