Kentucky Wildcats: Next Man Up

NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 09: Head coach John Calipari of the Kentucky Wildcats talks with PJ Washington
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 09: Head coach John Calipari of the Kentucky Wildcats talks with PJ Washington /

UK forward Kevin Knox had his worst game of the season in Kentucky’s win against Monmouth in the Citi Hoops Classic. Luckily for the Kentucky Wildcats several other member of the team stepped up to offset Knox’s sub-par performance.

The Kentucky Wildcats defeated the Monmouth Hawks 93-76 in the Citi Hoops Classic on Saturday. Kentucky’s leading scorer, Kevin Knox, had his worst offensive performance of the season. Knox finished with only 4 points on 1-of-9 shooting and had 7 turnovers.  Knox had been averaging 16.6 points per game entering Saturday’s contest.

Fortunately for John Calipari and the Wildcats, they didn’t need Knox to bring his A-game to Madison Square Garden. One could argue Saturday’s victory against Monmouth was UK’s best ‘team’ win of the season. The Cats led wire-to-wire and had four players in double figures. As a team 20 of the Wildcats’ 31 shots came off an assist.

Young Cats Stepping Up

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander had an amazing all-around game with 15 points, 9 assists and 6 rebounds. Gilgeous-Alexander has had an increasingly expanding role in the Kentucky offense over the last several games. The Wildcats need to find a solid contributor from behind the arc. Gilgeous-Alexander hit 50% from 3-point range on Saturday and Big Blue Nation is hoping that carries over to the next game.

PJ Washington finally broke through with his most complete game of the season. Washington had 20 points, 6 rebounds and 4 blocks. Calipari was raving about Washington’s body transformation during his halftime interview. The Kentucky coach said Washington had lost 15 pounds in 17 days. According to, Washington credits his weight loss to an increase in his cardio training. “Just running every day,” said Washington. “Before practice, after practice, everything.”

This Kentucky team is very young and inexperienced. They start all freshmen and return only one player, Wenyen Gabriel, who played any significant minutes last season. At different points throughout the season, Kentucky fans have seen Knox, Hamidou Diallo, Nick Richards and now Washington have huge games for the Cats. A lot of pundits will argue that every team needs that ‘go-to guy’. So far, Kentucky has shown they have plenty of guys who can step up when their number is called.

While Cats’ fans don’t want to get used to Knox hitting only 11% from the field and scoring in single digits, it’s nice to know that UK is able to play well when their best player has an off night. Knox will look to get back on track next Saturday when Virginia Tech visits the Wildcats in Lexington.