Kentucky Basketball: Hagans, Cats Top the Dawgs, 89-79

LEXINGTON, KENTUCKY – DECEMBER 07: Head coach John Calipari of the Kentucky Wildcats speaks with Ashton Hagans #0 during the first half of the game against the Fairleigh Dickinson Knights at Rupp Arena on December 07, 2019 in Lexington, Kentucky. (Photo by Silas Walker/Getty Images)

 

Kentucky Basketball beat Georgia 89-79, completing a regular-season sweep of the Bulldogs. Hagans led the charge with 23 points and 9 assists.

There is no place like home! There is no place like home! There is no place like home!

Rupp Arena rocked as the Cats returned from two consecutive road conference games to beat Georgia 89-79. Kentucky Basketball improves to 13-4 and 4-1 in SEC Conference play. Kentucky improved to 2-0 versus the Bulldogs this season, sweeping their regular-season matchups.

No one was more excited by another victory over Georgia than Aston Hagans. Hagans led the way and set the tone both offensively and defensively. The Cartersville, Georgia native, and former University of Georgia commit always plays with an edge against the Bulldogs and this game was no different.

Hagans stuffed the stat sheet, leading the Cats in scoring with 23 points and setting up his teammates with 9 assists. Hagans chipped in 5 rebounds, 4 steals, and a blocked shot, for good measure.

Maybe most importantly – it was mentioned multiple times during the broadcast on ESPN – John Calipari is encouraging Hagans to take control of this Kentucky Basketball team. Hagans was calling the offense on his own for much of the first half and even took control on the sidelines during timeouts.

This game looks to be a definitive turning point in terms of Kentucky Basketball leadership in 2019-2020; this is Ashton Hagans’ team!

 

LEXINGTON, KENTUCKY – NOVEMBER 22: Nick Richards #4 of the Kentucky Wildcats celebrates after making a basket during the game against the Mount St Mary’S Moutaineers at Rupp Arena on November 22, 2019 in Lexington, Kentucky. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Nick Richards has another huge game for Kentucky Basketball.

While Hagans’ leadership set the tone, Nick Richards continues to dominate the interior for the Cats. Richards nearly put up a double-double, scoring 20 points and grabbing 8 boards. He demonstrated his dominance defensively blocking 3 shots.

 

LEXINGTON, KENTUCKY – NOVEMBER 29: Johnny Juzang #10 of the Kentucky Wildcats shoots the ball against the UAB Blazers at Rupp Arena on November 29, 2019 in Lexington, Kentucky. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

The freshmen are starting to show up consistently

Coach Cal’s latest vaunted recruiting class has been pretty inconsistent with the exception of Tyrese Maxey. However, the Georgia game marks a turning point for the freshman Cats.

Johnny Juzang and Keion Brooks Jr. shined in their roles and may earn more playing time after stellar efforts in limited roles. Juzang’s hustle and effort stood out, as he had 6 points and 3 rebounds. Brooks has performed well in back to back solid outings, scoring 8 points, pulling down 5 boards, and adding a rejection.

The depth of the freshmen allowed Calipari to play nine different Cats tonight and kept Kentucky Basketball fresh down the stretch.

 

LEXINGTON, KENTUCKY – NOVEMBER 12: Tyrese Maxey #3 of the Kentucky Wildcats walks off of the court after the 67-64 loss to the Evansville Aces at Rupp Arena on November 12, 2019 in Lexington, Kentucky. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Tyrese Maxey combined with Nick Richards for the play of the night.

While Maxey didn’t fill up the scoring column like Kentucky Basketball fans know he is capable of, he did provide Cats fans with one electric moment in the second half (courtesy @Scott_Charlton2, via Twitter). Maxey used his impressive ball-handling to elude two Georgia defenders just past half court before driving into the lane and delivering the alley-oop to Nick Richards.

This play is just an example of how electric Maxey can be as a playmaker in the open court with the ball in his hand.

 

LEXINGTON, KY – JANUARY 04: Immanuel Quickley #5 of the Kentucky Wildcats shoots the ball against Mitchell Smith #5 of the Missouri Tigers during the second half at Rupp Arena on January 4, 2020 in Lexington, Kentucky. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)

There is still room to improve for Kentucky Basketball.

Immanuel Quickley has cooled off after his hot start from behind the three-point line in SEC play. Quickley had his second consecutive 1-5 shooting performance and fouled out with 12 points.

Kentucky Basketball will need to look over the defensive performance tonight and find ways to improve. The Cats gave up 79 points in the win, the second-most points Kentucky Basketball has given up in a game this season.

Saturday marks the return of the SEC/Big 12 Challenge, where the Cats take on #18 Texas Tech in Lubbock, Texas in an out of conference showcase.