Kentucky basketball: Cats loss of Washington, game shows the value he brings

Kentucky Wildcats TyTy Washington Jr.
Kentucky Wildcats TyTy Washington Jr. /
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Kentucky basketball got a taste of just how valuable TyTy Washington is when he is on the court and what his loss means when he isn’t. The result of the super freshman who left the game in the first half with an ankle injury showed in the end result as the Cats fell 80-77 at Auburn.

It was a battle of the heavyweights in the Southeastern Conference who would meet only once in the regular season with No. 12 Kentucky (15-4, 4-2) coming to hostile and No, 2 ranked Auburn (18-1, 7-0) for a Saturday showdown.

In the end, Auburn walked away as the winner and possibly the NCAA’s top ranking this week. They proved they are a very good team, but not head and shoulders above UK, the SEC, and the rest of the NCAA’s heavy hitters.

Washington, who had been named at least the co-freshman of the week for four straight weeks had the Wildcats off to a blistering and very impressive start until the 8:20 mark of the first half when he went up for a shot and came down on teammate Oscar Tshiebwe’s foot injuring his ankle.

Kentucky basketball can’t overcome the loss of Washington, Wheeler injuries

In the nine minutes, he played Kentucky was +8 with Washington in the game.

However, when he came down on Tshiebwe’s foot and tried to get up he was in a lot of pain and had to be helped off the floor. He indicated he would be ok to come back, but instead was sent to the locker room where he was ruled out the remainder of the game with an ankle injury.

Kentucky led 25-16 when he left the game, and Auburn outscored the Cats 64-46 without Washington.

Pretty open and shut case to what he means to this team and the added value.

He wasn’t the only one to go down and nearly led to the complete demise as starting point guard Shavir Wheeler had to feel more like he was in a WWE ring thanks to slamming into a pair of Walker Kessler screens that almost laid him out twice.

The first time was eerily reminiscent to the LSU game where he injured his neck and missed three games.

In typical full-speed fashion, Wheeler slammed into the 7-foot-1  245-pound Kessler with 11:28 to play running into a hard screen and dropped to the floor like a rag doll.

Adding insult to the play was Auburn’s Wendell Green hit a 3 pointer as well giving the Tigers a 51-47 lead. Completely dazed after laying on the court for several minutes Wheeler went to the locker room to be evaluated.

He somehow emerged from the locker room and reentered the game with  8:30 to play but the damage had been done with the Cats missing both of their backcourt players as Kentucky trailed 58-48.

There was no one to pick up the slack try as they might and Kentucky’s offense sputtered and the defensive pressure out front was nullified.

While the battle was for lead atop the SEC standings it was Auburn who needed the win more with a cupcake schedule remaining and the tougher SEC schools absent the rest of the SEC schedule the chance for any other big wins is slim. They even drew Oklahoma for next week’s Big 12/SEC Challenge and the Cowboys don’t pose a big wow factor.

Kentucky’s tough remaining schedule will provide a multitude of chances and big net rating opportunities along with facing Kansas next week in the Big 12/SEC Challenge.

Here are some other quick observations and takeaways.