Four takeaways from Kentucky’s win over Abilene Christian
Kentucky took care of business in the opening round of the NCAA tournament last night. They jumped out to a big lead and dominated the entire game, winning 79-44. The Biggest news was off the court, with PJ Washington having a cast on his foot as he sat on the bench. Here are three takeaways from the game.
- Go small if PJ is out- The Cats played very well last night when they moved Keldon Johnson over to the 4 spot. Against teams with a lot of size inside it could be an issue but the Cats won’t have to worry about that tomorrow. Obviously contributions from Nick Richards and EJ Montgomery will be very important as well. Jemarl Baker filled the 3 spot very well last night when Keldon played the 4. The ability to use the “small” lineup is why I think Wofford is a better matchup for Kentucky than Seton Hall would have been.
- Reid Travis can pick up the scoring load inside- With PJ in the lineup, Reid has not been needed to score as much inside. Now with PJ out, Reid will be needed to step up and put points on the board. The good thing is that he is very familiar with being a focal point on offense after being the star at Stanford for several years. Not many teams could lose a player like PJ and have someone as talented as Reid that could step into a bigger role. Look for Kentucky to post up Travis early and often against Wofford on Saturday.
- Survive and advance is all that matters- There is a lot of worry about PJ and what his absence could mean to Kentucky’s NCAA tournament hopes. The reality is that Kentucky just has to win one game at a time and get PJ back whenever he is ready. They took care of step one and it will be tougher on Saturday but they can beat Wofford without PJ, if they are locked in on defense.
- Assume PJ is out Saturday- It is probably best to expect that PJ will be out against Wofford. The plan is to take the cast off today and see how it has healed. That means there is a chance he could play tomorrow but it is probably pretty slim. With that said, I think that some of the wide spread panic that he is done for the season is unwarranted. I understand the fear, but after talking to some people I think PJ will play again if Kentucky can get to Kansas City.
The Cats are off today and will begin to prepare for Wofford. We will have a media session with them this afternoon, so stay tuned for interviews and an update on PJ.