UK Men's Basketball

Hagans, Baker figure prominently in Friday’s UK takeaways

Jemarl Baker starting to show what he can do for Kentucky

Kentucky basketball assistant coach Joel Justus discusses the development of redshirt freshman guard Jemarl Baker, who missed all of last season with a knee injury. UK plays host to Vanderbilt on Saturday, Jan. 12, 2019, at Rupp Arena.
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Kentucky basketball assistant coach Joel Justus discusses the development of redshirt freshman guard Jemarl Baker, who missed all of last season with a knee injury. UK plays host to Vanderbilt on Saturday, Jan. 12, 2019, at Rupp Arena.

Five takeaways from Kentucky’s media availability on the eve of a home game against Vanderbilt:

1. Ashton Hagans has had a total of 19 steals in the last four games. His disruptive defense keys Kentucky’s defense. Now he will be playing against a Vandy team that lost its point guard, Darius Garland, in November and must improvise an offensive flow. Mismatch?

2. Youth figures to be served when Kentucky plays Vanderbilt. Ken Pomeroy rates both teams outside the top 300 in terms of experience. After UK beat Texas A&M on Tuesday, John Calipari lamented his team’s, uh, youthful indiscretions. Assistant coach Joel Justus, who substituted for Calipari on Friday, said UK had a “ton” of improvement to make in the process of maximizing its team potential.

3. When asked about Calipari’s suggestion earlier in the season that 35 points and 20 rebounds could be expected on a regular basis, PJ Washington smiled. However realistic those numbers are, they seem intended to spur more production.

4. Jemarl Baker’s varied contributions against Texas A&M were not a surprise, Justus said. UK coaches knew the label of shooter attached to Baker was incomplete.

5. Hagans scored a career-high 18 points against A&M. His only other double-digit totals came in the previous two games: 11 at Louisville and 12 at Alabama. But Justus balked when a reporter suggested that UK coaches want Hagans to “let it fly.”

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