John Clay

Reid Travis’ production, Ashton Hagans’ thefts and more UK basketball notes

How did Kentucky game get away from Vanderbilt?

Vanderbilt coach Bryce Drew talks about what happened in the second half during the Commodores’ 56-47 loss to Kentucky at Rupp Arena in Lexington on Jan. 12, 2019. UK overcame a two-point halftime deficit to improve to 2-1 in SEC play.
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Vanderbilt coach Bryce Drew talks about what happened in the second half during the Commodores’ 56-47 loss to Kentucky at Rupp Arena in Lexington on Jan. 12, 2019. UK overcame a two-point halftime deficit to improve to 2-1 in SEC play.

Kentucky basketball random notes:

Reid Travis scored a season-low five points in Saturday’s 56-47 win over visiting Vanderbilt, but he grabbed 12 rebounds. That tied his season-high of 12 against UNC Greensboro on Dec. 1. Still, as the Cats travel deeper into league play, they’re going to need more scoring out of their graduate transfer. So far, Travis is averaging 7.7 points per conference game. He scored a combined 11 points in the wins over Texas A&M and Vanderbilt.

Speaking of offense, before Christmas, point guard Ashton Hagans scored a grand total of 42 points in 11 games. Starting with UK’s win at Louisville on Dec. 29, the Georgia native has scored 56 points in four games for an average of 14 per game. Many of those points have come off steal-and-scores. His theft total for the past five games: 22.

Hagans is looking forward to UK’s game Tuesday night at Georgia. A native of Cartersville, Ga., Hagans committed to Georgia before ultimately signing with Kentucky and re-classifying. He did admit Saturday he is a little worried about the ticket situation for Stegeman Coliseum in Athens.

After being outrebounded by eight at Alabama and by one at home against Texas A&M, UK returned to its dominant ways on the glass Saturday. The Cats crushed the Commodores 38-21 on the boards.

At SEC Basketball Media Day, the annual preseason media poll picked Ole Miss to finish dead last in the conference. Three games in, the Rebels are easily the biggest surprise in the league, if not the nation. Under new coach Kermit Davis Jr., the Rebels are 3-0 in the conference and 13-2 overall. They beat No. 11 Auburn 82-67 on Wednesday. They knocked off No. 14 Mississippi State 81-77 in Starkville on Saturday.

After beating UK 77-75 on Jan. 5 in what coach Avery Johnson called a “huge win for the program,” Alabama has gone 0-2. The Tide lost 88-79 at LSU, then 81-80 at home to Texas A&M.

Kentucky’s wins over both Louisville and North Carolina took on a different light Saturday when U of L ran UNC off the floor 83-62 in Chapel Hill. That result doesn’t make UK’s win over North Carolina on Dec. 22 in Chicago look quite as good, but makes the Cats’ win over Louisville on Dec. 29 at the ‘Ville look that much better.

After Saturday, Ken Pomeroy’s adjusted efficiency numbers rank North Carolina 10th, Kentucky 14th and Louisville 27th.

Saturday was North Carolina’s most lopsided home loss under Roy Williams, which serves as more evidence that U of L Athletics Director Vince Tyra got it right with his hire of Chris Mack.

The Kentucky men's basketball team defeated Vanderbilt 56-47 Saturday at Rupp Arena in Lexington.

UK beat Vanderbilt on Saturday despite scoring just 56 points. The Cats are now 10-12 under John Calipari when scoring less than 60 points.

Vanderbilt scored just 17 points in the second half. That’s the fewest by a UK foe since Tennessee managed 17 points in a 66-48 loss to the 2014-15 Kentucky team at Thompson-Boling Arena. Current UT coach Rick Barnes arrived in Knoxville the next season.

UK’s Immanuel Quickley is heating up from three-point range. Over the last three games, the freshman has made seven of 13 shots from beyond the arc.

Vandy made four of its first five three-pointers on Saturday at Rupp, then went three of 20 from downtown the rest of the game. Still, opponents are making 38.1 percent of their threes against the Cats, which puts UK’s three-point defense 322nd in the nation. That’s out of 353 Division I teams. (Virginia is first at 24.5 percent.)

Tevin Mack, who was six of six from three-point land in the first half of Alabama’s win over Kentucky, has missed eight of his nine three-point attempts since. He was 0-for-2 in the second half against UK, 0-for-3 at LSU and 1-for-4 against Texas A&M. Big Blue Nation would call that “The Kentucky Effect.”

Next game

No. 18 Kentucky at Georgia

7 p.m. Tuesday (ESPN)

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