Washington steps up as Wildcats coast past Ohio


Tammie Brown

TyTy Washington had career highs of 20 points and 11 rebounds in Kentucky’s 77-59 win over Ohio.

By Keith Taylor, Kentucky Today

LEXINGTON (KT) — Kentucky guard TyTy Washington did it all in a 77-59 win over Ohio Friday night.

The freshman had career bests of 22 points and 11 rebounds and dished out five assists to help Kentucky overcome Ohio despite the first-half absence of leading scorer Oscar Tshiebwe, who played just one minute in the opening half after picking up two fouls on the first two possessions.

Almost immediately, the Wildcats felt the loss of Tshiebwe, but went into attack mode as a unit and outrebounded the gritty Bobcats 53-17. The margin didn’t surprise Tshiebwe, who was all smiles in the locker room after grabbing 10 rebounds in the second half. His teammates knew they had to step it up on the glass in the second half.

“Without him on the floor, his presence was definitely missed,” Washington said. “Keion (Brooks) stepped up big-time, Bryce (Hopkins) too, and Davion (Mintz) as well. We all figured out if we want the ball, we are going to have to rebound (the ball). We just talked about it and gang-rebounded, that’s what we did.”

While Washington offered up a heap of praise for Brooks, the veteran forward wasn’t surprised by Washington, who has scored 36 points in the past two games and notched his career-high Friday night by simply knocking down field goals inside the arc and on drives to the basket.

“That’s who he is,” Brooks said of Washington. “He can do a lot of things on the floor. He rebounded exceptionally well … he made shots too. What he did doesn’t surprise me because I know the caliber of player that he is.”

It took a breakthrough performance by Washington to help the Wildcats overcome the Bobcats, who led most of the first half before Kentucky used a big-second half to notch their third consecutive victory.

“(Teams) are going to give us their best punch in the first half, obviously,” Washington said. “They’re going to give us their best punch in the beginning but can they do it the rest of the game? In the second half, they got worn down and we just kept it coming and finally found our momentum and just kept going.”

Kentucky coach John Calipari doesn’t mind Washington launching a 3-pointer, but likes the fact that his star freshman settled for open jumpers.

“Who doesn’t like threes?” Washington said. “Coach Cal doesn’t care. If the ball goes in, he wants you do shoot that shot. The threes were not there at all, but the two was and he didn’t care and encouraged me and Keion to step in and shoot twos and we were open. At the end of the day, it’s all about making shots and winning games.”

“How about TyTy? 11 rebounds,” Calipari said. “He was one for six from the three. He gets 20 points and 11 rebounds. And he only took 15 shots to get 20 points. Think of that. He fought. He fought.”

In the first half, Washington got some help from his freshmen classmate Bryce Hopkins who filled in for Tshiebwe in the opening half and finished with seven points and seven rebounds. Brooks took advantage of open looks inside the paint and followed Washington with 22 points and eight rebounds.

“The first time, he passed up an open shot and I told him that was his shot,” Washington said, “When he took the next shot and made it, he kept shooting and making it and it was like we are going to keep feeding Keion.”

Playing with a cast of veterans, such as Brooks, has helped Washington adapt on and off the floor. He mostly relies on guards Sahvir Wheeler and Davion Mintz.

“Whenever I have a question about something, I just go to the both of them and they always give me the answer,” he said.

Washington let his talking speak on the court against the Bobcats.

Gametracker: Albany at Kentucky, 7 p.m. Monday, TV/Radio: ESPN+, UK Radio Network.