Kentucky players typically don’t fare well in their homecoming games, but Ashton Hagans used the hate from the Georgia crowd as fuel for a career night.
The former Georgia commit finished with 23 points, the fourth time in the last five games he’s eclipsed his career-high in scoring. He also had five rebounds, four assists, and
three four steals (UPDATE: After the game, UK added a steal to Hagans’ total that was originally credited to Tyler Herro). This is the sixth game in which Hagans has had three or more steals, the longest such streak since steals became an official NCAA statistic in 1985-86. With the Georgia crowd booing him and calling him “traitor” during warm-ups, that had to feel good.
“I’m built for this,” Hagans said in a postgame interview with ESPN’s Laura Rutledge. “I just try to go out there and like I said, play my game, attack the basket, if there’s slagging off me, try to knock down a shot. That comes from being in the gym and being under Cal. He’s a hard coach. He’s on you everyday, he wants you to play hard. I just love this game and I’m happy to be home.”
Hagans had a big cheering section at Stegeman Coliseum, all decked out in No. 2 Kentucky jerseys, most notably, his father. Ashton said making them proud was a priority tonight.
“I’m home so I had to try to put on a show,” Ashton said. “I feel like they were very excited. My dad, I don’t think he sat down the whole time. I saw him back there, the whole game. He was telling me to keep my foot on the pedal. That’s what I was trying to do. I just showed out for my family. I tried to do that.”
After a rough shooting start, Ashton hit his stride in the second half and silenced the crowd. “Traitor” chants aside, he said he still has a soft spot in his heart for his home state Bulldogs.
“There’s no hate. Coach Fox left so I just changed my mind. Loyalty over anything. I still love Dawg Nation but I’m a Wildcat now.”
Not DawgNation.com though, right?