While Reid Travis owned the first half, PJ Washington owned the second. The sophomore big man finished with 20 points, 13 rebounds, 2 blocks, 1 steal, and 1 assist in 36 minutes. As we’ve seen all season, when PJ’s dialed in like that, he’s really, really good.
“Today, PJ had a spirit about him,” John Calipari said afterwards. “He had a spirit about him. He had a confidence about him. There was no tentativeness. I’ve been waiting a year for that.”
With Kansas attempting to keep it close in the final minutes, PJ — aka Mr. 1 of 2 — stepped to the line and nailed four straight free throws, proof to Cal that his confidence is sky high.
“There was no tentativeness. There was no, ‘I’m not sure. I believe –‘ We showed he and Keldon on tape last game flying down the court. I’m telling you, flying. When we showed the team, I said, ‘You mean you’re that fast? You’re that fast? You and Keldon are that fast? Then why aren’t you running like that?’ I think when he plays at a different pace, a different level of intensity, a different level of bouncing and alertness, I’m telling you, he’s as good as anyone in the country. When he doesn’t, he’s okay. He’s just okay.”
CBS Sports’ Jon Rothstein agreed, tweeting that PJ’s decision to come back to Kentucky for another year is already paying off:
PJ Washington may have benefited more from coming back to school than any other player who went through the NBA Draft process last spring. Getting better every game. #BBN
— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) January 27, 2019
PJ’s problem has always been consistency. Which PJ will we see vs. Vanderbilt on Tuesday?
“When you play that way, the hard thing is to live up to that and do that all the time,” Cal said. “Really hard. That’s when you become special, when you thrive in that environment. ‘I’m going to show everybody every game who I am vs. I’m a little tired today, I’m just going to –‘ If you want to be one of those guys, you thrive in that. I was proud of him today. He did some of that in the second half vs. Mississippi State. So hopefully he’s breaking through right now. I think being in practice against Reid, Nick, and EJ every day, they’re all getting better. Every one of them are getting better.”