Cal salutes TyTy Washington for being ‘really comfortable in his own skin’

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After no turnovers in 26-plus minutes Monday night, Kentucky freshman TyTy Washington continued to put himself in position to take bows. In basketball parlance, he let the game come to him rather than try too hard to make an impact.

“That’s his mentally,” UK Coach John Calipari said after the 85-57 victory over Central Michigan at Rupp Arena. “That’s his personality. He’s really comfortable in his own skin. … He’s not in there to say, ‘I’m going to prove I can do this.’”

Washington contributed 15 points, six rebounds and two assists.

“When I’m open, I’m going to shoot it,” he said. “If somebody else is open, I’m going to pass it to them.”

When asked how he adopted this prudent approach, Washington said, “I’ve always played basketball the right way. Growing up as a kid, I never got caught up in how many points I scored. At the end of the day, it’s all about winning.”

While prudent, Washington is not passive. He is one of the few UK players who will take extra-long three-point shots that can remind onlookers of the so-called “four-point line” that is on the team’s practice court.

Washington said he regularly practices shooting from the added distance.

Of opposing defenses, he said, “If they’re sagging off, you can’t be hesitant about letting it fly. And if they come up, you can always go around them and create for others or yourself.”

Kentucky vs. Gonzaga

Earlier this season, Central Michigan lost to Gonzaga 107-54. The Chippewas’ coach, Tony Barbee, compared Kentucky favorably to the Zags.

“They’re as physically imposing as Gonzaga all across the floor,” he said of the Cats. He said UK’s front court was “one of the most dominating in the country.”

That starts with Oscar Tshiebwe, whom Barbee called “a coach’s dream.”

Why?

“He impacts games without ever needing the ball in his hands,” Barbee said.

Tshiebwe leads the nation in rebound average (16.0 per game) and offensive rebounds (6.9 per game).

“What he has done on the backboards has not been seen in college years in years, if not decades,” Barbee said.

Short-handed?

Kentucky continues to deal with illness and injuries. Calipari said “a high fever” caused Daimion Collins to sit out UK’s pregame workout. The UK coach also noted how Bryce Hopkins (back) and Lance Ware (ankle) were dealing with pain.

Calipari also expressed hope that Davion Mintz would be able to play next week.

But given the team’s well-chronicled depth, it might be hard to think of Kentucky as short-handed.

“We do feel short-handed because we don’t have everybody,” Hopkins said. “But I feel we do have a lot of depth on the team. When guys need to step up and do their roles, we have guys to do that.”

Television question

UK fan Bill Bell, a retiree living in Sturgis, sent an email asking about the game not being televised on regular TV.

As with UK’s game against Albany last week, this game could be seen online only via SEC Network+ or ESPN+. A fee was charged. The ESPN+ fee was $6.99 per month or $69.99 for a year.

Bell asked if other college athletics marquee programs have such arrangements. He mentioned Alabama and Georgia in football or Duke and Gonzaga in basketball.

No Alabama football game was on SEC Network+ this season, a spokesman said.

Georgia’s last non-conference home game — against Charleston Southern — was available only through SEC Network+ or ESPN+.

The SEC told each school to do at least one football game and two men’s basketball games per year this way if requested by ESPN.

As for basketball, neither Duke nor Gonzaga have had any games on ESPN+.

Duke games are televised by either ESPN, ESPN2 or the ACC Network with the exception of a game earlier this month shown on Bally Sports South.

The SEC announced its new agreement with ESPN in December.

TyTy Washington (3) was 3-for-5 from three-point range and finished with 15 points in Kentucky’s win against Central Michigan.
TyTy Washington (3) was 3-for-5 from three-point range and finished with 15 points in Kentucky’s win against Central Michigan.

Top 25

The Associated Press top 25 poll released Monday reflected the presumption of the SEC being a top conference.

Six SEC teams made the top 25: 9. Kentucky, 10. Arkansas, 13. Tennessee, 14. Florida, 16. Alabama and 21. Auburn.

That’s more than the Big 12 (four teams), Big Ten (four teams) and Pac-12 (three teams).

Only one ACC team made the AP’s top 25: No. 1 Duke.

Four other ACC teams received votes: North Carolina, Virginia Tech, Louisville and Wake Forest.

One other SEC team received votes: LSU.

And Ohio joined Duke as early UK opponents receiving votes.

Washington downplayed the significance of the top-25 poll.

“We feel as the season progresses, we’re going to keep moving up,” the freshman said.

Etc.

Calipari’s record against former assistants improved to 18-1. … Central Michigan’s all-time record against ranked opponents fell to 4-24. … Central Michigan will play at Xavier on Wednesday. That will complete a string of seven straight games away from home to begin the Chippewas’ season.

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Calipari talks injuries, illnesses, Dontaie Allen and more after yet another blowout

Three takeaways from Kentucky basketball’s win over Central Michigan

Box score from Kentucky basketball’s victory over Central Michigan

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