While Kentucky Wildcats fans anxiously hold out hope for good news on forward PJ Washington, the team continues preparation for a Sweet 16 matchup with the Houston Cougars. Although there hasn’t been much provided on Washington to this point after a foot injury sidelined him for the first two games of the 2019 NCAA Tournament, a positive update may on the horizon.
During the latest episode of ESPN’s Courtside with Greenberg & Dakich podcast, college basketball analyst Seth Greenberg addressed the situation. While the two were talking about the Kentucky vs. Houston matchup, the former Virginia Tech coach dropped an interesting nugget.
Seth Greenberg: “I think that they get PJ Washington back, which now all the sudden not only can he score no the block …”
Dan Dakich: “Are you announcing they got him back, or what are you saying?”
Greenberg: “I’m saying that my gut feeling is that he will make an appearance in the game.”
Dakich: “So that means Cal [John Calipari] just text you?”
Greenberg: “No, no, no, no, I haven’t talked to Cal about that … but I talked to some other people. So I think he comes back.”
While this is one of the first hints that point to Washington suiting up for the game, there has been no official announcement made just yet. With that said, the Wildcats forward does appear to be taking steps in the right direction.
PJ Washington Getting Cast Removed
The expectation was that Washington would be reevaluated at some point during the middle of the week. And as the UK Sports Network revealed, Kentucky coach John Calipari said that there’s no update on Washington’s status as of Monday, but that he was set to get his cast off on Tuesday.
Although the likes of Reid Travis, EJ Montgomery and Nick Richards have done well holding down the fort through the first two games, Washington’s return would be huge. As SB Nation’s Jason Marcum pointed out, the current betting line favors Kentucky as a two-point favorite over the Cougars, but if Washington were to play, he states it could jump up to 5.5.
Kentucky’s Play With Washington Sidelined
The Wildcats had no issue during their first-round matchup against 15-seed Abilene Christian. They jumped out to a 39-13 halftime lead and went on to win 79-44 behind Keldon Johnson’s 25 points and six rebounds. Travis tallied 18 points with nine rebounds while Montgomery totaled three points but pulled down 11 rebounds. Richards was also productive off the bench with eight points and four boards in 17 minutes.
While the 62-56 victory over Wofford was tougher, the Wildcats pushed their second-half lead between six-to-nine points on a few occasions. Travis was again solid, scoring 14 points with 11 rebounds over 37 minutes while Ashton Hagans tacked on 12 points, five rebounds and four assists.
Although Kentucky hasn’t needed Washington to this point, the potential to get your leading scorer along with top rebounder back in a pivotal Sweet 16 matchup can’t be understated. The 6-foot-8 sophomore forward has posted averages of 14.8 points and 7.5 rebounds while shooting 51.5 percent from the field through 33 games.
Follow all of Heavy’s Kentucky basketball coverage here