PJ Washington had a huge role for Kentucky in its Sweet 16 victory over Houston. Kentucky escaped with a 62-58 victory over third-seeded Houston. This was in the second Midwest Region semifinal Friday night at Sprint Center. Now, The Wildcats next will face fifth-seeded Auburn. The one which used a strong second half to defeat top-seeded North Carolina 97-80 in the first semifinal.
However, The one Kentucky won, 62-58, but would likely have lost without Washington. Washington has a terribly painful left foot. This is the result of a sprain he suffered nearly two weeks ago. Hard cast. Walking boot. Around-the-clock treatment. Aquatic therapy. Medical specialists in several states. All that stuff helped speed the healing process. But Washington’s foot still hurt Friday morning.
Morover, The Kentucky coaching staff learned that after Washington tried to participate in the Wildcats’ final practice. But decided he was not ready. “We didn’t have any intention of playing him until right before the game,” said UK associate head coach Kenny Payne.
Furthermore, Washington scored 16 points, two more than his average. He played solidly efficient basketball, making six of eight shots. His final two points came on the kind of rugged, contested post move. The one that will make Washington a first-round NBA Draft pick in June.
However, Washington was not thinking about the first-round when he made that move. He was thinking about the fourth-round of the NCAA Tournament. He said, “I took some pain pills before the game. Kind of started hurting in the second half but I have to tough through it.”
He added “Through the end of the game it was trying to cramp up. I’m definitely going back to get some treatment after this and try to get a good night’s sleep.”
Further, Tyler Herro took it from there. He make a three-point jumper and two free throws in the final 25 seconds. Hence this secure Kentucky’s spot against Auburn at 2:20 p.m. Sunday in the Midwest Regional final at the Sprint Center.