BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – After helping lead Kentucky to its first win over a No. 1 ranked team since 2011, sophomore forward PJ Washington (pictured) was named the Southeastern Conference Player of the Week. It’s the second time this season Washington has hauled in the league’s top-performing player honor.
The Dallas native averaged 21.5 points per game in two games against top-25 ranked teams. He had a game-high 20 points to couple with nine boards, three assists and a steal against No. 19/21 LSU. Washington then followed that with a game-high 23 points to go along with five boards, two steals and an assist against the top-ranked Tennessee Volunteers. The win signified the first victory over the No. 1 team since the Cats downed No. 1 Ohio State during the 2011 NCAA Tournament. The 17-point margin of victory was the second largest in program history and the biggest since an 81-40 win over top-ranked St. John’s in 1951.
Washington dominated offensively against Tennessee. He shot 75 percent from the field on 9-of-12 shooting. He had two key stretches of points in the convincing win including helping Kentucky race out to a 3-2 lead it would never relinquish. After the Volunteers opened the scoring, he drained a 3-pointer from the top of the key and scored UK’s first seven points. Washington then had four in a row after UT put together a 13-0 run in the second half.
For the week, he shot 64 percent from the field and has topped the 20-point plateau in four straight. He’s the first UK player to score 20 or more in four consecutive games since Malik Monk scored 20 or more in four straight from Nov. 23 to Dec. 3, 2016. Washington has logged 20 or more points in seven of UK’s last eight games as he continues to play the best basketball of his career.
Washington has scored in double figures in 10 straight to become the first Kentucky player to achieve the feat since Shai Gilgeous-Alexander had 10 in a row from Feb. 20 to March 22, 2018.
The 6-foot-8 forward has now won the league’s SEC Player of the Week honor for the second time in three weeks. He’s Kentucky’s first two-time winner since Tyler Ulis earned the award three times during the 2015-16 season. Ulis would go on to win SEC Player of the Year that season. He’s the fourth Wildcat under John Calipari to earn the honor multiple times in a season joining Anthony Davis (2011-12), Julius Randle (2013-14) and Ulis.
Kentucky has won more weekly SEC honors (98) than any other school during the Calipari era, including 78 SEC Freshman of the Week honors and 20 SEC Player of the Week awards.
Washington is averaging 21.0 points, 8.1 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 1.3 blocks and 1.1 steals per game while shooting 54.4 percent and 50.0 percent from behind the arc over the last eight games. He’s averaging 16.6 points, 7.4 rebounds and shooting 54.3 percent from the field in Kentucky’s seven games vs. Associated Press Top 25 opponents.
For the season, Washington is averaging a team-high 14.8 points and a team-best 8.0 rebounds. He’s shooting 52.6 percent from the floor and 43.4 percent from long range.
Washington also was named the Oscar Robertson National Player of the Week by the U.S. Basketball Writers Association, it was announced Tuesday.
The Wildcats return to action Tuesday at 9 p.m. ET at Missouri. That game will be televised on the ESPN. It’s the lone regular-season matchup with the Tigers this season.
Photo by Jamie H. Vaught