GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) — No. 6 Kentucky will be without starting point guard Ashton Hagans at Florida on Saturday.
Coach John Calipari made the announcement on Twitter about an hour before tipoff.
“Ashton did not make the trip with us to Florida,” Calipari posted. “He and I met a couple days ago and he asked to step away for a couple days for personal reasons. I support his decision. We are going to need him at 100% for the postseason.”
Hagans, a sophomore, is averaging 11.5 points and leads the team in assists and steals. A solid defender, he's been hampered by thigh and shoulder injuries this season
On Tuesday night, Hagans and Calipari argued on the bench during Kentucky's 81-73 home loss to Tennessee. Hagans reportedly refused to enter with about 14 minutes left in the game.
The Wildcats had a 17-point lead early in the second half before the Volunteers outscored them 29-9 over 10:09 to lead 63-60.
Hagans and forward Nick Richards had several exchanges throughout the Tennessee game. Asked afterward, Calipari said it was likely due to both players making mistakes.
On Friday, Calipari tried to downplay any controversy.
“Heat of the moment, some of that stuff," Calipari said. "When you coach young kids, this is what pops out sometimes. And you won’t believe this, I get emotional, so I don’t mind when other people get emotional. I get it.
“Look, I’ve done this before: There are sometimes I’ll go to a guy and ask him, ‘Do you want to go in?’ If he says, ‘No,’ I say, ‘OK.' We move on,” Calipari said. “Some of it’s late-game stuff because I had to sit there when I played and there’s 25 seconds left in the game and you go, ‘OK, go in and get that guy.’
"We’ve got a young team that’s growing and learning and learn from every situation.”
The Wildcats (24-6, 14-3 Southeastern Conference) have already clinched the No. 1 seed in the SEC Tournament.
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