By outlasting Wofford 62-56 on Saturday, Kentucky earned another Sweet 16 spot — the eighth such appearance in John Calipari’s decade in Lexington. That’s the good news. The bad news is that everyone in Big Blue Nation is left wondering when — and whether — P.J. Washington will take the court again for the Wildcats.

Will Washington play this week, when Kentucky faces Houston on Friday night, with a potential Elite Eight rematch with North Carolina or Auburn lurking in the wings Sunday? The verdict is certainly still out.  Meanwhile, Kentucky has to at least be making contingency plans of facing Houston without Washington. Here are three potential keys for the Wildcats to survive without their star, or with his at substantially less than full power.

1. The shorter bench has to play even better

After rolling to an easy win without Washington on Thursday, the Wildcats definitely had to dig deeper Saturday against Wofford. Kentucky survived in large part due to production from its bench. Freshman Jemarl Baker, who didn’t even play in the Tennessee loss in the SEC Tournament, contributed 8 pivotal points in 18 minutes, helping shadow the dangerous Wofford 3-point specialists. Sophomore center Nick Richards was a key rim-protector off the bench as well, and good minutes from one or both (or freshman guard Immanuel Quickley) will be necessary if Washington can’t play.

Kentucky also has to avoid foul trouble and certainly any further injuries. Keldon Johnson was limited to 22 minutes by fouls and at one point, Reid Travis came out of the game for some adjustment on his recently injured knee. With three scholarship players and a walk-on constituting the bench, those players have to come to play — but also might serve the UK cause best if they don’t have to contribute too much.

2. Johnson and Herro have to make shots

Kentucky’s perimeter scorers, Tyler Herro and Keldon Johnson, both need to play more like they did against Abilene Christian (they combined to shoot 17-for-28, including 3-for-7 from 3-point land) and less like they did against Wofford (they combined to shoot 6-for-19, including 2-for-9 from 3-point land). Johnson particularly struggled, as he followed a near career-high 25 points in the NCAA opener with 9 points — and 4 fouls—in 22 minutes against Wofford. Kentucky’s lineup includes enough players who are either no threat or little threat from the perimeter than the two players who statistically should be able to make open shots have to make open shots.

Given Washington’s solid chops in the low post, people forget that he was also Kentucky’s statistically most accurate 3-point threat. If he can’t be out there to make shots for the Wildcats, somebody can at least pick up his 3-point slack.

3. Own the backboard

On a weekend when Kentucky prepares to face a strong defensive Houston team and then either a superb rebounding UNC squad or 3-point bombing Auburn, the Wildcats have to own the backboard against either the Cougars or Tigers … and not get crushed if they face the Tar Heels. With 11 boards from Reid Travis against Wofford, UK finished with a +6 margin on the glass.

Kentucky was just 3-2 this season when it was outrebounded. Funny enough, Houston had an identical record under the same circumstances.

Between the two, the teams thus went 56-5 when they weren’t outrebounded. If Washington’s 7.5 boards per game are out of the mix, Reid Travis, E.J. Montgomery, and Nick Richards have to step up if Kentucky wants to stay on the right side of the rebounding margin … and in the tournament.