December 2, 2011

Calipari wants more than points from Jones

If you think John Calipari only doles out tough love to his point guards, he'd like to remind you there are high expectations all around.

That's especially true for sophomore forward Terrence Jones. Never mind the fact that Jones scored a season-high 26 points and had nine rebounds in Kentucky's 81-59 win over St. John's on Thursday. Calipari wants to see more.

"Terrence is going to have to play better these next two games," Calipari said with dates against North Carolina and Indiana approaching. "It's not even about numbers. You have to come up with balls, you've got to be where you're supposed to. You have to show leadership by coming up with balls and taking charges."

Jones' performance, largely lost in the shuffle of Anthony Davis' near-miss of the second triple-double in school history, paced the Kentucky offense. He finished 7-12 from the field while adding four blocks and four steals.

He also set career-highs with 11 made free throws on 16 attempts. At one point in the second half, he had eight free throw attempts in a 15-second span. He made five of them.

Calipari has told Jones he needs to rebound better moving forward. It's also about starting off right. Jones had two turnovers in the Wildcats' first six possessions as the Kentucky offense stumbled a bit out of the gate.

"I think that's mainly what he's talking about, the way he feels I start the game and the team starts the game," Jones said. "We usually go to me the first two plays (offensively)."

Once Jones settled in, though, he was fine. Thanks in large part to an offense ignited by a school-record 18 blocks and 19 turnovers by the Red Storm, the Wildcats often found themselves in transition.

"We're playing a lot faster because of how many turnovers we're getting on steals or blocks," he said.

He already had 13 points by halftime, capping it off with a powerful putback dunk when Marquis Teague missed a free throw with five seconds remaining in the half. Jones came free off his man for a two-handed slam.

For a team that's been stifling defensively, Jones' leadership and consistency on offense will be key. As long as the Cats go to Jones early in games, that will start with him.

"We can be real dangerous when we do get it going offensively," Jones said.

Outside of Davis' dominant performance, Kentucky's freshmen struggled. Teague, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Kyle Wiltjer combined to go 4-21 from the field.

Those are the kind of numbers that worry Calipari. He'll need Jones to be the rock of the offense on Saturday when Kentucky faces North Carolina.

"These next two games are vital because you cannot count on young players - freshmen - to go in there in these kinds of games," Calipari said. "The next two are going to be ridiculously hard for us. If we don't have that from him, it's going to be really hard."

Darius' dunk

Jones' two-handed slam off Teague's missed free throw would normally qualify as the dunk of the night.

Darius Miller had something to say about that.

The senior caught a lob from Doron Lamb with one hand behind his head in mid-air transition with 3:49 to go in the game, cuffed it, and powered it through.

Miller hadn't seen the replay after the game, but said it was probably the best dunk of his career. He certainly reacted like it. Miller walked away from the basket as soon as the play was over as the Rupp Arena crowd exploded.

"I was just in the moment," Miller said.
Miller isn't one of the Wildcats known for his ferocious dunks, but it didn't surprise his teammates.

"That was nothing new today that we saw," Lamb said. "We see it a lot in practice."

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