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December 20, 2011

With Jones sidelined, Lamb steps up for Cats

You can stretch for Doron Lamb's shot, but good luck blocking it.

Samford defenders tried in vain Tuesday at Rupp Arena as Lamb lofted his trademark floater over outstretched hands. He finished with 26 points in Kentucky's 82-50 win, 12 from behind the three-point line, but many on the throwback floater his mom helped him hone.

"She taught me to do that, because when I was young, I used to always go to the rack," Lamb said. "I would never shoot it. I'd always go to the basket, and I was always getting blocked. So my mom just told me to shoot floaters over big guys."

They'd practice in the park back in New York City, Lamb and his mother. She'd instruct him on the way to shoot that floater over longer defenders.

All these years later, Lamb's still honing.

Now you'll find him in the Joe Craft Center. He's got the floater down, so now he's bettering his ballhandling. He sweats through a jump-shot-and-cardio combo that helps him keep firing through fatigue.

"My freshman year, I was getting a little tired," Lamb said. "I couldn't make shots (late in games) because I was tired. Now I'm in shape."

The results are showing on the court.

With fellow sophomore Terrence Jones sidelined - he sat out Tuesday's game with a dislocated pinky on his left hand - Lamb is picking up the scoring slack.

In the past two games, against Chattanooga when the injury limited Jones to 10 minutes, and against Samford on Tuesday, Lamb has scored a combined 50 points on 18-of-29 shooting, including 8-of-15 from three-point range.

To hear Lamb and his teammates tell it, it all stems from these season-long extra sessions at the Craft Center.

"Doron's been putting in the extra work," forward Anthony Davis said. "Before practice, after practice, in the gym shooting, ballhandling, attacking the basket. He's working out with some of the coaches and it's really showing on the court."

In Lamb's recent performances, "you're seeing the benefit" of the extra hours, UK coach John Calipari said.

It showed against Samford. Though Kentucky (9-1) was sometimes sluggish - Samford made 56.7 percent of its two-point shots, thanks in large part to backdoor cuts that confounded the Cats - Lamb was consistent, scoring 16 points in the first half and 10 in the second.

He took himself out of the game late in the second half with a wrist injury that x-rays indicated wasn't serious, he said.

"I just bent it a little bit on somebody's back, I think," Lamb said. "I'm good."

And on the court, he's putting in the time to get better.

"It's worth it," Lamb said. "I've just got to keep doing what I'm doing so far. I can't let up. It's paying off. The hard work in the gym's paying off."


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