“Well, I slept because Doron (Lamb) turned off the TV,” Jones said.
The snooze seemed to carry over into the game, as he shot 3-for-17 on his way to nine points. He fouled out with 3:38 left in the game as UK lost 75-73.
“Coach (John Calipari) told us we need to stay up for early games like that; if you’re sleepy it will drag into the game,” Jones said. “I guess he said that’s the reason why I played the way I played.”
It certainly appears that Jones won’t be catching a quick nap before No. 16 UK (5-2) plays No. 23 Notre Dame (8-0) in the SEC/Big East Invitational at 9:30 p.m.
“What you say to guys is, how you usually start is how you finish,” Calipari said. “He didn’t do a good job preparing to play, and from the beginning of the game he was never into the game. He was never emotionally connected.”
UK could use a better game from Jones against Notre Dame, which starts five seniors in stark contrast to the youthful Cats.
“You’re talking five seniors who have played through the wars,” Calipari said. “They play well off one another, and they don’t get rattled. They play a good zone, they go to it and stick with it.”
All the talk about a potential homecourt advantage from playing in Freedom Hall might not be valid considering Notre Dame has more experience on that court than the Cats.
“They [Notre Dame’s players] have played on that floor more than my guys,” Calipari said.
The undefeated Fighting Irish are led by senior guard Ben Hansbrough, who is averaging 15.8 points per game. Yes, the name is recognizable – he’s the brother of former North Carolina forward Tyler Hansbrough, now with the Indiana Pacers.
Along with Hansbrough in the starting lineup are four players all listed at 6-foot-8. One of those players, Tyrone Nash, was offered a scholarship during Tubby Smith’s last year with UK while he was a high school senior. He decided to go to prep school for another year, and ended up at Notre Dame. The team is well-rounded, with all of their starters averaging between nine and 16 points per game.
“They pump fake a lot and try to get you on your feet,” junior DeAndre Liggins said. “We have to stay disciplined. They catch you sleeping, they will go backdoor, and they do a lot of flex actions.”
Notre Dame’s eight wins include a double-overtime victory over Georgia and a win over Wisconsin. They haven’t played an away game yet this year, however, and that seems to be a possible advantage for UK.
Jones was asked what he expected from Freedom Hall, which will have blue on the court.
“Hopefully like here,” Jones said. “But it’s the first time I’ve ever been to Louisville’s gym in my life, so I don’t know about that.”