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This was the moment John Calipari got fed up with Terrence Jones.
With 6:28 left to play, down seven points, Jones was subbed out.
UK made a 6-0 run to close within one. Jones was subbed back in at the 3:14 mark.
He was promptly beat by his man on a layup and subbed back out at the 2:59 mark.
Heading back to the huddle, Jones asked Anthony Davis where the help defense was. Davis held up four fingers, signifying his foul trouble. He couldn’t be fouling to save two points. Even as Calipari talked in the huddle, Jones was still talking with Davis about the play.
But it was simple: Jones got beat, just as he got beat all night.
“That just showed it wasn’t his day,” Calipari said. “That’s where I said, that’s it. I’m not even going to try. We gotta try to win this game, we’ll deal with you when we get home.”
That was the unlikely best strategy for UK: to park Terrence Jones on the bench and try to win the game without him.
Calipari reminded us that he’s not a machine or a computer, and everyone has bad games, and this is true.
But if you’re supposed to be a top-three player in the nation, as Calipari has proclaimed, and you’ve changed your habits and focus, as Calipari has proclaimed, your “bad” game should not look THIS bad: three shots, four points, one rebound and six turnovers in 28 minutes.
“He absolutely gave us zero today,” Calipari said.
Jones was weak going for rebounds. He broke off plays and tried to do his own thing. He just wasn’t there. UK’s leading scorer was non-existent when it needed him most.
“Like I said, everybody struggles a game or two,” Darius Miller said. “You have a game you struggle, you bounce back. I know Terrence will, because I know the type of player and person he is.”
He will. But a disappearing act — a complete and utter vanishing act — like that is not a good sign. You know why some pundits prefer Kansas’ Thomas Robinson over Jones? Because Jones can lack that motor, that energy, at times. Against Indiana was certainly one of those times.
I don’t know why Jones didn’t play well. Maybe some outside issue was gnawing at him. Maybe it was just one of those weary days. Maybe he took a nap before the game.
“You’d have to talk to him,” Calipari said when asked what was wrong with him.
But Jones wasn’t available, so what did you see from him?
“I didn’t see a whole lot,” Calipari said. “I saw turnovers. Not a lot of rebounds.”
UK might be able to withstand a “bad” day that consists of eight points and three rebounds. Not four points and one rebound.
“It’s good to know you can win without him,” Calipari said.
But UK didn’t win.
Jones’ disappearance was a big reason why.
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