Terrence Jones’ last few weeks ‘difficult’

Terrence Jones looked down and saw one finger did not match the rest.

After a play three games ago, Jones saw his pinky finger horizontal to the ground, while the others were vertical.

“I ain’t never seen my finger like that,” Jones said. “I wasn’t even in basketball mode anymore. I was just worried about my hand.”

It turned out to be a dislocated finger — not broken like he thought — that forced him to miss two games.

The games came at an inopportune time, as Jones had been ready to prove people wrong following a four-point, one-rebound game against Indiana. Instead, he was relegated to the bench. For the first time, he had to pick out what clothes he wanted to wear to a UK game.

“It’s been different and difficult,” Jones said of the past few weeks. “I’ve been fighting, working out to get back. It’s just been different with the injury, not being able to go out and play with my team like I want to right after a tough game.”

Jones got his chance to come back against Lamar. He didn’t start but checked in within three minutes of the game. He scored nine points with six rebounds in 27 minutes of action.

Even with those numbers, Jones was favoring the finger on his shooting hand. On one play, Jones drove left but finished the layup with his right hand. Jones called the limitations “aggravating,” because he can’t do everything he’s used to. It affects him most when he’s shooting because of the spacing — his pinky is taped to the adjacent finger for support.

“Just playing with my fingers stuck together is awkward right now for me,” Jones said.

Head coach John Calipari has been telling him not to focus on protecting the finger, but the pain is still present.

“Sometimes it feels like (the bone) is moving in my hand,” Jones said.

That’s no excuse for Calipari, who called Jones’ comeback game “OK” but quickly delved into what he did wrong. Calipari said Jones was going through the motions, so he forced the ball to go to Jones to see how he would do. He said Jones lacked toughness and defense.

“You’re either going to perform or you’re not,” Calipari said, “and there are no excuses why you’re not. … I’m telling you, he needs to step on the gas. He’s got to play like he’s fighting for minutes.”

It’s been a tough few weeks for Jones. Starting with sitting on the bench down the stretch as Indiana toppled his team and continuing through hearing his NBA draft stock was slipping, Jones isn’t in top form.

The next challenge: get the finger healed up. He admitted he’s still playing cautious because of the injury.

“Coach has been telling me not to,” Jones said. “That’s what I’m trying to do.”

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