Cats rout Tigers 78-54 behind Jones’ 35 off the bench



It came perfectly full circle. Terrence Jones had started the game on the bench, an unfamiliar spot for the usual starter. He was inserted into the game a little under four minutes into the game. He was taken out of the game with a little over two minutes left.

In between, he broke the UK freshman scoring record with 35 points. On the way out, with a standing ovation surrounding him, Jones passed Doron Lamb, who had held the record for all of four games.

“I told him ‘I’m sorry,’” Jones said to his teammate.

Lamb didn’t care. Neither did anybody else. The 35 points led No. 13 UK (13-3, 1-1 Southeastern Conference) past Auburn (7-9, 0-2 SEC) 78-54.

The record-breaking game almost didn’t happen. Jones was battling a sinus infection, and he said the decision on if he could play was left up to the trainer in the morning. The sickness, which Jones said left him coughing up mucus and blood, was the primary reason Jones started on the bench.

“(UK head coach John) Calipari told me not to use the excuse that I was sick,” Jones said.

No excuses were needed after a night like that. Jones added eight rebounds, which Calipari applauded more than the points after the game. He tied the record on a three-pointer and broke it on a free throw. On the night, Jones made 4 of 5 threes, and got to the free-throw line 13 times. And he hit a buzzer-beating 3-pointer at halftime.

“Yeah, that’s the best feeling, (with the clock) 5, 4, 3,” Jones said. “I wasn’t going to let that one (go).”

The 35 points and eight rebounds were the type of numbers he posted at the beginning of the year, the type that had thrust Jones into the Player of the Year debate early in the year. But he had cooled off recently, to the point where Calipari had mentioned the possibility of having him come off the bench after the loss to Georgia.

“Terrence is having to live up to how he played in Hawaii and Notre Dame,” Calipari said. “Every game he plays, he’s judged against those performances.”

It was a bounce back performance for Jones, and a bounce back game for UK, as well, after losing to Georgia in its SEC opener. Auburn had scored six points in the first half in its last game, and although they scored more than that against the Cats, it wasn’t by much. UK had a 41-21 halftime lead and never fell in danger of letting it slip away.

Despite maintaining a comfortable lead, UK came out flat in the second half, at times sloppy and stagnant.

“The way we’re playing, at spurts we were really good, and at other times (the way we played) we’re not beating the better teams in our league,” Calipari said.

Although Jones turned in a stellar performance – the only negative Calipari had to say was that he shot too many threes – the rest of the team had unspectacular performances. Josh Harrellson, the conference’s leading rebounder, had only four.

“Josh reverted to a year ago,” Calipari said. “That’s why he sat down [to begin the second half]. Didn’t have a rebound in the first half. That was who he was a year ago. Well, you don’t deserve to be on the court.”

Auburn threw multiple defenses at UK, from man-to-man to 2-3 zones to fullcourt traps, in hopes of slowing the Cats. It wasn’t working. UK made exactly half of its shots from the floor.

Calipari said it was a tough game to coach because his former player and assistant, Tony Barbee, was coaching on the sideline opposite him.

“Someone had to lose the game,” Calipari said, acknowledging the realities of basketball. “I absolutely did not want it to be me.”


John Calipari on Jones’ record-breaking performance:

Calipari part 2, on the rest of the team and the state of the Cats

Terrence Jones on his record-breaking performance:

Doron Lamb on his short-lived scoring record being broken: