COLUMN: Jones breaks record off bench



A late start didn’t slow down freshman forward Terrence Jones.

After a handful of sluggish starts this season, Jones found himself on the bench during tip-off for the first time this season. In past games in which Jones had slow starts, namely Saturday’s game in Georgia, he still found a way to post his usual double-double. Tuesday night he took it to a whole new level.

Jones was uncertain what his availability for the game would be due to illness.

“I just had the mindset of coming in today trying to play my hardest,” Jones said. “(UK head coach John Calipari) told me not to use the excuse that I was sick. I didn’t practice yesterday, so I didn’t know how much I was going to be able to play today, how much the trainer was going to let me play.”

Despite not seeing the floor until the fifteen-minute mark of the first half, Jones posted 35 points against Auburn, breaking the freshman scoring record set by teammate Doron Lamb against Winthrop in December. Before this season, the record stood for 19 years since being set by Jamal Mashburn in 1991.

“He had 35 today, broke my record,” Lamb said. “I don’t think he can say he was sick anymore.”

Not only did Jones break the record, but like Lamb, he did it coming off the bench.

“He had 27 points with like eight minutes to go,” Lamb said. “I knew he was going to break it. I didn’t care though … You never know, somebody else might break it. You just have to keep watching.”

Jones felt for his teammate and his short-lived record and the two had a visible playful exchange when Jones headed to the bench for the last time.

“I told him ‘I’m sorry,’” Jones said.

Calipari threatened to sit Jones at the start of games in response to his slow starts after the Georgia game and the combination of that and sickness found Jones on the bench, former record-holder Lamb took his spot in the starting rotation Tuesday night.

While Jones was two rebounds short of another double-double, he shot 65 percent from the field including going 4 of 5 from behind the arc. He also posted three steals and two blocks.

Jones’ play was the spark his offense needed. He was one of two UK players to make it to the free throw line, and his hustle seemed substantially improved from his play in Athens.

While Jones led the Cats in scoring after the half with 13, it seemed the team was going to find their scoring rather evenly distributed. True to form, Jones woke up for the second half and changed the game’s dynamic.

He would post 22 in the second half, and his 35 would make up almost half of the Cats’ total points.

While benching Jones was most likely more of a statement than a permanence, the freshman scoring record has been broken twice this season, and each player has done so coming off the bench.