Kentucky’s Terrence Jones is leading all freshmen in scoring, but coach John Calipari isn’t sure he deserves a spot in the starting lineup.
Jones and the 12th-ranked Wildcats look to overcome their road inconsistency Tuesday night when they visit Alabama.
Jones’ 18.6 points per game are the most among Division I freshmen. After scoring 35 in a 78-54 win over Auburn last Tuesday, he finished with 17 points and seven rebounds in Kentucky’s 82-44 victory over LSU on Saturday. Both performances came in a reserve role.
Calipari said he wants Jones, who was named SEC freshman of the week Monday, to work on his passing. He has no assists in the last three games.
“I don’t know yet,” Calipari said when asked if Jones would start Tuesday. “Right now he’s not passing as much as he needs to. … It’s kind of like Brandon (Knight). We need you to run our team and pass the ball, but I need you to score some baskets too. (Am I) asking a lot of him? Yeah, but I think he’s capable.”
Doron Lamb, who has started the last two games in Jones’ place, and he helped the Wildcats (14-3, 2-1) get off to a fast start Saturday with six points and five assists in the first half. Kentucky took a 48-19 lead into the break against the Tigers, who shot 26.2 percent for the game.
“We’re talking (about) a young team,” Calipari said. “We seem to start games better. We seem to play better defense.”
After playing their last two at home, the Wildcats are back on the road for the first time since a 77-70 loss at Georgia on Jan. 8. Kentucky has split its four road games.
The Wildcats have won three of their last four visits to Alabama (10-7, 2-1) and five straight overall in the series. However, the Crimson Tide are 9-0 this season in Tuscaloosa.
Alabama returns home after a 70-65 loss at Arkansas on Saturday. The 70 points allowed were the most by the Tide since an 82-70 loss at Providence on Dec. 11. For the season they are allowing an SEC-low 56.8 points per game, including 48.2 at home.
“For us, our defense has given us a chance in every game,” coach Anthony Grant said. “Kentucky obviously poses a great challenge with the offensive weapons they come at you with and the way they run their offense.”
Grant’s team couldn’t sustain its defense against the Razorbacks after taking a 33-29 lead into the break. Arkansas shot 54.2 percent after halftime.
Trevor Releford scored 17 points and JaMychal Green added 16 in the loss.
Kentucky is the first ranked opponent Alabama is facing this season. The Tide went 2-6 against teams in the Top 25 in 2009-10.