Lamar-Kentucky Preview

The Associated Press

Kentucky has one final tuneup before a major showdown for which it hopes Terrence Jones will be ready.

Jones, though, could return to action Wednesday night when the No. 3 Wildcats try to improve to 42-0 at home under John Calipari as they meet Lamar.

Kentucky (11-1) is close to welcoming back Jones, who has missed the last two games with a dislocated finger. The preseason All-American is third on the team with 12.4 points and 6.2 rebounds per game.

Jones has been practicing in preparation for this game. The Wildcats have a bigger one set for Saturday when their longest-ever win streak at Rupp Arena will get a more stern test against No. 4 Louisville.

Kentucky has not played since Thursday's 87-63 win over Loyola (Md.). Although Calipari let his team have some time off for the holidays afterward, he's making sure his players focus on the season since they do not have class at this time.

"I told them, 'Between now and Jan. 9, you're eating, sleeping and playing basketball. That's it. You're playing basketball, you're eating and you're sleeping,'" Calipari said. "They don't have anything to do now."

The Wildcats have won three straight by an average of 27.0 points. Darius Miller has averaged 15.0 points in starting the last two games in place of Jones.

Doron Lamb averaged 25.0 points in the first two games of this win streak before being limited to nine against Loyola. But individual statistics mean little for a Wildcats team loaded with talent.

"At the end of the day, I like my team," Calipari said. "I've got a good team. And when we click and we all come together and we're all playing aggressive and we're all bouncing and talking and we're all making easy plays, this stuff gets scary. We're not close to that right now. But this thing could get scary."

Lamar (8-4) is playing a ranked opponent for the second straight game, falling 70-50 at No. 2 Ohio State last Tuesday as the Cardinals shot 35.1 percent.

"The bottom line is, even if you don't (win), we're not going to play anybody as good as they are," coach Pat Knight said. "We're not going to play in front of this many people. So from that standpoint, this does nothing but help our team get ready for (the Southland) Conference."

Stan Brown had 10 points and 10 rebounds as Lamar had a four-game win streak snapped.

The Cardinals missed all 12 3-point attempts, failing to make at least one for the first time since a win over Tulane on Jan. 2, 2010.

"We can't shoot 3s," Knight said. "The problem is, that was their goal last year, to shoot a lot of them."

These teams are among the nation's best on the glass. The Cardinals are tops in the Southland with 42.3 rebounds per game while the Wildcats lead the SEC at 41.3.

Kentucky has won both previous meetings, 71-56 on Dec. 13, 1986, and 103-61 on Dec. 3, 2008.