John Clay: Terrence Jones' mistake could have been worse

Jones' adventure brings curfew

Herald-Leader Sports ColumnistNovember 12, 2011 

My dear departed grandmother used to say that nothing good happened after 11 o'clock at night.

She grew up in the 1920s, however, so we might want to update that to say that nothing good happens after midnight.

But on a Friday night in Rupp Arena, plenty of good things can happen after 7 p.m. Or, given the way the Cats played in the first half of their regular-season opener against the Marist Red Foxes, maybe we should say after 8 p.m.

After allowing the visitors to shoot 50 percent in the first half, UK's defense clamped down to hold Marist to 17.1 percent shooting in the second stanza on the way to a blowout 108-58 victory before a crowd of 22,079.

For most of the day, however, the talk among the Big Blue Nation had to do with what did or did not happen well after midnight the night before, in the early-morning hours on a Lexington street.

At 2:30 a.m., a car carrying first-team All-America forward Terrence Jones and quasi-teammate Stacey Poole was hit by an allegedly drunk driver.

To make matters worse, Jones departed the scene of the accident either because (a) he didn't want to get into an altercation with the driver of the other vehicle, or (b) other more nefarious reasons. Head coach John Calipari posted (a) on his Web site. But WLEX-TV in Lexington, citing sources, suggested that Jones left the scene because, well, nothing good happens after 11 p.m. at night.

After the game, Jones said it had nothing to do with (b).

"I take full responsibility for being out late. I really let my team down by making us have curfew," said the sophomore from Oregon. "When it comes to me drinking and all that other stuff, none of that's true. If they had cameras or pictures, whoever said they seen me, really if they got it then I want to see it, I know for a fact I wouldn't do that."

Still, Jones began the game uncharacteristically on the bench. He entered seven minutes into the first half, but truth be told, he played much like someone who had been out at 2:30 a.m. with a game (and class) the next day.

Not that his teammates were doing a whole lot better. Marist, a team that won seven games over the past two years, led the No. 2 team in the nation 18-17 with 13:39 left in the first half.

The Red Foxes were either driving to the basket, or kicking it and burying threes. With 4:02 remaining before intermission, the Kentucky lead was just 38-34. It was 45-36 Cats at the break.

"Without Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Anthony Davis, we're down at the half," said Calipari.

But the second half, the after-burners kicked in. Anthony Davis started swatting shots. Kentucky made steals, got out on the break, lobbed for dunks, and extended a comfortable lead to cruise control.

You couldn't say that for Jones, who had eight points and nine rebounds in 25 minutes. "I was surprised he played as well as he did," said Calipari. "He came in here knowing everybody was looking at him. He's embarrassed."

Made available to the media, Jones said he left the scene because "I was afraid that Coach Cal would find out," that he never saw the other driver much less entered into any kind of argument. He said he called an assistant coach immediately and asked him not to tell Calipari. That didn't work, however. The head coach found out. The head coach always finds out.

Bottom line: On the one hand, Jones is considered a veteran leader, a veteran who was said to have matured heading into his second season. On the other hand, he is a veteran in that he is a sophomore on a freshman-oriented team. He is still a kid, 20 years old. Kids make mistakes. And this mistake could have been far worse.

Meanwhile, Calipari told his team Friday he was instituting a curfew of 11 p.m. on weeknights and midnight on weekends. My grandmother would have approved.

Reach John Clay at 859-231-3226 or 1-800-950-6397, ext. 3226, or Read his blog at

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