Whatever put All-America candidate Terrence Jones into a funk at Indiana won't hinder him going forward, Kentucky Coach John Calipari said Friday.
"I think he'll be fine," Calipari said. "He knows. You can't do that again. He's a good kid. He had a bad game, for whatever reason."
UK planned to make Jones available to reporters on Friday, Calipari said. Question One was obvious: what made Jones look almost disinterested at Indiana, where he took three shots, scored four points, committed six turnovers and grabbed just one rebound in 28 minutes?
Alas, Jones arrived at practice too late to meet with reporters, Calipari said.
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As Kentucky attempted to rally for a come-from-behind victory at Indiana, Calipari benched Jones.
"Not a message (to Jones)," the UK coach said. "If we leave him in, we're not winning. That was the message."
On his weekly radio show earlier in the week, Calipari said that practices leading into the Indiana game had not been tough enough. This affected Jones more so than other UK players.
Those practices, which Calipari described as "scripted" and intended to polish players, robbed Jones of the "edge" he had had, the UK coach said.
"I told him, you've got to be the roughest guy out there, the guy going after every ball," Calipari said.
For an example, the UK coach noted how Jones was not an offensive force against UConn in the Final Four last spring. He scored 11 points, but he also grabbed 15 rebounds and added a career-high four steals.
"He knows," Calipari said. "This is a kid who understands. He knows he screwed it up. Now, he'll come back and be fine."
Calipari likened Jones to DeMarcus Cousins, whose missteps two seasons ago prompted many questions.
"Are you concerned about him not growing up? (Being) immature?" Calipari said in recalling the questions. Then the UK coach said of Jones, "He'll be fine."
Teammate Anthony Davis suggested that the subpar performance and subsequent fan/media reaction affected Jones.
"It made him even madder," said Davis, who noted how Jones had been going through extra workouts. "... He's been (ticked) off."
Kentucky plays Saturday night against Chattanooga.
In preparation for that game and, more likely, the rest of the season, Calipari said he conducted more strenuous practices this week.
"One thing I learned after that game with Indiana was, we need to have a little more roughhouse practices, a little tougher, and we need more conditioning," the UK coach said.
Kentucky also worked on what Calipari called "situational stuff." This was in reference to the final 5.6 seconds at Indiana when UK failed to use either of its two available team fouls, thus squandering a chance to rob Indiana of precious seconds. Instead, the Hoosiers won 73-72 when an open Christian Watford hit a three-pointer from the left wing at the buzzer.
"You can't blame them if you haven't covered a lot of stuff," Calipari said in defense of his players.
The UK coach also suggested that good fortune plays a role in end-of-game scenarios."At the end of the day, you can't predict even with three seconds or five seconds what's going to happen," Calipari said. "You've got to have a player make a play like Anthony made."
Davis blocked John Henson's shot with about seven seconds left to preserve Kentucky's 73-72 victory over North Carolina the previous weekend.
Of his freshman- and sophomore-oriented team, Calipari said, "They just haven't been in many of these deals."
Kentucky continues to work on playing together, being mindful of time-and-score considerations and executing. "All those things," Calipari said.
The UK coach noted the competitiveness shown, particularly by Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Marquis Teague and Doron Lamb.
"It's hard to teach will to win," he said. "I think we have that. So that's a good sign."