ATLANTA — Considering his desultory performance at Indiana in December, it seemed appropriate that Kentucky forward Terrence Jones would recall that game with a double-negative.
"I don't take nothing from that game," Jones said Thursday on the eve of Kentucky playing Indiana in the NCAA Tournament.
Jones, a 6-foot-8 sophomore, set season lows for shots (three) and rebounds (one) while committing a season-high six turnovers at Indiana. Worse, UK Coach John Calipari benched him down the stretch.
"They doubled me and I started thinking too much," Jones said. "... I never put so much pressure on myself as I did in that game. I learned from that, and moved on."
When asked how long it took him to get over his poor performance and UK's 73-72 loss, Jones lamented how he dislocated a finger in UK's next game (against Chattanooga) a week later.
"I couldn't really redeem myself or help my team out for a while after that," he said. "I just had to wait. Getting hurt factored into all that."
Jones dismissed the notion that he needed to play well in the rematch against Indiana to complete a personal redemptive process.
"Nah," he said. "How you're playing now is the only thing that matters."
Jones enters UK-IU II on a roll. Three of his four double-doubles this season have come in the last five games. He said he's followed Calipari's advice to concentrate on rebounding. He's had 52 rebounds in the Cats' last five games.
"That makes the game much easier for me," he said. "It makes the points come easier because I'm not thinking. I'm not trying to do things. I'm just letting the game come to me."
Forward Christian Watford on whether Indiana feared UK:
"Oh, not at all. We have no reason to."
IU Coach Tom Crean spoke of his team's 73-72 victory over UK in December having a long-term effect.
"We don't de-emphasize it, but we don't overemphasize it," he said. "... First and foremost, it gives players confidence.
"So (to) play a team like Kentucky, there's a lot of different stages that you've got to go through, and belief is a big part of that because they're so good."
A reporter asked IU's Derek Elston if the Hoosiers wanted to prove their December victory over UK was no fluke.
"A little bit," he said. "A win (Friday) would say the first game was for real."
A reporter sounded star-struck when he asked IU Coach Tom Crean about his team having to play Kentucky's many "future pros."
To which, Crean noted, "We have a lot of good players. Our focus is on our team. Our focus is not on Chad Ford's mock draft."
When asked about avenging the earlier loss to Indiana, UK players stayed on message. The Cats were not seeking revenge.
"I'm just worried about us," said Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, who last weekend spoke openly about making amends against IU. "I'm not worried about Indiana. They're just another team I want to beat."
Jones noted that NCAA Tournament implications dwarfed revenge as a motive.
"How we play now can define us," he said. "That loss can define us if we let it."
Kidd-Gilchrist to NBA?
Citing "multiple sources," ESPN.com reported Thursday that Michael Kidd-Gilchrist will enter this year's NBA Draft.
"I don't know where this is coming from," Kidd-Gilchrist posted on his Twitter account. "This is MY decision. Right now all I'm focused on my Teammates and winning games. After the season, I'll make a decision that's best for me and my family! Big Blue Nation Has nothing to worry about! Let's get NUMBER 8."
Player of the Year
Kentucky's Anthony Davis was selected Thursday as the winner of the Adolph Rupp Award, given annually by the Commonwealth Athletic Club of Kentucky to the national player of the year. Davis joined John Wall (2010) as the only UK players to win the award.
A torn anterior cruciate ligament ended Verdell Jones' season, and created an opportunity for freshman Remy Abell, a product of Louisville's Eastern High.
"What we saw in Remy when we recruited him has come to life," Crean said. "... I'm not going to say he replaces Verdell. Verdell scored almost 1,400 points (to be exact: 1,347). But in light of the situation, he's done a very good job."
Abell said Louisville offered him a scholarship, while Xavier and Western Kentucky showed interest.
"Kentucky didn't really recruit me," he said in a pleasant tone.
Of the game against UK, Abell said, "I know it means a lot for these guys. But it means a little more for me."
It will be a Teague brothers doubleheader in Atlanta on Friday night.
Atlanta Hawks guard Jeff Teague, the ex-Wake Forest star and older brother of UK point guard Marquis, will be in action at 7:30 against the New Jersey Nets in Philips Arena.
At roughly 9:45 p.m., Kentucky and Marquis Teague will face Indiana in the NCAA tourney in the Georgia Dome.
Jeff "said he'll be here to see me after their game," Marquis said. "He said he'll get here as soon as he can make it."
Xavier Coach Chris Mack lives in Crestview Hills, Ky. When asked how his neighbors would feel if Xavier beat Baylor on Friday and then Kentucky on Sunday, he said, "I wouldn't care how they felt if we won two games here this weekend. I don't know if my house would be standing.
"You can't live in Kentucky and not live next to a Kentucky fan. It's impossible. They've got a passionate fan base. It's nice because I can sort of slip in and be anonymous and do my deal."