UK Men's Basketball

A&M's Turner expects special attention from Kentucky on Saturday

Texas A&M's Elston Turner looked for an opening against Kentucky's Willie Cauley-Stein during their game Jan. 12. Turner scored 40 points in the game, including 20 of his team's first 29.
Texas A&M's Elston Turner looked for an opening against Kentucky's Willie Cauley-Stein during their game Jan. 12. Turner scored 40 points in the game, including 20 of his team's first 29. ASSOCIATED PRESS

Never mind being largely responsible for Kentucky's only Southeastern Conference home loss in John Calipari's four seasons as coach. Or becoming only the fourth college player — and first since 1990 — to score so abundantly in Rupp Arena.

When his 40 points led Texas A&M to an 83-71 victory at UK last month, Elston Turner did something, arguably, even more noteworthy: He completely satisfied his father.

"Normally, my dad finds something to criticize me about in a game," Turner said Thursday. "That game, he said he'd never seen me play like that. He told me, whatever I did, just try to do it every single game."

Turner hasn't come close to duplicating his production at Kentucky on Jan. 12. He scored only 41 points in the Aggies' next four games combined. In the five games between then and the teams' rematch Saturday at A&M, he's scored 52 points.

As the numbers suggest, opponents took notice of his 40 points at Kentucky and re-doubled their efforts to keep him contained.

"Before we played Kentucky, teams were still paying attention to me," he said. "But it was not as much as they are now. Since then, I see double teams almost every time I come off ball screens. They double team me, denying me catches.

"That's allowing me to backdoor a lot. I'm getting a lot of my points now from cutting back to the basket and getting layups. A lot of my stuff is just moving without the ball."

When Turner watched Kentucky throttle the SEC's leading scorer, Mississippi guard Marshall Henderson, Tuesday night, he saw a familiar sight. The Cats switched out onto Henderson when he tried to use screens. He scored a fitful 21 points, but made only five of 19 shots (two of 11 from three-point range).

"They made it tough for him to get open looks," Turner said. "Just made it tough for him to get into a rhythm.

"I feel they're going to do the same thing on Saturday."

His father, also named Elston Turner, scored 1,805 points for Ole Miss from 1977 through 1981. Now an assistant coach with the Phoenix Suns, the elder Turner said after the first A&M-Kentucky game that Calipari would make adjustments.

"Oh yeah," the player's father said a few days after the teams first played. "I'm sure Cal will come up with something. He's good that way."

Theoretically, the added attention on Turner should benefit his teammates.

"If the focus is too much on him, that's when other players come to life," the elder Turner said.

But who?

This week, A&M Coach Billy Kennedy lamented how his team needed other players besides Turner to be scoring threats.

"When you score 40 points, it gets the attention of not only coaches, but of players," he said.

When a caller on the SEC coaches' teleconference asked about any concern with lower scoring in college games, generally, Kennedy quipped, "It's a concern when it's me, and we struggle scoring."

Turner certainly did not struggle scoring in the first game against Kentucky. He made 14 of 19 shots, scored 20 of his team's first 29 points and never really cooled off. No player had scored that many points in an SEC game since UK's Jodie Meeks scored 46 at Arkansas on Feb. 14, 2009. It was a performance worth admiring again and again.

"I didn't watch it that many times," Turner said. "Probably once or twice. That's because my mom wanted to show me what she thought of it."

She approved.

So did his father ... for a change.

"Almost every game he finds something either I did wrong or something he wants me to do," Turner said. "Now that I'm older, I've learned to appreciate it and try to take what he tells me.

"But back in high school, I just kind of blew it off. C'mon. ... Now, I take it with a business approach."

Turner surprised UK with his range. He made six of 10 three-point shots. Since then, he's made only six more shots from beyond the arc (in 28 attempts).

Overall, he's made only 18 of 57 shots (31.6 percent).

"It's part of the game," he said. "Every time I do miss, I'm going to shoot the next one like I made the last four or five shots in a row. Eventually, it's going to start clicking.

"Hopefully, that starts on Saturday."


Kentucky at Texas A&M

When: 6 p.m. Saturday (ESPN)

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