Film study and the presence of fellow freshman Julius Randle helped snap James Young out of what one of his Kentucky teammates called "a little funk."
Billed as a shooter, Young made only 16 of 45 shots (35.6 percent) in UK's first four games. He'd made only five of 23 three-point shots (21.7 percent) against Northern Kentucky, Michigan State and Robert Morris.
It was after Young made one of six shots from beyond the arc against Robert Morris that UK Coach John Calipari called him in for film study.
"When I was shooting it against Robert Morris, I kept leaning back and my feet weren't set," Young said. "So me and Coach Cal just watched a couple films and corrected it."
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to the Lexington Herald-Leader
The correction came in the form of 8-for-14 shooting (5-for-10 from three-point range) in Kentucky's 105-76 victory over Texas-Arlington on Tuesday night.
Young, whom Calipari has called the best shooter in the country, acknowledged the frustration that comes with poor shooting.
"Yeah, I was frustrated," he said after his career-high 26 points made him the third different UK player to score 20-plus points in a game this season. "I usually make shots, so when Coach Cal showed me that, I was just mind-blown. And we easily fixed it."
Anybody ever pointed out something like that in the past?
"Not at all. And that's why I love Coach Cal. He points out everything. He saw what was wrong with my shot, and he helped me with it."
After the victory over UT-Arlington, Calipari said he had noticed that Young shot differently in recent games. During the recruiting process, the UK coach had not seen Young lean his shoulders back while shooting.
"You lean your shoulders back because your legs aren't under you and you're trying to get a little more oomph on your shot," Calipari said. "And when you do that, you're basically fading away. You're not going to be an aggressive consistent shooter on fade-away shots."
Leaning back his shoulders led to a shooting motion that left him off-balance, Young said.
Apparently, Young leaned back on free throws, too. He made only six of 13 foul shots in the first four games before going 4-for-4 against UT-Arlington.
"Right after that, I got some shots up with (Kenny Payne) and Orlando (Antigua)," he said. "Got my shoulders straight, and everything was fine."
No doubt the attention UT-Arlington paid to Randle helped give Young uncontested shots. The Mavericks followed what's quickly becoming conventional wisdom by collapsing defenders on Randle and taking the chance that Kentucky won't make perimeter shots.
"It's kind of like you pick your poison," UT-Arlington Coach Scott Cross said.
Randle and Young foiled that sound strategy. Three of Young's five three-pointers were set up by passes from Randle out of the low post.
"I'd rather get beat from the outside and make them hit jump shots versus letting (Randle) score at will from the block," Cross said.
Young welcomed the possibility that opponents will play zone in an attempt to contain Randle and Kentucky's other big men. "I love when teams play zone because that just gets open shots for everybody," he said. "If we just drive a little bit more and kick it to the opposite wing, I feel like we can get even more shots. Our wings just have to work on driving more often."
The good shooting eased the growing anxiety Young felt.
"It was a little pressure off my shoulders, because I wasn't really doing what I should be doing," he said. "I just have to get a couple of extra shots up — during practice, after practice. And I got here earlier and shot a little bit before everybody.
"Once the mechanics were right, and I was doing what Coach Cal told me to, I knew it was going to be a good night."
After the victory over UT-Arlington, Calipari again noted how Young and others have to shrug off poor shooting and concentrate on finding other ways to contribute. Young pleaded guilty.
"I tend to put my head down a lot when I miss shots," he said. "He's just been getting on me, saying, 'Just let the shot go and just keep moving on. There will be more shots.' So I just listen to him and try to not put my head down. Just keep moving on with the game."
Teammate Andrew Harrison found Young's good shooting against UT-Arlington as no surprise.
"He was in a little funk, but everybody knew he was going to get out of that soon," he said. "He's a great scorer, so I knew it was coming."
James Young's statistics
Games played: 5
Minutes per game: 28.6
Points per game: 14.2
Field-goal percentage: 40.7
3-point FG percentage: 31.6
Free-throw percentage: 55.0
GAME BY GAME
Opponent FG 3FG FT Pts
UNC Asheville 3-10 2-5 3-6 11
Northern Kentucky 2-8 1-6 0-0 5
Michigan State 7-16 3-11 2-5 19
Robert Morris 4-11 1-6 1-2 10
Texas-Arlington 8-14 5-10 5-7 26
Totals 24-59 12-38 11-20 71