LEXINGTON — Anthony Davis was named Southeastern Conference player of the week as well as ESPN.com co-national player of the week for averaging 20 points, 8.0 rebounds, 7.5 blocks and 2.0 assists in wins over Tennessee and South Carolina, but Monday the talented freshman center said Kentucky teammate Terrence Jones deserves much of the credit for his success.
“Yeah, everybody feeds off of it, you know. When he’s playing hard, trying to dunk everything, finishing runs, getting ‘and-ones’, making free throws, making jumpers, you know everybody else gets pumped. When he’s playing like he’s supposed to play, everybody feeds off that,” said Davis.
Jones has averaged 18 points, 7.0 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 2.0 steals and 1.3 blocks per game in the last three outings, all one-sided wins for No. 1 Kentucky. He’s had just one turnover in those three games. He’s also shot 56.3 percent from the field and 90 percent (18-for-20) at the foul line.
He’s now averaging 12.5 points and 6.4 rebounds per game going into tonight’s game with Florida and is within 131 points of joining teammate Darius Miller in UK’s 1,000-point club. Jones shared his thoughts on Florida, his play, his recent finger injury and UK’s lofty ranking before practice Monday:
Question: What do you know about Florida?
Jones: “I know they are a tough team and they are going to come and challenge us at home.”
Question: How well do you know Florida sophomore center Patric Young?
Jones: “Real well. We have been roommates before at Hoop Summit when we were in high school. We text. That is one of my friends. Nice kid. Fun to be around. Real good player. Rebounds hard. Real strong. Good player.”
Question: How big an emphasis will there be on stopping Florida’s 3-point shooting considering Florida leads the nation with 10.3 3-pointers per game?
Jones: “That is a big part of their game. He (John Calipari) said if they make a lot of them, it will be a tough game for us. We have to play with high hands (on defense) like we have been the last few games.”
Question: What about comments from coaches Darrin Horn of South Carolina and Kevin Stallings of Vanderbilt that Florida does a lot of things to create open 3-point shots?
Jones: “I have not been doing the scouting. That is what Coach does. IÃ?Â¿don’t know what they do to get open.”
Question: How scary is it knowing a team shoots 3-pointers that well?
Jones: “It is an OK way to play. You can live or die by it. For us, we just have to play like we have been the last few games. We have been building off that. That’s what gets us going. We just have to make them drive and use high hands and contest. If they are going (in), they are going.”
Question: Why was North Carolina (11 3’s) and Indiana (9 3’s) successful from 3-point range against Kentucky?
Jones: “There were two different ways and two different games. North Carolina got a couple with us digging (inside on the post) and some loose balls just coming to players at the right time off blocked shots. Indiana was more off penetration and set plays. It was two different games. This will be its own game.”
Question: Do you position for rebounds any different against a team that shoots a lot of 3-pointers?
Jones: “The elbows (foul line) are usually the guards’ responsibility. When there are a lot of balls like that, Coach gets on them to come in and rebound at the elbow. For us, it is the same.”
Question: What does it do when Florida puts four players on the court that shoot the 3-pointer, including power forward Erik Murphy that you might have to guard?
Jones: “We switch any pick-and-roll.Ã?Â¿It’s usually me ending up on a guard, so I am used to it.”
Question: How do you avoid going from playing with swagger that coach Calipari likes to having arrogance that he says he doesn’t want?
Jones: “You respect your opponents. We feel every team we play is real good and makes us step it up. That’s what we have to depend on. It makes it easier just knowing we are playing really good teams and not underestimating anybody knowing how good Florida is.”
Question: What will this team learn this week by playing Florida and Vanderbilt, the other two top teams in the SEC?
Jones: “Nothing really. I just think we are getting better and it is another two games. We have been challenging ourselves to make sure being No. 1 is not a problem or even a thought in our heads. We are just playing good teams and trying to compete.”
Question: What potential problem is there with being No. 1?
Jones: “It’s not really any different for us. Teams always try to come in and beat us knowing who we are. It’s just something we were playing with even when we were not No. 1.”
Question: Does knowing the Kentucky women lost their first SEC game at Sunday deliver any message to you?
Jones: “IÃ?Â¿mean we have really prepared ourselves well. Guys coming in early and getting extra work. Been practicing real hard and carrying over to the games.”
Question: How much better do you feel about your play compared to two weeks ago?
Jones: “Real good. Just not having to worry about anything and being able to play like I want to.”
Question: What about Florida freshman Brad Beal saying they have a lot of swag and will come into Rupp Arena with confidence?
Jones: “That’s pretty much what swag is is confidence in your own way and style of play and believing in yourself. I think we have a lot of it, too.”
Question: How much game tape will you watch of Florida?
Jones: “Us? The players? About five minutes. We don’t watch too much film. We worry pretty much about how we play. He (Calipari) prepares us for the sets they are going to run and that’s pretty much it. I like not watching film. I could not handle it. I might go to sleep. We keep it real short and stay active.”
Question: Is there any pain left in the pinky finger you dislocated in mid-December?
Jones: “Naw. It is good. I am just playing and it feels good.”
Question: When did you get pain free?
Jones: “Probably last week. I didn’t get no pain from any dunks or anything. It was a long time.”
Question: How do you look to yourself on film the last few games compared to a month ago?
Jones: “Just a lot more aggressive and just deciding what IÃ?Â¿want to do. Making my mind and not thinking and just having fun.”
Question: Has it helped you going through that tough period in the last month?
Jones: “Yeah. Injuries are part of the game. And with that messing up my whole game and how I was thinking, being able to go through it was real good. Now that IÃ?Â¿can just play and be on one of the best teams in the country, it is fun to play and be with them.”