ATLANTA — In Kentucky’s last 18 games, Terrence Jones has been in double figures 18 times and had six or more rebounds six times. He’s had five double-doubles, including three in the last five games.
Yet the Kentucky sophomore knows one game — UK’s 73-82 loss at Indiana — defines his season more than anything else and he has a chance for redemption tonight when UK plays Indiana again in the NCAA Tournament South Regional semifinal.
Davis had just four points and one rebound in that loss along with six turnovers. He was so shaky that Kentucky coach John Calipari kept the preseason Southeastern Conference player of the year on the bench for the game’s final minutes.
“I just didn't play well. They came out doubling me. I just wasn't making good decisions from there,” Jones said Thursday.
He says he has taken a slightly different approach in recent games and especially since postseason play started.
“Just really having a more aggressive mindset, mentality to each game and just try to have more fun and not think too much really. It's just been fun playing together,” Jones said. “I think that's what's making it much easier on each individual player. There’s not been a lot of pressure on just one player because different guys are stepping up different games. When they try to have a game plan to stop two guys, the other three guys just step up.”
Jones’ teammates expect him to be his “dominating self” against the Hoosiers.
“Last time Terrence just had a bad game, which every player does,” senior Darius Miller said. “Nothing was going for him. Now he is pretty much dominating every game. The past couple of games he has done a great job of leading us. He is very aggressive, getting nice shots along with key rebounds and stops. He’s done a nice job taking up his game since tournament started, and that’s what makes us a much, much better team.”
Jones admitted coach John Calipari has done a good job again setting the stage for tonight’s game without pressuring the players.
“Our coach pretty much does a good job of explaining how it's going to be, just each practice telling us before whoever we're playing they're going to try to come out and play their best because not only are they playing against the name on the front (of the jersey), but they're playing against the name on the back,” Jones said. “We've got targets on our backs because of what school we go to and how good individually we are. So every team comes and just pretty much gives us their best shot.”
Jones said it is important for younger teammates not to feel any added pressure in tonight’s game.
“We try not to add pressure. We try to take it away just by making it just one game at a time and knowing how good the other team is, just try to worry about that team and just try to do it as a team and together,” Jones said.
So the game is not extra special to him?
“Yes, it is. But that’s because it’s a game we have to win to get closer to our goal of winning a championship. That’s why the game is important,” Jones said.