Mar 21, 2012 8:12 PM
(AP) - Kentucky forward Terrence Jones is playing good basketball heading into Wildcats' rematch with Indiana.
The sophomore hit a bit of slump after the subpar performance against the Hoosiers in December.
Jones was heavily criticized for his lackluster play after finishing with four points, one rebound and six turnovers in the Wildcats' 73-72 loss on Dec. 10.
He dislocated his left pinky finger in Kentucky's next game and was limited most of the rest of the month as his freshmen teammates carried Kentucky back to No. 1.
Kentucky coach John Calipari still isn't sure why Jones played so poorly against Indiana (27-8).
"I don't know. I hope he keeps playing like he's been, just keep doing what he's been doing," Calipari said. "Whatever you're eating, whatever you're reading, tell the rest of the guys.
"He's doing good, he's doing good."
Jones is healthy and playing well for the Wildcats (34-2). He's averaging 14.4 points and 10.4 rebounds over his last five games and looks like the playmaker he would be this season when he was tabbed the Southeastern Conference's preseason player of the year.
"I'm just being more aggressive on offense, just trying to attack the rim and just be more physical on offense and defense to get more rebounds," Jones said. "That's what is helping us usually win games is getting more rebounds. So I'm just trying to help get more rebounds."
Jones surprised many when he decided to return for his sophomore season instead of going into the NBA after averaging 15.7 points and 8.8 rebounds as a freshman. Calipari brought in another No. 1 ranked recruiting class that includes starters Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Marquis Teague.
That lessened Jones' needed role as a scorer and the finger injury cost him two games as his numbers have fallen to 12.6 points and 7.2 rebounds per game this year. His play in last year's NCAA tournament lifted Kentucky to the Final Four.
"He rebounded the ball like crazy," Calipari said. "As a matter of fact, in the game we lost against Connecticut, he had 15 rebounds, and he was rebounding every ball. Much better offensive player than he was a year ago, and now he's still rebounding."
Jones appears confident again after being shaken during those December days. He abandoned Twitter for a stretch after his poor performance, letting his critics know he didn't forget anything while Kentucky superfan and actress Ashley Judd messaged him words of encouragement.
He appeared to turn a corner 10 days later when he posted: "It's ok to fail but it's never ok to give up" and started SEC play in January with 20 points against South Carolina on Jan. 7 and acknowledged his confidence had been shot because of the pain in his finger.
"It just happened at the wrong time," he said.
Calipari also says it was unfair for Jones to shoulder all the blame for the loss to Indiana on Christian Watford's 3-point play at the buzzer after Jones sat on the bench the final 2:59.
"They beat us every way, they were more physical, they were; they played with more intensity, they executed better, made shots that they had to make," Calipari said. "We had a couple of guys literally no show the game. Wasn't just one. You guys got one, but if you watch the tape, there was more like two or three."
Jones looks nothing like a no-show as of late, and his teammates already plan to be looking for him.
"Terrence is being more aggressive on rebounds, looking for his shot more," sophomore Doron Lamb said. "We're going to be going to him a lot."