Still, sophomore Terrence Jones has yet to silence his critics. That's what happens when you turn down a chance to go to the NBA to come back to Kentucky vowing to become the top pick in the 2012 draft. He was also named Southeastern Conference preseason player of the year based on his sensational freshman season at UK.
Overall, he's averaging 11.9 points and 6.3 rebounds per game. He's second on the team in blocked shots with 35 and also has 22 steals.?He leads the team in charges drawn with five. In SEC play, he's averaging 14 points, 5.6 rebounds and 2.0 blocks per game and shooting 58.1 percent (25-for-43) from the field.
Yet Jones knows whenever he has a lackluster first half like he did Saturday against Alabama (three points, three rebounds), his play will be questioned again. However, don't forget he had 12 points and three rebounds in the second half of the 77-71 win and hit a key 3-pointer as well as two clutch free throws.
What did he do differently the second half?
"Just being aggressive and just not listening to anything besides my teammates," said Jones.
But here's what he said that indicated he has continued to mature even during a difficult stretch where his numbers dropped and fans questioned everything from his toughness to his attitude.
"I improved in the second half and helped us get the win I?feel.That's all I was trying to do. I learned from what I was doing in the first half to not do in the second half. That's what I did," he said. "I learned just about my in-paint scoring and when they were doubling (putting two men on him) and I didn't have any turnovers off that in the second half like I did in the first half. Just playing harder. I knew what it was going to take to help us win.
While he'll never be the most physical player ever to play at Kentucky, he did bang with the bigger, stronger Alabama players the second half. Remember, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist admitted that Alabama's interior players "were just stronger than us" and that's not normally the type of game where Jones can excel. But he held his own.