VAUGHT: Bradley coming of age

Ramel Bradley not only is playing better, but he's starting to understand more and more about what coach Tubby Smith wants from him to keep him playing even better than he has.

Ramel Bradley not only is playing better, but he's starting to understand more and more about what coach Tubby Smith wants from him to keep him playing even better than he has.

"When I came to Kentucky, I expected to do a lot of things," Bradley said. "There are still a lot of things I want to live up to.

"I had some trouble adjusting at first to being a point guard. We also had another great player here in (Rajon) Rondo. But I think when I am playing point guard now, I am doing good things. When I am at the 2 (shooting guard), I am doing the job. You just have to learn from your mistakes and improve. I think I am finally doing that."

He had his first career double-double with 18 points and 12 rebounds, including 11 on the defensive boards when he consistently outhustled other players for long rebounds, in Wednesday's win over Auburn. He also had seven assists, two steals and just one turnover in 36 superb minutes.

"Obviously the difference in the game was the guard play of (Joe) Crawford and Bradley," Auburn coach Jeff Lebo said. "Bradley had a great floor game. He's a good shooter. He doesn't turn the ball over. He's smart. He got to the foul line. He's also a good actor, too, which is part of being smart."

Maybe Bradley did fake a foul or two, but he went 9-for-11 at the foul line to offset his 1-for-7 mark from 3-point range.

Kentucky coach Tubby Smith liked Bradley's rebounding more than anything.

"That's the extra effort you have got to have," Smith said. "I liked the way he took care of the ball, too. We are having to use him more at the point now. The way he takes care of the ball, we probably need to put the ball in his hands more." That thought would have made Bradley giddy earlier in his career. Now as long as UK wins, he doesn't worry about his numbers.

"Coach Smith talks to me about not having to make the home run play all the time. Sometimes I can just make the pass that leads to the pass on a home run play," Bradley said. "That's something else I've had to learn.

"Where I come from (Brooklyn), everybody wants to be the guy. But I've learned you don't always have to be a flashy player. Being smart works better. That's why I am continuing to learn every day and becoming a better player as a result of that."


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