Chris Jones has 'turned the corner' for Cards

ORLANDO, Fla. - University of Louisville junior guard Chris Jones has been a difference-maker for the Cardinals in recent games. He's scored in double figures in four of the past five games and is also doing it on defense for the Cardinals, who play Manhattan on Thursday in the NCAA Tournament.

For most of the season, Chris Jones struggled to fit in the University of Louisville basketball teams backcourt.

The JUCO Player of the Year last season, Jones showed flashes but it wasn't until recently that he showed the consistency that was expected.

The 5-foot-10 Jones has been a key performer on both ends of the floor in recent weeks. He's scored double figures in four of the past five games and said he's "really feeling like I am playing well and helping the team."

"I think I have turned the corner," Jones said. "I have been playing way much harder through the adversity I have had around me. I've been putting all of my madness between the lines."

"Russ and Terry said I am making everybody roll right now," he said. "I think it all starts on the defensive end. My play on defense helped boost my offense back up."

Jones started to 'turn the corner' after his step brother and close friend Demetrius Ray was murdered in Memphis on the same day the Cardinals played Memphis. Jones was 1-for-10 in the game and said he "wanted to do it for him."

U of L coach Rick Pitino said Jones has been "a different player," since the tragedy.

Jones started his run at SMU - the day Ray was buried in Memphis - with 21 points and six steals. He had 10 points in a blowout of Connecticut, while finishing with 18 points, four assists and six steals in last week's 61-point blowout of Rutgers.

He had four points and eight assists in a win over Houston and 11 points in the AAC final, a win over UConn on Saturday.

"He's being very aggressive, looking for his shot and playing confident," Russ Smith said. "And that's been the difference. When you play confident, you play so much better.

"He's really playing well for us."

Added Luke Hancock: "He's just so much more confident and he's just doing what he's supposed to on the floor. His defense has been great. He's been a big lift for this team."

Now, Jones gets to play in his first NCAA Tournament game on Thursday night against Manhattan. Jones said he's ready for it.

"This is a lot of fun and I have been waiting for it all my life," he said. "But I just have to keep doing what I am doing for my team."

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