LEXINGTON — With Kentucky clinging to a narrow lead Tuesday, senior Julius Mays hit perhaps his two biggest 3-point shots of the season in the final 5 minutes, 4 seconds.
Mays’ first trey put UK¿ahead 61-56 and his second one less than a minute later made it 64-58 and helped UK go on to beat Tennessee 75-65.
John Calipari. “Literally the guy has a foot in the lane running at it, but he's in the lane. You caught it, you have to get it off and shoot it. Or, if he thrives in a dead run that way at you; not running at you, he just jumps that way at you, then you should one-dribble pull-up.
“But see, you have to understand now, his assist-to-turnover ratio may be one of the best in the NCAA.”
Mays took only three 3-point tries and for only the second time this season made more 3-point shots than he missed in a game. After suffering through a horrendous slump, he’s now 4-for-9 from 3-point range the last two games.
He had one assist and one turnover against the Vols. For the season, he has 51 assists and 17 turnovers,a 3-to-1 assist/turnover ratio that is the best on the game.
“My thing to him is when you drive, drive to pass. Don't drive to score, you're not big enough,” Calipari said. “You're not athletic enough. Shoot the 3, one dribble pull-up, or drive to pass. Remember against Texas A&M, he drove and he shot it, with Archie (Goodwin) in the wide-open corner. Those are all the things that I keep saying, you have to buy into how we are telling you to play. This is how we are telling you to play and you're not doing it, so you're not bought in.
“The trust I'm telling you about with these guys, unless everybody's doing what they are supposed to, you don't trust each other. This guy, we all know what he's supposed to do, but he's not doing it. Well, how can I trust him? Now I worry about myself. Now he can't trust me, and then you look like a team that doesn't trust each other.”
Guard supporter: Recently, Calipari once again took time to talk to Kentucky National Guard troops overseas via a Skype call from the UK basketball office.
"Coach Cal and Major General Tonini have done this in the past and worked together to continue the tradition," said the National Guard's Freddie Maggard, a former UK quarterback.
Maggard says it "means the world" to the troops for Calipari to take time for them.
"As a Commonwealth, we have Kentucky National Guard soldiers and airmen stationed across the world. Being able to communicate with coach Cal brings a sense of home to them a care package doesn't reach," Maggard said. "I can't thank coach Cal and his staff enough for these video conversations. I understand how busy he is as well as the team. To take a few minutes out of their schedule to speak to our soldiers speaks volumes to the man coach Cal is.
And what did Maggard think of Calipari after spending a morning with him?
"Intensely focused, detailed oriented man. I've heard the saying that UK is a player's first program several times. After getting a small glimpse into the program, I can honestly say that it is a true statement.
“I've been around many coaches in my life, I can't say I've met one that cares as deeply about his players as coach Cal does," Maggard said.