By LARRY VAUGHT
Jamal Murray continued a streak of making at least one 3-point shot in every game this year during UK’s win over Tennessee Thursday. He had 28 points and was 3-for-6 from 3-point range. But coach John Calipari was happiest about the way he went inside and finished 8-for-12 from the field and 9-for-10 at the foul line.
“It’s exactly what we want. How we want him to play. He took one bail out 3 and he knew it. I said why’d you do it? What we were doing is we were drag screening, which meant the whole lane was open. So whoever had the ball, all you had to do was beat somebody out of bounds,” Calipari said.
“Other than that one, I thought he played an outstanding game. He’s trying to defend better. Couple breakdowns defensively, and it’s mostly that we’re not talking and communicating.
“But, you know, again, he goes 3 for 6 from the three. That’s perfect. Then get your other baskets going to the rim, and ones, make free throws, nine out of 10, nine rebounds. It’s a good game. Two assists, a steal, a block. I mean, he did a little bit of everything today.’
Calipari said instead of making hard plays, Murray is looking for better plays.
“You try to explain to him really, really good players make hard plays look easy. Bad players make easy plays look really hard. And he started the season, that’s what he was doing. So you saw turnovers like why is he doing tough shots?” Calipari said. “Now if he has a shot, he’s taking it. He’s getting the ball by the man, so he’s creating fouls. You know, he’s creating for his teammates.
“He’s becoming — he’s a big guard and a well-rounded guard who can play and pick-and-roll, and he can handle, he can score it. He’s a big lead guard is what he is.”
Murray says he is playing more relaxed and efficient and that has led to him making more shots.
“Just trying to get everybody involved. Rebound, defend, just trying to help this team out in any way I can,” Murray, who had nine rebounds and two assists along with a blocked shot, said.
“Just have to play more aggressive and just have to be strong and take it to the rack, and I’m sure I can do that. Just getting better at it and getting in the gym and working at it.”