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By LARRY VAUGHT
Sophomore Terrence Jones had 27 points, nine rebounds and three blocks at LSU, but Kentucky coach John Calipari said Kidd-Gilchrist probably was still the best player on the floor even though he had just one point. Kidd-Gilchrist did play lockdown defense on LSU point guard Anthony Hickey and grab eight rebounds, get four assists and make two steals.
Kidd-Gilchrist also creates havoc for opponents and opportunities for Kentucky while displaying little emotion and without agitating opponents.
â€œI think itâ€™s all he knows. Heâ€™s just doing what he does naturally,â€ Calipari said. â€œHeâ€™s just playing. I was a little worried when he ran down to protect Anthony (Davis after he was knocked down on a flagrant foul at LSU) because I didnâ€™t want to see anything,â€ Calipari said. â€œAgain, Iâ€™m preaching that weâ€™re not fouling. Weâ€™re playing not to foul. We want six fouls at half. We donâ€™t want it to be a roughhouse, win in the weight room kind of game.Â Thatâ€™s not how we play.
â€œIf Iâ€™m preaching that, then you have to stay in control. When that other stuff happens and they make the call, thereâ€™s no reason for anything else to happen. They made the call. Back up and go. The reality is thatâ€™s just what he knows. He doesnâ€™t know anything different.â€
Jones says itâ€™s hard to estimate just how valuable Kidd-Gilchrist is as shown by his ability to impact the LSU game despite scoring only one point.
â€œThat is what you need on your team to win is guys that can still have an impact even when they donâ€™t have scoring games. His game could be like that all the time with guys being hot. But as long as weâ€™re making progress for us to win, itâ€™s still good with him,â€ Jones said. â€œHeâ€™s real long. He is active at his position. Iâ€ˆdonâ€™t think guys at his position are usually as active as him. It is just something he always has an advantage over.â€
Calipari brought Kidd-Gilchrist off the bench to start the season, a move that did not bother the freshmen.â€ˆHowever, Calipari soon preferred having him on the court to start games rather than coming off the bench to provide a spark.
â€œWe canâ€™t just start the game and let them do what they want. I can put him on anybody I want to put him on. I can put him on a one, a two, a three or a four if that guy is hurting us, and thatâ€™s why he is so vital,â€ Calipari said of Kidd-Gilchrist. â€œYou canâ€™t say, â€˜I am going to have my best player come off the bench.â€™ The guy that is doing the things that he is doing, he has to be on that court.
â€œNow, what makes me mad about him is that he fouls, like 30 feet from the basket, and he gets a body foul. Then he gets two fouls, and I am trying to tell him he doesnâ€™t need to block any shots, just body guys up and let them block it. He is doing fine, and the other guys are doing fine.â€