By LARRY VAUGHT
PADUCAH — Trey Lyles had his 13th straight double-double this season when he scored 29 points and pulled off 15 rebounds in a win over Villa Angela St. Joseph (Ohio) Saturday night here with Kentucky coach John Calipari and two assistants watching the future Wildcat.
However, Lyles also had to learn a “life lesson” when he was held out part of the third quarter by Indianapolis Arsenal Tech coach Jason Delaney — he called it a “coach’s decision” — and then was not allowed to talk to media members after the game.
“You learn something every day,” said Delaney when asked about why Lyles sat out the first part of the third quarter. “It’s a life lesson for him. No, this doesn’t happen often with him. Sometimes you have to make an example out of your best player because the other guys will fall in line, too. Everyone is held to a high standard on our team, and there are times you have to put your focus on the best player. But he is fine. He’s a great kid, coachable. But sometimes we just have to make statements.”
Lyles’ play has made big statements since he signed with UK in November. The 6-9 power forward is already his school’s all-time leading scorer and rebounder and is that rare player with over 1,000 points and 1,000 rebounds. He averages 24 points and 13 rebounds per game this year and also leads the team in assists and blocked shots.
“The second half, he played well. He picked it up towards the end,” Delaney said. “He did what great players do in the fourth quarter (when he scored nine of his team’s final 10 points). When you need a basket or rebound or something to get you going, he did that.
“He is playing like one of the best players in the nation and that’s what we expect every night. He has room for improvement just like any player does and that’s why the second half he improved in some areas. Some of it is leadership and some of it is on the court and we just hope he continues to get better like every other guy. We know how much better he can be. That is what we need for our whole team is for him just to get going earlier and not wait to the end of the game to do it.”
Delaney didn’t think playing in front of Calipari impacted Lyles.
“He’s done that a ton before. Not a big deal,” Delaney said.
He also did it playing against 6-8 Carlton Bragg, a top 10 player in the 2015 recruiting class. Bragg had 24 points, nine rebounds and three assists and was limited to just 24 minutes because of foul problems.
St. Joseph coach Babe Kwasniak thought Lyles was “very good” when it mattered most.
“Carlton tried to step in and take a charge. If we had known (it would be called a block), we would have committed to Kentucky and then de-committed to get that call,” the coach joked. “But Lyles is very good.”