Terrence Jones' subpar performance and Kentucky's inability to use its fouls to prevent a game-winning three-pointer were the dominant storylines coming out UK's loss at Indiana. But CBS Sports college basketball writer Jeff Goodman says the key storyline long term could be the way freshman point guard Marquis Teague played in the second half.
"I'd be very excited about Marquis Teague's second half at Indiana. That showed a lot to me," Goodman said this week on "The Leach Report" radio show. "They need Teague, more than any other player, to come around, and for him to go into that enviroment and come up with the second half shows his mental toughness more than anything else.
"Let's face it. Brandon Knight didn't set the world on fire early. Tyreke Evans (at Memphis), he struggled and Derrick Rose even struggled," he continued. "Look at freshman point guards around the country. All these guys struggle. We can't make too much out of it."
Goodman also had good things to say about a couple of other Wildcat freshmen, starting with Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.
"I was blown away by his skill level and how much better it's gotten. He is a wonderful kid. As good a kid as I have ever in doing this job and you root for him," Goodman said, adding that he had been thinking MKG's future at the NBA level might only be as a role player. Now, he's thinking the ceiling could be higher and he knows teams will love Kidd-Gilchrist's work ethic.
"The way he's played and shot the ball--it's not pretty but it's going in right now. If there's one kid I take off that team to win a game, I might take Michael Kidd-Gilchrist over any kid in the country. He plays so hard and it's infectious. He doesn't care about anything but winning," said Goodman.
"(And) Anthony Davis is a lot tougher than anybody gave him credit for, coming out of high school. He doesn't have the body to be a monster yet but what he does is he tries. Another high character kid," noted Goodman. "I think guys like Davis and Gilchrist don't really care about their numbers. It certainly doesn't look like they're playing for the NBA."
Darius Miller hit more than 40 percent of his three-point shots last season but he struggled to rediscover that stroke in the first month of his senior season. But Miller is not worried about it.
"I think I'm kinda rushing it a little bit instead of taking my time. It's going to turn around. I'm not really worried about it," Miller said.
Coach Calipari likes to give his players a few days off at Christmas to be with their families, but Kentucky did once play a game on Christmas eve.
It was 1983, when Kentucky traveled to meet a then unbeaten Illinois team on its home floor. The weather was brutal, with sub-zero conditions outside, and the officiating crew scheduled to work the game could not make it to Champaign, IL. Three local coaches and administrators from the crowd were summoned to work the game, which ended with James Blackmon draining a jumper to give the Cats a win at the buzzer.
UK and the Illini would meet again later that season at Rupp Arena, in a regional final that Kentucky by two to punch its ticket to the Final Four.