Calipari doubts anyone’s better than Terrence Jones

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Terrence Jones often played his way into John Calipari’s doghouse last season. That’s not happening this year.

Calipari lauded the 6-9 sophomore Tuesday, telling local media that Jones’ work ethic finally matches his immense talent. He’s now the first guy in the gym, he stays late and he spent the summer improving his game.

Jones, according to Calipari, might be the game’s best player.

“If there’s a better player in the country, I gotta see him. Maybe that guy’s in our gym, I don’t know. If there is somebody better than Terrence, I gotta see,” Calipari said. “His focus on basketball compared to what it was last year is not even close.”

Calipari – who noted Jones’ improved ball-handling, shooting and conditioning — expects Jones’ extra work and dedication to result in a Josh Harrellson-esque jump, which would be nothing short of spectacular. Jones was already one of the game’s elite players as a freshman. If he improves as much as Harrellson did, we’ll see a transcendent player.

That’s a scary thought for Kentucky foes.

It may not result in a massive stat bump, though. Kentucky’s got plenty of talent and Calipari says everyone’s upping their game, especially senior Darius Miller and freshman Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, who “try to kill each other” during practice.

The result? “Darius has never been better,” Calipari says.

Hey, Calipari even lauded Eloy Vargas, a 6-11 senior who wasn’t good for much last season other than giving Harrellson the occasional breather.

Much of this no doubt counts as coach-speak and early season lauding designed to boost his guys’ confidence and encourage fans. But if half of what Calipari says is true, then that Dec. 3 game against North Carolina went from must-see TV to essential viewing for any sports fan.

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Rick Pitino: ‘We should be penalized … but not this team’

Rick Pitino
(AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)
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One of the biggest storylines of Saturday’s college basketball schedule had everything to do with a team that no longer matters in the championship picture.

Less than 24 hours after being informed that the school would be imposing a postseason ban that will leave the Cardinals out of the ACC and NCAA tournaments, No. 19 Louisville tipped off against Boston College, and they did so without leading scorer Damion Lee, who is battling a knee issue.

How would the team respond to the decision — the despicable, shameful decision — that the university’s president made?

Well, it seems.

The Cardinals jumped out to a 19-2 lead in the first eight minutes and cruised to a 79-47 win over an overmatched Boston College team in the Yum! Center.

And head coach Rick Pitino, after the quote, said exactly what everyone is thinking.

“We should be penalized, no question about it,” he said. “But not this team. But the NCAA didn’t make that decision. We made that decision.”

He’s totally right. The school sacrificed the season — and the only shot that a pair of fifth-year seniors would get to play in the NCAA tournament — to protect the school, the brand and the bottom-line moving forward. Like I said earlier, it’s despicable.

But credit the Cardinals for responding.

Because they still have something on the line. They’re just a game out of first place in the ACC, and while an ACC regular season title isn’t a shot to play in the ACC or NCAA tournament, it’s still a banner that would probably mean more to Damion Lee and Trey Lewis than any league title has meant to a Louisville player before.

Oklahoma State without Jawun Evans, questionable moving forward

Oklahoma State guard Jawun Evans (1) goes up for a shot between Kansas forward Jamari Traylor (31) and forward Perry Ellis (34) in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Stillwater, Okla., Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2016. Oklahoma State won 86-67. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
(AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
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Oklahoma State’s star point guard was not in the lineup on Saturday against No. 13 Iowa State.

Evans injured his shoulder in the Cowboys’ loss at Texas Tech on Wednesday and was ruled out of Saturday’s game.

According to the school, his official status moving forward is questionable. The Pokes are just 11-11 on the season and likely need to earn the Big 12’s at-large bid to get into the NCAA tournament. It makes sense to let him get healthy.

Evans was averaging 12.9 points, 4.9 assists and 4.4 boards this season, but he had been arguably the best point guard in the Big 12 during league play, averaging 15.6 points and 5.6 assists.