By LARRY VAUGHT
The numbers seem nice, but not nearly impactful enough to have Kentucky coach John Calipari beaming about freshman EJ Montgomery the way he was after Tuesday night’s 76-55 win over No. 22 Mississippi State in Rupp Arena.
Montgomery was 2-for-5 from the field — and finally hit a 3-point shot. He also had a blocked shot at a key time, two rebounds and one steal in 13 minutes.
“Obviously he’s a good shooter. Just doesn’t look like it so far. It’s the first one he made all year. It’s good that you made one finally,” Calipari said.
“ I keep telling him, he’s going to break through and everybody is going to say, oh, my gosh, who is this guy. I mean, did you see him block that shot? It changed the game. If we had another big guy in, and he just acted like, well, it’s not my man and didn’t block that shot and that ball goes in, we could have lost the game. That changed the game.
“Those kind of plays, one, they make it so guards won’t drive in there, but two, they changed the game because you get breakouts down the other end. And he and Nick (Richards) are able to do that for us.
“PJ (Washington) had some blocks (four) today. PJ played four blocks, 21 points and six rebounds and I still think he played without that motor parts of the game and that’s what was making me angry. Come on, man. Battle. But that’s how good I think he is. ”
Washington’s play is one reason that Montgomery’s playing time has been limited because he basically backs up the Kentucky sophomore. However, teammates remain confident Montgomery can produce when he gets his chance to play more.
“He works hard every day in practice,” freshman guard Tyler Herro said. “That was an EJ play (on the block), a great play , changed the game and kind of sparked us a bit. EJ would be another great contribution to us. He’s already playing real well so I mean for him to come in and make plays like that is big.”