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Calipari tried to put Keldon Johnson in position to bust zone

Keldon Johnson. (Photo by Chet White | UK Athletics)

By LARRY VAUGHT

After Tuesday’s win over Arkansas, I wondered how coach John Calipari felt about freshman Keldon Johnson taking 14 shots — and making only five. Johnson finished with 13 points, six rebounds and three assists.

“Well there was a couple where he is should have made passes and we told him,” said Calipari. “They collapsed on defense. But what we were trying to get him to do in the zone is catch the ball near the middle or catch it anywhere from 15 feet and just drive it to the middle of the zone.

“Because either someone’s going to get open or that floater that he can make, he shoots, and then we have two guys near the rim that can rebound a miss. So that’s what we started doing in the second half. So we were putting him in positions to do it.

“There were probably, I’m going to guess two of those he should have passed. But the rest of them were pretty good shots.
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Johnson said he stayed in “attack mode” the second half more than he was in the first half. Arkansas eventually built a 45-30 lead with 18 minutes left before UK won 70-66. Johnson said he looked for teammates but often had to take shots and knows that could be good preparation for postseason play.

“We know what’s coming up. We have a big game coming up (Saturday at Tennessee), but every game is a big game,” Johnson said. “We’re going to prepare and get locked in.

“We know that we have to get after each other on Thursday, have a really good practice on Thursday and Friday and leave for the game on Saturday.”

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