By KEITH TAYLOR, Kentucky Today
LEXINGTON — Tyrese Maxey currently is mired in a slump but he’s not concerned about his lack of scoring during the past three games.
“It’s one time for everything and I’m still happy,” Maxey said. “I put in work every single day, so I know I’m never going to stop shooting because I feel like the next one’s going to go in.”
Although Maxey has made just one shot from long range in his past 17 attempts, he’s making strides on defense and it was obvious in Kentucky’s 67-53 win over Georgia Tech last week.
“Scoring is not (a top priority),” he said Tuesday. “We have a lot of guys on our team that are going to be able to score, so I don’t need to score every single night. I just want to help my teammates win, whatever I need to do. Rebounds, assists, play defense. It was my night (Saturday) to stop the best player and that’s what I did.”
Kentucky coach John Calipari is starting to see a change in Maxey and said the freshman guard is starting to mature, especially on the defensive end of the court.
“That’s when you start seeing the change (and) it’s hard because of the clutter,” Calipari said. “The clutter is the only way you get your name in the newspaper when you’re in high school, in grade school, in junior high —score points. So, go out there and score points.
“At this point, none of that matters. Going forward, I’ll be honest with you, you have to be skilled at each level. If you’re not skilled, you can’t make it. But the whole point of it being, do you play basketball? Do you help your team win? Do you play with unbelievable effort?”
Maxey will attempt to get back on track offensively in Kentucky’s two neutral site games in Las Vegas, starting with Wednesday night’s contest against Utah, followed by a showdown against No. 5 Ohio State in the CBS Classic Saturday in Las Vegas.
Both games will be a test for Kentucky, which hasn’t played away from home since a 69-62 win over Michigan State in the State Farm Champions Classic on Nov. 5 at Madison Square Garden. Although the Utes and fifth-ranked Buckeyes are a step up on the talent ladder, Maxey isn’t worried.
“I think we test ourselves every single game,” he said. “We just play against ourselves. Coach always says we’re in the way of ourselves and we play against each other. I feel like we’re just going to go out there, do what we’ve been doing in practice, compete and have a lot of fun.”