By LARRY VAUGHT
Maybe too much was expected from Kentucky sophomore forward EJ Montgomery when he was picked as a preseason second team all-Southeastern Conference selection after averaging just 3.8 points, 4.1 rebounds and 15.1 minutes per game last season.
The feeling was that UK didn’t need the 6-9 Montgomery to be a consistent scorer/rebounder last year because the Cats had P.J. Washington and Nate Sestina. With both gone this year, the Cats needed more from Montgomery but are not getting it.
He combined for 41 points and 17 rebounds in wins over UAB and Fairleigh Dickinson. He was a combined 19 for 29 from the field and had more blocked shots — 3 – than turnovers — 1.
But where has he been the last three games, including the losses to Utah and Ohio State in the last two games. He has 12 points on 6-for-14 shooting, 18 rebounds and just one blocked shot in 77 minutes.
He needed 17 minutes to get his first shot against Ohio State and two of his four shots came late in the game. Kentucky just can’t win with that happening.
So what’s going on with Montgomery that he can’t get more shots and get involved in UK’s offense?
“Well one of the things is you can offensive rebound and go get shots, so now you don’t have to worry about someone passing you the ball. Just say I’m going to rebound offensively,” Kentucky coach John Calipari said after the Ohio State loss.
“The second thing is fight in the post where we can throw it to you. Now it becomes so it’s obvious that you got to get it. Last game he begged me (for the ball), like get me it in the block.
“Today we tried to run a couple things to him, couple of things to Nick (Richards), but it didn’t materialize because that guy worked harder than they did. You got to work harder than that guy to get open than he is working to keep you to not catch it. And it’s all what we’re going through. This is normal, it’s just, you know, you would rather learn from close wins.”
Question is, will Montgomery do it? Kentucky certainly needs him to score, rebound, fight or anything else he can do when it hosts No. 3 Louisville Saturday in what might not be a must game but certainly is close since UK has already lost three games.