By LARRY VAUGHT
He’s not had the season he hoped or many Kentucky fans expected but maybe it’s good news that sophomore forward EJ Montgomery has not lost his confidence.
“I think I make a big difference,” Montgomery said after he had 10 points, five rebounds and one block in a win over Georgia Tuesday. “I can go out there and guard and just get the buckets that’s needed and just try to help the team win.”
When he plays well, it makes it a lot easier to win especially since junior center Nick Richards has turned into Mr. Consistency with his scoring, rebounding and shot blocking.
“It’s great me and Nick are both playing well,” Montgomery said. “That’s when the team most blossoms. We just have to go out there and try to do that every game.”
Perhaps the most notable play Montgomery made against Georgia was when he blocked Georgia star freshman Anthony Edwards’ at the rim when he was going full speed. Montgomery suffered a cut lip on the play but didn’t let the contact bother him as it has way too often at UK.
“That was my main thing over summer just to try to get stronger and come back and be an impact on the game,” Montgomery said. “Coach wants his big guys to make the shots on one end and just block shots on the other end.”
It’s easier to do that now than when the season opened for Montgomery.
“You know who is now doing extra conditioning? E.J,” coach John Calipari said after the win. “Is it showing? Yes. It’s not going to happen overnight, though. Took Nick three years.”
Associate coach Kenny Payne is the one who pushes Montgomery daily.
“He wants me to just play my hardest the whole game,” Montgomery said.
He says his confidence is “getting better” daily and the more his confidence and conditioning soar, the better UK will be.