By LARRY VAUGHT
Okay I was not expecting freshman Tyrese Maxey to have the type game he had against Texas Tech Saturday. I thought for Kentucky to win, he would need to be at this best.
Kentucky did win but it was not Maxey’s best game.
He had seven points but was just 2-for-10 from the field. He had four rebounds, three assists and one steal but also had five turnovers in a game where every possession really mattered. Kentucky coach John Calipari was especially infuriated in the second half with UK nursing a lead when Maxey put up a deep 3-pointer early in the shot clock.
Even though freshman Kahlil Whitney quit the team a day earlier to leave the Cats with just eight healthy scholarship players, Calipari didn’t mince words about Maxey’s play after the game.
“Decision making has got to get better,” Calipari said on his postgame radio show. “Tyrese really, really struggled today. I made us go back at him. I told him, ‘I will lose this game but you are going to find out where you are. ‘
“He didn’t get that rebound late. I told him there was a lot of stuff he didn’t do but that’s good for him.”
Good for him? Please explain why.
“Now you know where you are. You are not there yet,” Calipari said. “You are not ready for the big show. But you know what, he’s going to learn from that.”
Maxey is averaging 13 points, 4.2 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game. He’s hitting 42 percent from the field but only 29 percent from 3-point range. However, at the foul line he is an 82 percent shooter — one reason he can help close games.
And unlike Whitney, he’s not going to shut down and look for an easier way out when things don’t go well. He’ll take Calipari’s criticism and respond by working to correct his mistakes starting with Wednesday night’s game against Vanderbilt.
Maxey has been very, very good at times. The games he has not been, he’s responded by looking for ways to improve and trusting that Calipari knows what is best for him.