By LARRY VAUGHT
EJ Montgomery doesn’t have to be an All-American — or even a second team all-Southeastern Conference pick like he was in the preseason poll.
The sophomore just has to be the EJ Montgomery that played at Vanderbilt Tuesday night and seems to be getting that figured out.
He took only three shots in the 78-64 win over Vanderbilt but finished with six points because he went 4-for-4 at the foul line, pulled off nine rebounds — including four on the offensive end — and blocked three shots in 29 minutes. He also had just one turnover and several times he went on the floor trying to secure loose balls, something he’s rarely done this year.
“I thought EJ made some strides,” Kentucky coach John Calipari said.
He wasn’t Saturday at Tennessee when he had two points and three rebounds. But the game before against Mississippi State he had 12 points, eight rebounds and three steals. He had nine points and four rebounds a few weeks ago in a win over Vanderbilt in Lexington.
Vanderbilt coach Jerry Stackhouse explained Monday what Montgomery can do and why he’s important for Kentucky.
“Montgomery, I think he’s a great role player for them and can do a lot of different things,” Stackhouse said. “He can switch out on smaller players. He’s a guy that with confidence, he can make plays around the basket, can pop out a little bit too. So I think guys like that are the X-factor.”
X-factor? I don’t know about that but I know the EJ Montgomery who played at Vanderbilt is the EJ Montgomery that could be a huge, huge difference maker for Kentucky in March.