By LARRY VAUGHT
Early foul trouble is now holding Kentucky sophomore forward EJ Montgomery back more than anything.
“I think what happened to the mental part of it when he gets that second foul and having to sit (out of the game), it takes away his aggression and so he goes back to being tentative,” Kentucky assistant coach Kenny Payne said Monday.
“But when he’s starting games off like he’s started the last two, you’re expecting him to have a big night and then all of a sudden you get your second foul. “
Payne said Montgomery knows if his second foul comes in the first half he’s likely spending the rest of the half on the bench. That’s just standard operating procedure for Kentucky coach John Calipari.
“So when he’s starting over in the second half, play aggressive just like you did to start the first half and just play hard. Don’t worry about getting the third or fourth. Just play. We’ll figure it out as it goes,” Payne said.
His recent numbers have not been overpowering but Montgomery feels he has been playing better — and so does Payne.
“I feel like I’m playing harder. When you have guys that’s playing so well like that, you have to just go out there and do little things that’s not so much scoring,” Montgomery said “You have to go get rebounds, play defense and things like that.”
“I’m just getting better every day in practice and just clicking with the guys and things like that and just trying to go out there and show it on the court.”
He knows what he has to do tonight against Texas A&M, which has won three straight games.
“We just need to bring that physicality back, but still try to limit our fouls and just bring that energy and just to go out there and compete,” Montgomery said.
“He’s worked really hard. He’s had some success,” Payne said about Montgomery. “Some of it is not showing in the games as well as it should, but he’s close.”