One of the creeping story lines from Indiana's upset win over then-No. 1 Kentucky Saturday was the strange disappearance of Wildcats forward Terrence Jones. Jones didn't just play poorly. He barely played at all. His final tally? Four points on 2-of-3 from the field, six turnovers, one rebound.
Calipari even pulled Jones from the lineup in the final minutes, a bizarre turn of events for Kentucky's most experienced and arguably all-around best player. ESPN analyst Dick Vitale was all over this during the broadcast, wondering if Jones's obviously apathetic performance -- at one point, the cameras caught Jones physically shrugging in a timeout -- was the product of some unseen malaise. Whatever it was, it was strange.
Naturally, the assembled Kentucky writers were quick to ask Kentucky coach John Calipari about Jones's performance after the game. If Calipari is worried about Jones's disappearance in the Wildcats' first true road nonconference game of the season, he wasn't letting on Saturday:
"And we did it without Terrence Jones," he said. "He absolutely gave us a zero today, and that happens at times. But it's good to know that we can win without him." [...] "These guys are not machines, guys," answered Calipari. "They're not computers. They have bad games. You move on. Hopefully he plays better from here on. Maybe five games from now he has another bad game. You try to win without him."
"That just shows it wasn't his day," Calipari said [of Jones's sixth turnover]. "That's when I said, 'That's it. I'm not even going to try you. We gotta try and win this game. I'll deal with you when we get home.'" [...] "I'm not mad at him," Calipari said. "The kid had a bad game. You have bad games."
Those quotes come from the Lexington Herald-Leader's John Clay, who notes that Jones has pulled this disappearing act before -- most notably in his first real road game last season as a freshman, when he went 3-of-17 from the field and was, John writes, "knocked (mocked?) afterward for taking a morning nap before a noon start." In that game, at least, Jones was able to pull down six rebounds, helping his team on the glass if not on the offensive end. And, as his 17 shots show, at the very least Jones was engaged.
On Saturday, the forward seemed far less interested in the game around him. For one of the team's most productive players -- Jones was averaging 15.0 points and 7.5 rebounds per game before Saturday -- to pull a total no-show, well, of course fans are going to be concerned. Kentucky is hoping for production from Jones, sure, but it also needs leadership; he is surely the most important veteran on a team largely comprised of freshmen. On Saturday, he delivered neither.
The good news? Jones's bad games have been rare. In fact, he's never been this bad. So it's fair to assume he will rebound (literally and metaphorically), and very soon, and Kentucky fans will have their concerns assuaged in short order. But you can't blame them for being just a little bit worried. It's one thing to play poorly. Apathy is another matter entirely.