Saturday provided more evidence that Jamal Murray will probably never play a perfect game for John Calipari.
The freshman guard scored 35 points and made eight of 10 3-pointers in a blowout win over Florida, becoming the first player since Calipari arrived in Lexington to collect two career 30-point games.
Still, Calipari was not ready to give absolute praise.
“I thought Jamal — other than two or three plays that he just can’t help himself — the way he played was really good,” Calipari said afterward.
One play in particular upset the coach.
“Jamal went on a drive right and had a layup, but he had to finger roll it. He had to do the Iceman — whee!” Calipari said while miming the shot. “The problem was it was an airball. Why would you do that?”
One media member asked: Did Calipari even know Murray had 35 points?
“I didn’t know until after,” Calipari said. “I knew he had a lot of points.”
The coach added another dig: “He knew he had a lot. Tried to make that last one.”
Meaningless last-minute shots aside, the Wildcats (17-6) have been trying to simplify the game for Murray, whose shooting could make or break Kentucky’s season in March.
Calipari outlined the plan to reporters.
“Any inside out pass to him, we’re telling him, ‘Shoot it,'” Calipari said. “‘Don’t hesitate. If it’s inside and comes out to you, let it go. If you’re coming off a screen, and you want to drive, drive it coming off a screen.’ We’re trying to tell him, ‘Do not back it out and do the And-1 tape. You just don’t play that way. You don’t get by anybody. It’s an offensive foul. It’s a turnover.'”
After Saturday’s win, Murray leads Kentucky with 18.3 points per game. He’s the only Wildcat to start all 23 of the team’s games this season.