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  • Diallo, Kentucky improving

    By LARRY VAUGHT

    Before Saturday, Hamidou Diallo had made six 3-point shots this year. Against Virginia Tech, he made four of seven 3-point tries.

    "I'm just going keep working on my craft and keep trying to get better, each and every part of my game. Hopefully prove the doubters wrong," Diallo, who has had four straight games with 19 or more points, said.

    Kentucky plays UCLA Saturday in New Orleans before closing out 2017 play with home games against Louisville and Georgia. If UK wins all three, it will go into the New Year with just one loss and perhaps a top five ranking.

    Diallo likes the way the team is improving.

    "I would just say that we knew it would take a little while for us to start jelling and bonding with each other. We have a bunch of players that always were the number one option on their team," Diallo said.

    "So for all of us to be on one team now, we got to buy in and it's going to take time. We're just going to keep getting better at it, keep practicing the way we've been practicing and just keep trying to get better.

    "I just feel like we have a bunch of players that can get going. We have a bunch of players, we have a bunch of options and we're really good defensively. We did good today in our press and we're just going to keep getting better at that. We haven't even really worked on it a lot. We just did really good at it. It's just going to be fun to see how these next couple moments go."

    Coach John Calipari has encouraged him to shoot more -- one reason he had no hesitation to take and make a late 3-pointer in last Saturday's win over Virginia Tech.

    "He was never on me about shooting 3's. It was just the type of 3's I was taking and improving the quality of my shots. That's what I have been working on and I'm just going to keep trying to improve on that and keep practicing the way I have been practicing and just keep being motivated," Diallo said.

    His says his teammates believe in him and that's been a major reason for his four-game scoring streak.

    "I'm just making them believe. Every day I come into practice and I'm just working hard and just trying to make my teammates and coaches believe in me. That's what we have been doing and that's what we're all trying to do," Diallo, the SEC freshman of the week, said.

    What he won't do is worry about the "lack of respect" issue for UK basketball that Calipari raised. Diallo just wants to play basketball.

    "I'm just here to play basketball and focus on what I need to do for this team and what we need to do to win. That's Coach Cal's position and he's going to fight for us and that's why I chose to come here. I'm just here to play basketball and do what he tells me to do," Diallo said.