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  • VAUGHT: Kentucky staff praising Montgomery play

    By LARRY VAUGHT

    The development of forward EJ Montgomery into a consistent, productive performer has been a season-long goal for coach John Calipari much like it was last year with Nick Richards.

    At times last year, Richards got it. But most of the year he seemed a little behind and out of sync. Montgomery has been the same way but with four regular-season games left assistant coach Kenny Payne believes Montgomery is closer to being what UK needs.

    "His energy is way better, his rebounding is better, his fighting to make plays for us to win has been really good," Payne said.

    The the UK assistant coach dropped this on media members -- and those criticizing Montgomery's play.

    "Hes posting up harder than hes ever posted up. The second part of that is our guards havent passed him the ball. Were in staff meetings and film sessions saying, EJ, why dont you just punch the guy thats not passing you the ball? Like, let him know,'" Payne said. "You want this ball. Dont just accept a guy saying, My fault, my bad. They shot the ball and youre wide open with a defender.

    Montgomery is looking for an alternative to punching guys to let them know he was open.

    "But hes telling me that I just need to punch them. Theyre my guys. I try to just tell them and try to have them hit me next time," Montgomery said.

    Tyrese Maxey is one of those UK guards who knows he's missed chances to get the ball to Montgomery.

    If hes open, he needs to get the ball. Sometimes we miss him. We dont see everything. Coach Cal always says, were not robots. So, if I miss him, I always apologize," Maxey said. "If he says he was open, Im like, Im sorry, Im going to look for you next time.

    "But yeah, he should say something. If youre open, anybody, and you work that hard, especially EJ, Nick, Nate (Sestina), Keion (Brooks Jr.), guys like that who fight their behinds off and rebound and defend. If theyre open in the post, you should get it to them.
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