Doron Lamb didn’t start in his official college debut, but made a big
impact in Kentucky’s season opener Friday night at Rupp Arena.
Lamb was one of four players who scored in double figures in the Wildcats’ 88-65 win over East Tennessee State. Lamb started the team’s two exhibition games, but came off the bench and finished with 20 points. Lamb did most of his damage in the opening half and tallied 12 points in 14 minutes, including a pair of 3-pointers and another bucket during a three-minute stretch in the opening half.
“I felt good coming off the bench,” he said. “I brought energy off the bench and did what I had to do on the court (to help the team win).”
Lamb is part of a core of three freshmen expected to contribute this season. In the opener against East Tennessee State, classmate Terrence Jones led the team with 25 points, followed by Brandon Knight with 17. The three players combined and made nine of the team’s 13 shots from long range.
“We felt comfortable and we know each other really well,” Lamb said. “We know where we need to be out on the court.”
Lamb said the team is capable of producing lofty numbers from behind the arc on a consistent basis and has the potential to be one the best three-point shooting teams in the country. He added that making shots and free throws will be a difference-maker this season.
“We just need to keep working on making our three-point shots and making our foul shots,” he said. “Coach keeps telling us if we’re wide open, he tells us to keep shooting it. If we keep doing that, we’ll win a lot of ball games.”
Lamb said the building on the success of last year’s team is within the realm of possibility, even in the absence of Enes Kanter, who was declared ineligible by the NCAA Thursday. In the opener, Kanter sat on the bench and is practicing with the team as the school appeals the decision.
“We've played with each other without Kanter so we know the system very well," he said.
Lamb admitted that he was a “little nervous” but didn’t dwell on the fact that it was his first college outing.
“I just went out there and played my game,” he said.
Following the team’s first exhibition game, Lamb said the team has been focusing on getting better physically.
“We did a lot of rebounding and a lot of diving after loose balls,” he said. “We were diving into chairs (that were already on the court) and we did a lot of aggressive drills. We feel really good about it right now.”
Kentucky coach John Calipari was pleased with Lamb’s final tally. Lamb missed just three shots on 10 attempts, grabbed five defensive rebounds and dished out three assists in 28 minutes off the bench. Lamb’s performance on the offensive end carried over on defense.
“Doron (Lamb) made shots, made plays, (had) three assists (and) one turnover,” the Kentucky coach said. “I thought he defended almost as well as I've seen him defend this year.”
Story by Keith Taylor. Photo by Bill Thiry.
Big Blue Blog: Cal speaks out on Kanter decision.