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Marquis Teague’s play putting a smile on John Calipari’s face


Mike Miller

If Marquis Teague is the weak link* in Kentucky’s national title aspirations, BBN must be feeling pretty good about cutting down the nets.

Watching the freshman point guard log 37 minutes during Saturday’s win at Vanderbilt and dish eight assists and commit just one turnover indicates the kid can thrive in tough spots. Yes, he had five turnovers just days before in a blowout vs. Florida, but his assist-to-turnover ratio’s gone from 2-1 to 3-1 in the last eight games.

That’s what coach John Calipari’s been waiting to see all year from his 5-star recruit.

“Now all of the sudden he’s running the team, he’s defending, making layups, making good decisions, getting us into offense,” Calipari said (via the Louisville Courier-Journal). “I’ve been really pleased, but it took awhile for him to get the way he is right now.”

During Kentucky’s first 18 games, Teague was almost as likely to commit a turnover (57) as he was to log an assist (76). Calipari says the problem was that Teague didn’t adjust his approach from high school when he was a score-first guard. (He’s also doing well on defense in routinely tough assignments.)

Now he’s a guy who’s forcing his shot (slightly) less – Vandy was the rare example when he topped 10 shot attempts – and ensuring the offense stays sharp no matter what. Calipari says Teague’s a “bulldog.” Sounds like a good guy to have in March.

“I thought he was outstanding,” Calipari told the Lexington Herald-Leader. “Outstanding. He’s getting better.”

* Teague’s better than most point guards out there. By weak link, it’s clearly a comparison to Kentucky’s previous point guards under John Calipari – John Wall, Brandon Knight – and in contrast to the Wildcats’ other strengths, such as shot-blocking, 3-point shooting and offensive rebounding.

You also can follow me on Twitter @MikeMillerNBC.