CRAWFORD | Back in the starting lineup, Jones listens, shoots an - WDRB 41 Louisville News

CRAWFORD | Back in the starting lineup, Jones listens, shoots and passes Cards past Wake

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — Rick Pitino said on Friday that he and point guard Chris Jones had accomplished a meeting of the minds.

Their progress has come in fits and starts. He said he wanted Jones to bail on looking at social media and to get off his smart phone early in December. He did, but hit a couple more rough spots, with poor decision-making against Kentucky leading to him being benched the next game.

On Sunday at Wake Forest, it was anyone's guess what to expect when Jones returned to the starting lineup.

But at halftime, the stat sheet showed Jones with nine assists. Was that right, one U of L fan asked me via Twitter.

Yes, it was. Jones had nine assists in the first half and, with Wake Forest making a run, Montrezl Harrell covered by the Deacons' defense and Terry Rozier in and out with foul trouble, scored 20 points in the second of an 85-76 U of L win.

CRAWFORD | Jones, Rozier, Harrell 'trifecta' leads Cards past Wake Forest 85-76

Such is the changing nature of his role. One half he needs to pass. One he needs to score. Situations can change instantly.

After the game, which Jones finished with 22 points and 10 assist, U of L coach Rick Pitino called Jones “brilliant.”

“All Chris Jones has to do to be one of the better point guards in the country is listen,” Pitino said. “He's gone from never listening in junior college and high school to listening about 70 percent of the time. All he's got to do is get it to 100 and we've got ourselves a special player.”

Jones heard Pitino's comment and smiled.

“I say I listen 80 percent. Tell him he's 10 percent wrong,” Jones said. “No, he's right about that, you know. They really didn't say anything to me in junior college. I just did what I wanted to do. I never had a coach yell at me like he yells at me and put pressure on me like he does.”

Jones was a scorer in junior college. That's all he was asked to do. Nor was he challenged in high school. And as a person, dealing with a high-pressure, high-volume coach like Pitino can be a challenge in itself.

Pitino hasn't had players he loved more as a person than Peyton Siva, but he was on Siva all the time.

“If something's wrong sometimes he doesn't say anything to anybody but me, because I'm the point guard, the coach on the floor,” Jones said. “But I know how to handle him now. He says I listen 70 percent, maybe a national championship will get me to 100.”

Sometimes listening isn't enough. Pitino said he went through a 6-for-36 shooting slump with Jones on video and explained what Jones was doing wrong. But all Jones heard, Pitino said, was “don't shoot.” Pitino certainly doesn't want Jones not to shoot. So they sat down and went through it again.

After the UK loss, Jones said he had to tune out a lot of noise he was getting from not just the UK fan base after a much-publicized flop in that game but from U of L fans unhappy with his play.

“I had a lot of heat coming out of that Kentucky game that I didn't like, but I know what our fans meant, and I took that to heart,” Jones said.

Sunday night's game wasn't a typical point guard game, with a pass-first half followed by a half in which you're called on to lead the team in scoring.

But Jones proved he can fill either role. He applies ball pressure better than any player on U of L's team. And after a two-game slide, he proved once again that he's resilient. And that he can find the same page as his head coach, even if it takes a while to get there.

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