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November 11, 2011Terrence Jones made a mistake. He'll own up to that.
But the Kentucky basketball star insisted Friday after his team's season-opening 108-58 win against Marist that his error early Friday morning was simply in being out too late.
Jones was a passenger in a car that was involved in an automobile accident at about 2:30 a.m. Friday, but he insisted that, contrary to a TV news report, he had not been drinking prior to leaving the scene of that accident.
"Honestly, I take full responsibility for being out late," Jones said after Friday's game. "I really let down my team by making us have curfew. When it comes to me drinking and all that other stuff, none of that's true. If they've got cameras or pictures, or whoever says they saw it, I want to see it."
Jones scored eight points and had nine rebounds in 25 minutes off the bench against Marist.
"I knew I was just going to try to fight through the pain and just try to give it my all," Jones said. "With everything that happened, I knew a lot of attention was going to be on me, and I didn't really want to make it seem like I was trying to score a lot of points or anything but just play hard and try to help our team play like we should."
Jones and Stacey Poole Jr. were passengers in an SUV driven by a high school friend of Jones' who is a student at UK. Another car struck their vehicle at about 2:30 a.m. in Lexington. The driver of the other vehicle was arrested and charged with DUI.
Jones was in the front passenger seat, which took the brunt of the impact, he said. He was confused and in pain, and Jones said he left the scene - which is legal for a passenger - in an effort to keep UK coach John Calipari from finding out he was out so late the night before a game.
Jones had gone out to see a friend perform a song, he said.
In a statement on his website, Calipari said Jones left "in fear of an altercation with the driver of the oncoming vehicle," but Jones said that wasn't true.
"I didn't even see the other driver," Jones said. "I was too much in pain. I was scared that Coach Cal would find out and we'd have curfew."
WLEX-18 in Lexington reported, citing sources, that Jones was "slightly under the influence with alcohol" when he was found at a location along Alexandria Drive, but Jones denied that, saying he called UK assistant coach Kenny Payne and director of basketball operations Chris Woolard immediately after the accident.
"I knew none of my coaches would think (reports of drinking were) true, because I was talking to them right after the accident and the whole time talking to people," Jones said. "I just was more worried about me being the leader, letting my team down when it comes to me being the reason we're having curfew. Me being one of the older guys, (I) shouldn't be making mistakes like that."
Calipari said he was "surprised (Jones) played as well as he did, because it's hard."
"I mean, you're walking in here and thinking everybody is looking at you and talking about you," Calipari said. "I mean, it's a natural thing. The kid is 20 years old. But he'll be fine. He made a mistake. I don't throw kids under the bus. I don't. This one became public, so I responded in a public way on the website. That's all."
Calipari said the media and public "won't know" what Jones' punishment will be, though he did institute a team-wide curfew, which Jones said is 11 p.m. on weekdays and midnight on weekends.
Jones was disappointed in himself for being the reason for that curfew. His teammates told him not to worry.
"We told him just go out there and play like it's another game," said freshman forward Anthony Davis, who led UK with 23 points, 10 rebounds and five blocks Friday. "What happened happened. It's in the past."
Jones started the first half on the bench Friday night. He and Calipari didn't discuss whether Jones will start Tuesday against Kansas at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
"I really didn't ask or question anything like that," Jones said. "I didn't feel I deserved to start with it being my fault and me making our whole team look bad."