Kentucky notes: What’s wrong with Tyus?


Last May, Florida forward Alex Tyus pulled his name back from the NBA draft because he said he felt like he could be part of a special team in his senior season.

While the Gators are off to a 17-5 start and are in first in the SEC East, it hasn’t been a breakout senior year for Tyus. Entering Saturday’s game against Kentucky, Tyus’ scoring (8.8 ppg) and rebounding (5.0 rpg)  are both down from a season ago.

On Tuesday night, Tyus was just 1 of 6 from the floor against Vanderbilt, missing a wide open, put-back dunk with a minute remaining that could have helped Florida clinch the game in regulation. Tyus had just 2 points, failing to reach double-figures in scoring for the fifth-time in eight SEC games.

Florida coach Billy Donovan said Tyus’ offensive struggles have been the result of facing tough matchups on the defensive end. He’ll have another one against Kentucky, guarding freshman phenom forward Terrence Jones. Jones leads the Wildcats in scoring at 17.9 ppg.

“He’s had a lot of very, very difficult matchups at the power forward spot,” Donovan said. “You can go all the way back to Ole Miss, he had to play Terrance Henry, who is a terrific power forward, then you talk about him playing Tobias Harris, from Tennessee, who is leading scorer. Then you go into the South Carolina game having to deal with (Sam) Muldrow some. And then Georgia he’s dealing with Trey Thompkins.

“‘He’s had some really, really difficult matchups. And I think what happens sometimes is Alex is really trying to focus on defending, because when you are going against those kind of guys we’re trying to provide help for him you probably have a tendency to focus a little less on your offense and you are trying to focus more on trying to do a good job defensively.”

On offense, Tyus’ appears to have lost his touch on mid-range jumpers that made him a consistent, effective offensive option last season. Since scoring 18 points in a huge effort at Tennessee, Tyus is just 17-for-44 from the floor.

Teammates say they haven’t lost confidence in Tyus, who still has time to bounce back from his current shooting slump. Give Tyus credit for keeping perspective. After the Vanderbilt game, Tyus and his wife (former UF volleyball player Alli Cecchini) were at the Ronald McDonald’s House, helping prepare meals for ill children and their families.

“We’re going to continue to try to establish (Tyus) down low,” senior forward Chandler Parsons said. “He’s done a great job for us all year long. He almost came up with that huge tip dunk last Tuesday against Vanderbilt. We’re going to keep trying to establish our big guys, him and Vernon have done a great job getting us off to a good start in games. We’re going to stay confident with him, keep giving him the ball.”

— Donovan said he’s OK with doing live in-game interviews during CBS and ESPN broadcasts. “So much of it is to try to be viewer friendly,” Donovan said. “And a lot of things for us at the college level are a takeoff of the NBA. You know, like the NBA coaches are miked up. There’s more of that in the NBA. And I think there have even been strong pushes to get more into locker rooms before the game, during halftime, after the game, because I think what they are trying to do is being the viewer into a huddle.”

— It appears that Florida is staying at an off-campus hotel again the Friday night before a home game. Both Parsons and Tyus tweeted Friday night they were hanging out at the hotel with the team. In an effort to get his team more focused, Donovan had his team stay at a hotel off-campus the Friday night before its last Saturday night home game against Arkansas on Jan. 22. It was hard to argue with the results. The Gators beat Arkansas 75-42, their largest margin of victory against an SEC opponent since topping South Carolina 84-50 in 2007.

— While much of the attention will be centered around the Kenny Boynton-Brandon Knight matchup, the game also will represent a homecoming for two more Kentucky players with Florida ties. Former Florida forward Eloy Vargas, who transferred in 2009 before the start of his sophomore year, is averaging 2.1 points and 2.3 rebounds as Kentucky’s first big man off the bench. Academic and injury problems contributed to Vargas’ decision to leave UF.

— Kentucky freshman forward Stacey Poole Jr., son of former Gator guard Stacey Poole, has appeared in just 12 games for the Wildcats averaging 0.3 points and 0.7 rebounds. After playing well against Notre Dame, Poole got in Kentucky coach John Calipari’s doghouse by firing three quick shots in his first few minutes on the floor against Indiana.

— Florida is 4-4 in games decided by five points or less and 3-1 in overtime. Kentucky, on the other hand, is 0-3 in games decided by five points or less. But Donovan said he doesn’t think experience plays a role in pulling out tight games, even though the Gators are more experienced than the Wildcats this season. “Last year’s Kentucky team with all the young guys did pull out close games,” Donovan said.  There was a thought that when I had (Joakim) Noah, (Corey) Brewer and (Al) Horford and they were all sophomores, there was no NCAA Tournament experience and we weren’t going in with experience and you had to have an experienced team to go deep in the tournament and they proved that wrong.

“Just because we’ve won close games does not ensure the fact that we’re going win all of them going forward. Anything that’s happened in the past has no bearing on the next time you’re in that situation, other than the fact that there’s a level of familiarity but you still have to make the plays that are necessary.”


  1. Alex Tyus in every way seems to be a good guy with a lion’s heart. His demeanor on the court and competitive drive will get him through this mid-season offensive slump. You often see players elsewhe re hit the bench after adversity, mouthing off at officials on their way from the court and then expressively jabbering to teammates. Not too much with these Gators. We may not have the very best talent overall; however, these guys are giving us lots of excitement and play with Gator passion. I’, a Tyus man all the way.

  2. Talked to a UNF asst, coach back before Christmas, and he told me that tyus was a great kid but just took plays off and that’s what hurts him like tonight in the first half against UK. he turned it on in the second half but Tyus still losesthat focus at times. When he can start consistently putting entire games together, start to finish, he’s going to be a great one.

  3. Todd….He’s not a good shooter numb nutz…he’s playin’ great D like BD said. It’s not like playin Patrick will get them more points he’s not a very good scorer either. Or the white guy, we bring off the bench, Murphy he just jacks threes up. Give it up…Tyus is our 3 man and it’s for D PURPOSES!!!!!

  4. Let me clarify…Tyus is our 3-man on D and our 4-man on O. Ur not gonna see CP coverin the opposing teams best post player. Not gonna see it…sorry, CP is my second fav player but he can’t do everything. On a good-Great Team everyone has a Role and Tyus is D…and he’s a starter on D!!! I am dropin’ Faces left and right!!!!!

  5. Tyus is playing right where is skill and talent level is. He is not a good offensive player, never has been. Even when he averaged 12 ppg as a Sophy. He is a decent rebounder and scores mostly on put backs. He doesnt have very soft hands either. He needs to stop shooting unless he is 5 ft away like Macklin. He is however, a great defender. He can guard anyone and block anything. If he stops being hyper-active on offense and just be smarter offense he can up his scoring 2 to 4 points more a game. There is nothing wrong with being a 10 ppg 7rpg 2-3 bpg guy. In fact, thats all we need from him.

  6. I am a Tyus man as well. He has great value to this team. It is odd, however that his coach constantly states that he checks out of games mentally if he does not score early. That has been Donovan’s excuse for benching him. In the second half of the UK game, Tyus scored 6 points in the first 3:26 sec and he was still benched. He most have exhausted himself shooting so much and needed to rest.

    It has been my observation that it does not matter what Tyus does, he is still benched.