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November 19, 2011UNCASVILLE, Conn. - For a year, Doron Lamb listened to laments about his motor.
His motor didn't run fast enough. He didn't play basketball with enough of a motor.
Kentucky coach John Calipari spent most of the sharpshooter's freshman year griping about the Lamb's geared-down approach to the game.
Frankly, Lamb got tired of all that talk about how he played tired.
"This year I just wanted to have people stop saying that about me, really," Lamb said Saturday. "I worked on it and worked on it. I'm always on the treadmill all the time."
And now he's running the floor and helping No. 2 Kentucky run up the score. Lamb scored 26 points Saturday as the Wildcats (3-0) blasted Penn State 85-47 in the Hall of Fame Tip-Off Classic at the Mohegan Sun Arena.
"He's not our fastest (player)," Calipari said. "He doesn't jump the highest, he's not the longest, he's not the tallest. He just has a feel for the game."
This season, there's also a new feel to Lamb's game.
It starts with Lamb's strength and conditioning.
He bulked up 15 pounds to 210 in the offseason, and he's carrying some extra pluck with the added pounds.
"I've got a lot of confidence in my body, really," Lamb said. "I feel like when I go to the rack, I can finish with contact, finish with the bump (off) the dribble. Bringing the ball up with a lot of pressure, I can still handle it. I think working hard in the weight room in the summer paid off."
He displayed the fruits of that labor against the Nittany Lions (3-1).
Lamb made 3-of-6 three-pointers, but he also scored on drives into the lane and from the free-throw line, where he was 7-for-7.
That helped key a Kentucky rout. The Wildcats led 47-15 at halftime and coasted from there to an easy win. Kyle Wiltjer added 19 points off the bench for Kentucky. Terrence Jones had 15 points and nine rebounds.
For much of the game's first 30 minutes, Lamb alone outscored the Lions.
Last season, teams geared toward slowing Jones and Brandon Knight often left Lamb open for three-point shots. This season, defenders are closing out on Lamb, and he's using a new set of skills to blow by for baskets.
On one possession against Penn State, Lamb drew a hard-charging defender to the three-point line, then drove to the rim and drew a foul from a helpless help-side defender who had to hack to avoid allowing a layup.
"In the beginning of the game, I made a couple shots, and Coach just told me, 'They're going to come at you a little harder, so make the move off the dribble,'" Lamb said. "And I did that today."
It's by design.
Lamb said he's logging extra time at the Joe Craft Center with UK assistant coach Kenny Payne in an effort to improve his conditioning and diversify his offensive game.
Payne puts Lamb through paces dribbling through cones. He pushes Lamb's shoulders while Lamb hones his crossover dribble, preparing the 6-foot-4 sophomore for physical defenders. Lamb works up a sweat on the treadmill, then works on launching shots while he's fatigued, the better to simulate game situations.
"Every time I work out with him, I play good in the game," Lamb said. "So I'm going to keep doing it the rest of the season."