I wrote an article yesterday saying the issue with Kentucky’s losses was shooting. When I look at the stats from the four losses the shooting difference from the season averages stood out to me. I now realize that I am partially wrong.
Watching the South Carolina game I noticed something I had not seen in a while. The help D was back and everyone seemed to be smothering their man. It was good enough to hold the Gamecocks to 33% from the field and 16% from behind the arc. South Carolina’s top two scorers, Bruce Ellington and Ramon Galloway, only combined for 14 points from 5-20 shooting. Also Kentucky caused 11 turnovers behind 5 steals and six blocks. Overall, statistically the cats played a solid game defensively.
DeAndre Liggins is not in any way an offensive guy, but he averages the second most minutes a game at 32.7. Wonder how he does it? He is the best defender on the floor. Liggins is Calipari’s go to guy to take on any team’s leading scorer. He doesn’t ever lose his man much less ever leaves his side. But there is a bit of a downside with that. DeAndre is the player in the six man rotation that has a shooting percentage under 40%. So with Liggins you have to take the good with the bad, like in the South Carolina game he shot 0-7 from the field. But still he is a role player and one of the best defenders in the country.
So back to the article about the losses. I just did not think about the fact that maybe Kentucky just played awful defense in those four games, and for the most part thats right. So the key to winning conference games on the road for this Kentucky team is to apply defensive pressure, and that will control the crowd if you can keep the other team from big time plays. The defensive stops also let you run the fast paced offense that these Cats excel at.
Also I mentioned they need to find another consistent way to score when the shots aren’t falling. But when you keep the other team from shooting well by playing great defense, you get the opportunity to get your shots to fall and if I was a betting man, I would take this team to outshoot about anyone. As long as they play this kind of defense.