By LARRY VAUGHT
Kentucky coach John Calipari didn’t have to watch a lot of tape on Kansas to know that his team will have a “really hard game” Tuesday night in Chicago in the Champions Classic.
‘I’m more concerned about how we’re playing than how Kansas plays. Kansas is flying. They’re shooting 25 to 30 3s. They’re going to shoot them whether we’re zone, man, triangle-and-two, box-and-one. They’re taking 25 to 30 3s,” Calipari said Monday morning before his team left for Chicago.
“They’ll still run some of their weave into pick-and-roll. They do a lot of pick-and-roll to try throw skip passes to shoot. I mean, they’re who they always are. They play tough.
“They’re a good defensive team. I know what they’ll do against us. They’ll come out and at some point play a 2-3 zone. At some point they may try and throw a triangle-and-two. But, I’m more concerned on things that we have to improve on.”
Freshman forward P.J. Washington thinks Sunday’s 73-69 win over Vermont, a NCAA Tournament team last year, will help Kentucky against Kansas.
“It helps a lot because Vermont was a really good team, and I felt like they made us play defense. It showed us where we were and how many things we need to get better on like being more engaged on defense and fighting more the whole game,” Washington said. “I feel like we have a little bit of an idea where we are now and what we need to work on. We’re going to get some film in, then a couple practices and be ready for Tuesday.”
Sophomore Sacha Killeya-Jones had his best overall game at UK against Vermont and thought the Cats needed a test like that before Kansas.
It’s good that it was a close game because we got to learn how to play down the stretch, finish the game out and play together. It was a good game,” he said.
Kentucky’s perimeter defense has not been stellar and will really be tested by Kansas guard Devonte’ Graham.
“What he’ll do is shoot a 3 at any point, which means then you start playing him and he can get by you. It’s going to be a hard game for us. It’s not just him. I mean, they all can shoot. (Lagerald) Vick can get it to the basket. The big kid (Udoka Azubuike) is good. We recruited the big kid. They beat us on him. Next to the basket, it’s a tough deal,” Calipari said.
“They rebound, but Graham is the one that stirs their coffee. He’s the guy. He’s the one that creates all that’s being created out there. It’s through him.”