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White on UK’s defense: “It was pretty suffocating”

Nick Richards blocked two shots and had nine rebounds for UK Saturday. (Vicky Graff Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

John Calipari thought Kentucky did a superb job defensively against Florida Saturday even though the Gators won 66-64.

The Gators shot only 33 percent from the field and 20 percent (6-for-30) from 3-point range.

So what made the Kentucky defense better than what it had been in other games?

“I don’t know if I can put my thumb on it. I’m just not as familiar with Coach Cal’s team as obviously he and his staff are,” Florida coach Mike White said. “And you don’t know this is the first time. After they play at our place later on, I’ll be able to compare those two performances.”

However, White did offer a lot of insights on UK’s defense.

“This team is so different than last year’s team. Last year’s Kentucky team obviously and it is my first time seeing them live. I thought they played hard and defended. Obviously they are a very good team. I’ve thought that all year, even when I watched them on film and watched them on TV,” White said.

“We are all trying to watch each other as much as possible, SEC basketball. Live, I was really impressed with the length in person, the closing speed on shooters, the attention to detail. I thought Nick Richards did a good job on ball screen defense. Kevin Knox and Gabriel with their length getting the shooter. Diallo’s speed getting the shooters.

“It was pretty suffocating. They cover ground with that length and that speed. There wasn’t much space on the floor for us to get to the rim or to get an open three off. And then when we put our head down and got to the rim, everything was contested at the rim.”

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  1. Is this another NIT team? Still don’t know how to close out opponents. Some extra foul shooting practice may be a good place to start.

  2. The team is Calipari’s weakest at UK. It will not finish the season very well given the schedule they face over the next 12 games. Right now, it looks like 21-10, 10-8. NIT is now in play for this team, but I still believe it will get a high NCAA seed when the dust settles because I don’t see a first game exit from the SEC Tournament. But it is questionable whether this team can advance to the SEC Tournament’s semi-finals. Therefore, 22-12 on Selection Sunday. That is bubble range.

    One last point. For the first time all season the actual performance level has dipped below that projected trajectory I provided back in November. Unless they correct that new trend very quickly, the NIT becomes more and more likely.

  3. This team just does not get it. They have no idea what hard work and effort are, and they have no idea how to value the the basketball. 16 turnovers at home or on the road will get you beat by any decent team. Diallo and Gabriel have no business shooting 3s when trying to catch up in the last 2 minutes of the game, besides that, the ball should have been going inside. The only way either of them should see the ball with the game on the line is if they get a rebound. Knox is still Knox. Just stand there and wait for someone to through you the ball. He thinks he is still in shoot arounds when the game is over. 3 Turnovers, NO free throws (hard to get fouled 25 feet from the basket), only 4 rebounds. Just can’t find a GOOD decision maker on this team. Well, at least Cal will have several “upper classmen” on next year’s team.

  4. NBA calling?
    Not likely.

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