By LARRY VAUGHT
Kentucky is giving up just 62.5 points per game and allowing opponents to shoot just 38.6 percent overall from the field and 29 percent from 3-point range. The Cats are also putting opponents at the foul line an average of only 15 times per game through 15 games going into Wednesday night’s game at South Carolina.
Alabama coach Nate Oats doesn’t think Kentucky’s defense will falter the second half of the season, either.
” I mean, they’re one of the better teams in the country. They’re hard to score on, did a better job defensively on us than anyone all year,” Oats said after UK beat his team 76-67 Saturday. “They made it tough for us to score in the paint. Nick Richards, he had five blocks.
“You try to tell your guys what it’s going to be like trying to score at the rim on these guys. We should have taken a few more spaced-out 3’s to get in the game. I don’t know how you emulate it. Add (EJ) Montgomery and (Keion Brooks Jr.) and that’s NBA-level protection. Defensively, they did a great job.”
Alabama, a prolific 3-point shooting team, went 4-for-21 from long range against Kentucky. Oats credited that more to UK’s defense than his team’s shooting.
“They have length, they contest the 3’s and they make you miss. We’ve been shooting at a pretty high clip. We needed to shoot it a lot better than 4 of 21 from 3 if we want to have a chance in this game,” Oats said.
“I’ve played against them as a coach. They always play hard. Defense is always elite. They have length all over the floor and athleticism. They try to take you out from what you do.”