Defense Score Sheet: Kentucky vs Maryland

Jason Szenes

The Cats and Terps hooked up a game that started as a blowout and ended as a close, hard-fought contest. Here are the individual defensive numbers behind the Cats' overall effort.

Overall Numbers

Kentucky Defense Game 1st Half 2nd Half
Possessions 68.0 36.0 32.0
Points 69.0 36.0 33.0
Def. Efficiency 101.5 100.0 103.1
eFG% 35.3 29.5 43.5
Defensive RB% 47.2 40.6 57.1
Turnover % 15.9 13.9 18.8
FT Rate 28.0 29.5 25.8

*Update: Somehow got Maryland's points wrong. Not sure how that happened.

Given how the game progressed you might think that Kentucky's defense let them down in the 2nd half. In fact, in overall terms the 2nd half defense was exactly as effective as the 1st half defense was - the Cats held the Terps to a point per possession in each half.

Really, the only bad number here is the work on the defensive glass which should not come as a shock to anyone who watched this game. Maryland gets a ton of credit for being so good on the boards - it was pretty much the only thing they had going for them offensively because Kentucky shut them down everywhere else. The turnover number is not good in a general sense, but Cal's teams do not force turnovers by design and this number is right in line with what his last several teams have done in this area.

Individual 4 Factors


Kentucky Four Factors
Name Opp eFG% Opp TO% FTRate DRb%
Alex Poythress 30.8 0.0 92.3 9.8
Kyle Wiltjer 41.7 11.9 33.3 15.7
Nerlens Noel 39.1 19.7 34.8 20.3
Archie Goodwin 50.0 16.5 40.0 4.1
Ryan Harrow 0.0 0.0 250.0 0.0
Jarrod Polson 25.0 41.0 0.0 0.0
Willie Cauley-Stein 35.0 0.0 10.0 10.8
Julius Mays 33.3 71.6 0.0 2.5
Undefended 35.3 0.0 0.0 5.7

  • As should be expected, most everyone has good shooting defense numbers. Goodwin and Wiltjer had the toughest time of things with Noel following up. Kyle and Nerlens at least have the excuse of playing inside where it's easier to make baskets. Goodwin was defending Dez Wells a lot and although Wells didn't have a great offensive game, he is amongst the best perimeter players in the country.
  • Mays and Polson made most of their defensive contributions from the turnover area although in Polson's case that's a bit misleading since he only forced the 1 steal. But boy-howdy what a steal it was!
  • No one has a good Defensive Rebound % number. If you are shocked by this then you need to go watch the game again.

Individual Ratings

Kentucky Ratings
Name Stops Scores Plays Stop% DPoss% Opp Eff Def. Rtg
Julius Mays 6.0 1.0 7.0 0.86 0.13 28.6 90.4
Nerlens Noel 8.9 6.4 15.3 0.58 0.34 85.2 95.0
Kyle Wiltjer 5.0 3.5 8.4 0.59 0.20 83.2 96.6
Jarrod Polson 1.4 1.0 2.4 0.59 0.06 82.1 98.8
Archie Goodwin 2.8 3.2 6.1 0.47 0.09 99.0 99.9
Ryan Harrow 0.5 2.0 2.5 0.20 0.14 120.7 103.0
Alex Poythress 2.8 4.8 7.6 0.37 0.19 118.4 103.5
Undefended 3.8 5.0 8.8 0.43 0.13 136.0 104.6
Willie Cauley-Stein 4.8 7.2 12.0 0.40 0.25 124.6 106.1
  • Julius Mays comes away with the best Defensive Rating of the game, thanks mostly to his work forcing turnovers. He did a pretty good job defending shots as well.
  • I'm a little surprised at how high Noel's rating is as he and Willie Cauley-Stein both had a really hard time with Alex Len. But Noel did enough good work against the other Maryland players to balance that out.
  • Jarrod Polson comes away with a solid defensive performance although Maryland really did not go after him at all. I'm not sure why that is, but Polson defending Nick Faust and Seth Allen a lot so it's not like he was guarding the 5th option the whole time.
  • Willie Cauley-Stein got the worst of it defending Len. Thanks to Noel's foul trouble it was Willie who had to spend most of the time guarding what looks like will be on the of the best big men in the ACC this year.
One thing that struck me while watching the game again was that it seemed that whomever Jarrod was guarding was not as involved offensively as they were when Polson was on the bench, most notably Nick Faust. I did not keep track of it specifically but it's something I might go back and look at more closely. It's something that bears watching in future games.
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