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Kentucky Wildcats Basketball: X's and O's from the Portland Game

If you turn your head on Anthony Davis, this is what you're likely to see when you turn it back.
If you turn your head on Anthony Davis, this is what you're likely to see when you turn it back.

In our continuing attempt to analyze some of the interesting individual plays from games this year, today we are going to take a look at a play made possible by Anthony Davis' flexibility.

As we all know by now, Davis grew eight inches or so in his junior year in high school. Before that, he was a 6'2" 2-guard, but when he spurted up, he had to make the transition from a perimeter player to an inside player. The thing was, though, Davis didn't lose any of his guard skills in making the transition. The result is a player with power forward size and guard skill, and never has that combination looked more deadly than in the play we will examine today.

The play happens late in the first half of the UK game with the Portland Pilots. In this set, Davis starts out on the wing. It isn't a dribble-drive setup, though, it is more of a traditional baseline screen play to create a post-up opportunity for Terrence Jones. But that is only the beginning.

Follow me past the jump for the analysis.

The success of this play is really a demonstration of how effective Davis can be a luring big people away from the basket in a context where you have to closely guard Kentucky's perimeter players, in this case Lamb and Miller.

When Davis can go outside like this and his defender follows, it really creates a lot of space in the interior, because you can't cheat off Miller and Lamb. Portland's defenders have this clearly in mind when this play develops.

Baseline post to dunk

1) O1=Doron Lamb, O2=Darius Miller, O3=Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, O4=Terrence Jones, O5=Anthony Davis

The initial setup is basically a 2-in, 3-out set, but one of the inside people is Doron Lamb. Note that the Portland center is far away from Davis.

Doron Lamb sets a baseline screen on Jones' defender, and frees him for a post-up on the left block. Miller swings the ball over to Davis on the left wing.
2) After the Lamb pick, Jones is open in the post with his defender on his hip. Davis takes a dribble to the left to get a better angle on the entry pass.

Lamb cuts to the top of the key to draw his defender and create space in the lane. Miller and Kidd-Gilchrist swap positions on the floor.
3) Davis passes to the open Jones in the post, and Davis' defender moves away from Davis to help on Jones.

Davis cuts right into the open lane and curls straight to the basket
4) Jones executes a perfect lob to Davis, who dunks the ball.

The success of this play was made possible by two things -- the need to double-team Jones in the post and the fact that the double, in this case, could not come from a guard, like you would normally want on defense. Because Davis is so mobile and such a good ballhandler, the extra defender had to come from his man, as he was the only one near enough to offer help on Jones.

Davis reads the defender's eyes, and as soon as his defender turns his head to help on Jones, Davis slashes to the rim. The late is wide open because UK has great spacing on this play, and by the time Portland has any idea of what is happening, it is far too late.

This is a play that North Carolina will have to watch out for, because John Henson is not nearly quick enough to guard Davis on a cut, and even though Henson has fantastic length, he has to give Davis room, and could easily wind up having to help on Jones or let the post defender play one-on-one. North Carolina's instinct is to defend the paint, so I would expect the double team to come, and a similar result if it does.

Watch for more of this play in UK's future games. It is very hard to guard.