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Defensive Charting: Kentucky vs Ole Miss

The Kentucky Wildcats earned their biggest win of the season on Tuesday by going into Oxford, MS and knocking off Mississippi behind a record-setting performance by Nerlens Noel. Here's a closer look at the defensive side of the victory.

This.  Lots and lots of This.
This. Lots and lots of This.

It's been a while since I got a chance to do one of these, I've just been too busy this year to keep up with charting. However, I can't pass up what is easily the biggest win and arguably the best performance of the season by the Cats. Nerlens Noel is the headline for setting the school record for blocks, but that's not all he did. Like Anthony Davis last year, Noel's defense is more than just great shot blocking.

Here's the defensive summary for the Cats individually:

Kentucky Ratings
Name Stop% DPoss% Opp Eff DRtg
Nerlens Noel 0.76 0.20 44.9 88.0
Jarrod Polson 0.52 0.31 90.5 96.1
Julius Mays 0.58 0.22 94.5 97.7
Ryan Harrow 0.55 0.11 90.4 97.8
Kyle Wiltjer 0.48 0.22 103.8 99.8
Undefended 0.52 0.06 119.0 99.8
Alex Poythress 0.42 0.28 106.0 100.7
Archie Goodwin 0.41 0.12 130.5 102.4
Jon Hood 0.48 0.25 133.1 107.3

For the game, Ole Miss scored 74 points on 75 offensive possessions for an overall team efficiency of 98.7 points per 100 possessions. That's the baseline that you should use when looking at the individual Defensive Ratings above. Noel was a sick 10.7 points better than the team average - that's absurdly good.

On his individual plays Nerlens held the Rebels Black Bears to a 44.9 Efficiency - that's basically what South Carolina managed against Florida last night. For comparison, last year in Rupp Anthony Davis posted a 109 Opponent Efficiency mark against this same front line. 75% of the time when a Bear challenged Noel, UK got the ball back and Ole Miss got a goose egg.

For the rest of the team, while there were some defensive let downs during the game - inevitable when playing on the road against a team as good as Mississippi - most everyone had some good moments.

  • Julius Mays got beat several times but he also grabbed 6 defensive rebounds - not a small feat given that Ole Miss grabbed 42.6% of their own misses.
  • Jarrod Polson battled hard all night. He took his turn covering Marshall Henderson and did a solid job.
  • Kyle Wiltjer was pretty solid. He was particularly good on the perimeter, jumping out to help cover Henderson and on a number of occasions denied easy passes. Also, Kyle blocked a shot that somehow was credited to Ryan Harrow. (This happens a bit more often than you might think. Last year Terrence Jones blocked a shot that somehow got credited to someone who was on the bench at the time. Go figure.)
  • Loved seeing Jon Hood get some first half action - I thought he played quite well. Serious question: if Cal could play Hood in the first half when the game was back and forth, why not some in the 2nd half when they were up double figures? I would love to see what he could do with 8-10 minutes a game the rest of the way.

That's an abbreviated version of the DSS, but here is one last thing: a graphic showing a running 7-possession average of Kentucky's efficiencies, scaled out to 75 possessions (the length of the game).


You can really see where the offense and defense both excelled midway through the game. During that stretch in the middle, the Cats were operating so well on offense that if they could have done it the entire game they would have scored north of 140 points.

You can also see how Mississippi's run at the end was aided by poor offense on Kentucky's part and where Noel figured out the right mix of aggressiveness with his 4 fouls.