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De’Aaron Fox is Kentucky Wildcats’ most important player

Is De’Aaron Fox the key to Kentucky’s success? Hofstra thinks so.

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NCAA Basketball: Valparaiso at Kentucky Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

USA Today’s Nicole Auerbach got a peek into Hofstra’s scouting report before the Pride tried to take down Kentucky on Sunday. Perhaps the most prominent thing on Head Coach Joe Mihalich’s scouting report was the need to stop De’Aaron Fox.

“Know where Fox is at all times,” Mihalich said. “He might not be the highest draft pick on this team, but he’s the straw that stirs the drink.”

Hofstra assistant Lamar Barrett was in charge of scouting Kentucky for this game, and his praise of Fox went even further than Mihalich’s did.

“Fox is top-five in the country in assists, and he gets those guys easier shots,” Barrett said. “When you can slow him down a little bit, hopefully he’s not living in the lane as much. If he’s living in the lane, that means he’s going to get lobs to (Bam) Adebayo, or he’s going to get post touches for (Isaac) Humphries or open shots for shooters along the perimeter.”

Hofstra didn’t do a terrible job of stopping Fox. They held him down in the first half with their zone defense, not allowing him to run in transition, which he loves to do. He was, however, able to get out and run in the second half, and ended up putting 15 points.

Despite the fact that Hofstra held him to 2 assists, he still made his presence felt. Stopping Fox is certainly easier said than done. While it’s debatable as to whether or not Fox is Kentucky’s best player, he’s almost certainly their best transition player.

When Hofstra allowed him to get out and run, they lost all control they had over him. As long as Fox can keep pushing the pace and remain as effective as he’s been doing so, few teams will be able to stop these Cats.