“This is who we are. This is how we coach. This is us.” – John Calipari
What happens when one of the top defenses in the country enters into Rupp Arena to face the surging Wildcats?
Tennessee discovered a red-hot shooting team that didn’t care that they had been holding teams to less than 70 points per game, including a win at South Carolina where they allowed less than 50 points.
Like a firestorm blowing across the hardwood, the Wildcats were nothing short of spectacular offensively.
Shooting 71% from two point range, 61% from the arc, and over 95% from the free throw line singed the nets at Rupp against a defense that could find no way to stop the Kentucky flurry. Washington had 28 points, Wheeler returned with 21 points, Grady unleashed 16 points and Mintz arrived as the sixth man with 10 points.
As the smoke cleared from the smoldering nets the Kentucky Wildcats had put on their best shooting performance in over 20 years. You have to roll back the record book to December of 2000 when the Tubby Smith coached Cats shot 68.9% against Indiana.
One of the keys of the matchup was that Kentucky was never trapped into a half court game, instead they were able to constantly transform the action on the floor into transition.
Top Offensive Players in the nation, according to OBPR at https://t.co/cegyfz8ykZ, which measures offensive impact:— Evan Miyakawa (@EvanMiya) January 18, 2022
1 Drew Timme
2 Keegan Murray
3 Kofi Cockburn
4 Trevion Williams
5 Chet Holmgren
6 Jaden Ivey
7 Ochai Agbaji
8 Collin Gillespie
9 Hyunjung Lee
10 TyTy Washington pic.twitter.com/5S7zLABW3a
To say that this team plays fast is insulting to the speed. This is a lightning tempo that finds the ball moving up and down the floor with tempo, pressure, and the pace wearing down the opposition.
The offense has come together and looks great.
There is need for defensive improvement, to be sure, but the pieces are there.
Kentucky now hits the road and for Texas A&M and Auburn. In the middle of Winter the temperature is rising. The Cats are good and now have to figure out how to unleash the heat on the road against these two SEC rivals.