Following the Kentucky Wildcats’ 86-46 victory over New Mexico State on Monday night, Aggies head coach Jason Hooten was highly complimentary of the Wildcats and their transition game.
Kentucky outscored the Aggies 25-7 on fast-break points.
Hooten had the following to say in his postgame presser.
“They’re so elite in transition,” said Hooten. “Elite elite transition team. He (John Calipari) gets those big guys back, and they’ve got a chance to be really good.”
So, just how good is Kentucky at turning defense into offense?
While it’s only one game, John Calipari’s team looked pretty stellar when they forced NMSU into 18 turnovers and turned those into 24 points, while the Aggies had just six points off of six Kentucky turnovers.
D.J. Wagner turning defense into an and-☝️. pic.twitter.com/fr6cbhID1Q— Kentucky Men’s Basketball (@KentuckyMBB) November 7, 2023
Kentucky playing a guard-heavy lineup (and rotation, at least until some of their big men are able to play) certainly plays to this strength.
However, it’s still remarkable just how well the Wildcats were able to execute on defense and then get the ball in the hoop on the other end, especially since the guys usually doing it on this night were freshmen.
Whether it was Rob Dillingham, DJ Wagner, or Reed Sheppard, these young Cats showed a lot of chemistry on the fast break, which bodes well for the rest of the season.
It’s also nice to know that there’s a good chance Dillingham and Sheppard are both back next season, so Kentucky’s dominance on the fast break could be here to stay for the foreseeable future.
Shifty and one, Rob Dillingham. pic.twitter.com/pSX73eey09— Kentucky Men’s Basketball (@KentuckyMBB) November 7, 2023
The Wildcats have several guards who appear like they can finish in the paint, which will bode well for fast break attempts and capitalizing on their defensive efforts. Everyone playing strong defense also helps offset some of the loss of not having Aaron Bradshaw, Ugonna Onyenso, and Zvonimir Ivisic to guard the rim.