The Kentucky Wildcats took care of business on Tuesday night with their 75-66 win over the Ole Miss Rebels.
A big talking point this season has been the Cats’ struggles in defending the pick-and-roll. While it still wasn’t great against the Rebels, there were some signs of improvement, especially from Oscar Tshiebwe.
There were times when Tshiebwe got beat, but he also made better defensive decisions than we have seen.
After the game, John Calipari talked about his team’s pick-and-roll defense improving and noted that it was better on Tuesday because Tshiebwe knew he would be pulled for Daimion Collins if he didn’t improve.
John Calipari says Kentucky's pick-and-roll defense was better tonight because Oscar Tshiebwe knew he'd be pulled for Daimion Collins if he didn't improve— Jack Pilgrim (@JackPilgrimKSR) February 1, 2023
Collins played just two minutes vs. the Rebels but defended the pick-and-roll well while also getting an and-1 dunk. The sophomore big man has appeared in just 13 games this season and four SEC contests.
As you may know, Collins tragically lost his father before the start of the season. Calipari revealed that led to Collins losing 16 pounds, which is significant for a kid who’s already very thin for his 6-foot-9 and 210-pound frame.
Calipari says that Daimion Collins suddenly lost 16 pounds after the passing of his father earlier this season. Feels like a long time ago but wasn’t, and that’s not something you just bounce back from. Proud of DC, had great minutes last night. Tough dude. #BBN pic.twitter.com/TiUz24IENF— Buddy (@BigBlueBud) February 1, 2023
“I love seeing him (Daimion) smile. Do you understand what he’s been through? His Dad passed. His Dad was his best friend. Would’ve been his best man at his wedding. And in Lexington passed away. And all of a sudden, he loses 16 pounds.
“Now we’re playing other people, and he finally got a chance. I told him before the game and I told Lance (Ware), ‘I’m going to go with him (Daimion) because I’m going to see if we get a little more length on the court.”
Calipari added that Lance Ware is, “One of the great leaders I’ve ever had,” as he was happy to see Collins play more, even at the veteran’s expense.
The Cats still have a long way to go on the defensive side of the court and with defending the pick-and-roll, but Tuesday night was a small step forward and hopefully the start of a lot of improvement.
More importantly, here’s to hoping this brought Collins happiness and peace after everything he’s been through.