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UK: College Ball’s New “Bad Boys”?


Basketball teams, as you know, take on their own unique personalities as the season progresses.  A style that may be one squad’s modus operandi would not fly with another, and vice versa.  As the members bond into a single cohesive unit, strengths are combined and refined in such a way to make the sum of the parts, hopefully, greater than the whole.  John Wall’s team, for instance, was the rare combination of blazing speed and brute strength.  Pure physical prowess.  Brandon Knight led last year’s squad with patience and focused execution.  Pristine precision.  But this year?  Well, this year is all about dominating defense.  Pounding opponents into the ground, stomping their face (or groin, if you’re Marquis Teague) and whalloping every offensive play they run.  If I was an SEC opponent, I’d pick up my ball and go home at halftime.  There’s an old saying, you might have heard of it, that goes something like “Defense wins championships.”  Well, there’s no better defensive team in the country.  Jinx?  Hopefully not.  Accurate?  Definitely.


I may be having more fun watching this year’s team than I have through any year in recent memory.  I typically get a kick out of fast-paced offense, high-flying acrobatics flush with alley-oops and threes, but that was probably because I’d never seen a team play defense like this.  Let’s just look at some stats here, shall we?  We shot 10% from outside.  We were one Doron Lamb moneyball away from breaking the streak of consecutive games with a three.  That’s not very good.  But it didn’t matter.  The number of turnovers and steals were exactly the same on both sides, at 11 and 6, respectively.  We’re supposed to be better than that, and force more turnovers and takeaways.  That didn’t matter either.  We got doubled up on the offensive glass, and while we had more rebounds overall, the margin there was negligible, at only 6.  You see where I’m going with this?  Yep, that didn’t matter either.


What mattered was that Tennessee shot 28.1% overall, and got out-blocked 11-1.  That’s stupid good.  Take out Swiperboy (which isn’t a fair analysis, but go with me on this one), and UT shot 20.8%.  “But look at their freethrow percentage!” the loyal Vol might say.  “It was 71.4%!”  That’s because (1) MKG can’t get in your face on FTs, and (2) you only shot 7 through the entire game.  Seven. Free. Throws.  In twenty minutes.  Meanwhile the Cats shot 88.9% on 27 free throws.  It’s apparent the guys have been staying after practice to shoot.  What a payoff.


There’s a lot of season left.  I understand that.  But if this team plays the rest of the season like it has the last few games, it’s over.  I’m knocking on wood again, but I mean it.  This team is not scared of anybody, and they shouldn’t be.  Unlike the last couple years, this team doesn’t rely on offense to win games.  I mean c’mon, we only scored 69 points last night, which is almost ten under our season average.  We won by 25.  That’s unbelievable.  I don’t know if this team has undergone a permanent transformation, or is just playing at a peak right now that will be followed by a (hopefully brief) valley, but the style of play is reminiscent of the’89-90 Detroit Pistons.  That team, featuring none other than Dennis “The Worm” Rodman (one of my favorite players) won the championship by pairing a sub-par 104 points per game with a league-leading defense and a bully’s mentality.  Similarly, we’re not just beating teams, we’re taking lunch money.  And I absolutely love it.

Article written by Corey Nichols

26 Comments for UK: College Ball’s New “Bad Boys”?

  1. charles
    9:12 am February 1, 2012 Permalink

    This season has also been my favorite to watch since 96. Watching this team play defense is unbelievable especially when davis is in the game. He is the key on defense. They dont have to play overly aggressive ie. every other team in the sec with hand checks and grabbing jerseys. They move their feet and get their hands up and stay between the ball and the basket, and if someone gets past their man they know what is coming from the help side and often good shots go bad because opponents change their shot due to davis

  2. ktmiln2
    9:14 am February 1, 2012 Permalink

    I don’t get why people have been so negative. This team is an absolute thrill to watch. What I fear for our opponents is, I don’t think we’ve peaked yet. I think we’re just now starting to play to their potential.

  3. GetThatCrapOuttaHere
    9:26 am February 1, 2012 Permalink

    I still can’t figure out why they gave Anthony Davis the technical???

  4. Al's IndiCats
    9:28 am February 1, 2012 Permalink

    This team is flat out a freak of nature. Just when you may think it may not be better they play like they did last night. This team is just SHOCK AND AWE. I would love it if IU were to make the Tourny and we’d meet up again just to show the country that the game in December was just a fluke.
    The best part of this team, someone may be struggling, but they don’t miss a beat because there is always someone else to pick up the slack.
    Listening to the announcers they were talking about “cuse’s 2/3 zone, and they thought UK would have a problem with it. What I say is, bring on that other Fugley Orange. GO CATS!!!!!!!!

  5. RicksAuntWithGoodEyes
    9:32 am February 1, 2012 Permalink

    3- I can’t either. From what I saw, if anyone deserved one, it would of been Teague. He kinda came in to the scrum body-banging, but I guess maybe Anthony said something.

    There’s 40 minutes in college basketball games, Corey.

  6. Wu Tang Financial
    9:38 am February 1, 2012 Permalink

    They should call Anthony Davis “Mayflower” like the moving company, because he will pack your s**t and move it on out! He is a beast!

  7. Poindexter
    9:41 am February 1, 2012 Permalink

    If the season were to end today, would this be the best defensive team Kentucky has ever fielded? Looking only at FG% defense for the last 15 years, it’s not even close.

  8. NotSatire
    9:52 am February 1, 2012 Permalink

    I love this team. Tubby’s 03 team jelled this way at Vandy with defense. But this one is better. I haven’t enjoyed a single game this much since the Cousins, Wall tackle
    against MSU.

  9. OogieBoogieMan
    9:57 am February 1, 2012 Permalink

    Boy the hype machine is heating up… hope the guys keep their heads on straighter than the fans are doing! Yes, this team’s defense is suffocating when they’re locked in. The biggest concern with this team is whether they’ll suffer a scoring drought like the 2010 did team vs. West VA. Their half-court offense still seems to struggle at times. If they can get that corrected then look out. Knight, Harrelson and company made huge improvements in their half-court O down the stretch last year. Hopefully the same light bulb will go on for this team.

  10. SteveM
    10:04 am February 1, 2012 Permalink

    The swagger is back.

  11. GetThatCrapOuttaHere
    10:05 am February 1, 2012 Permalink

    Just went on Volnation to see fans reactions. So many of em complaining about the refereeing and the discrepancy in amount of free throws taken. But most just recognize we have superior talent.

  12. Don
    10:11 am February 1, 2012 Permalink

    i hope the new uniforms are put in moth balls. We couldn’t even read the numbers on their jerseys from our seats. Even Pat Forde said it was hard to see who was scoring because of the uniforms.

  13. J-Daddy
    10:15 am February 1, 2012 Permalink

    Best part of last nights game was MKG mouthing all the way down the court after Davis got T’d up…I was laughing my butt off watching MKG talk trash, reminded me of Liggins last year.
    This team is scary, they haven’t hit their ceiling yet “no matter what Cal says, we all know how he talks”…If they keep climbing at the rate they are going they will be scary to play by March.

  14. schwing
    10:18 am February 1, 2012 Permalink

    the, um… the game is 40 minutes long…

  15. catnhat
    10:19 am February 1, 2012 Permalink

    A 20. Minute. Game? All the periods. Threw. Him. Off. I. Think.

  16. catnhat
    10:20 am February 1, 2012 Permalink

    Wow. Corey. Sort of sounds. Like what it would be. If Christopher Walken. Was typing.

  17. Mr Obvious
    10:41 am February 1, 2012 Permalink

    Vote for Anthony Davis over Cody Zeller!!! It’s a tight race!!

  18. NCCAT
    11:09 am February 1, 2012 Permalink

    “Seven. Free. Throws. In twenty minutes.”

    No wonder UT lost – they only played 20 minutes.

  19. Eloy
    11:22 am February 1, 2012 Permalink

    #18 wins. I’m not going to try.

    This is a fun team to watch. But we gotta stay grounded. I would be worried if we didn’t loose a game between now and the end of the year. I’m that kind of fan, I can’t help it.

    Give the kid a break, ‘twenty’ and ‘forty’ are very simlar words, I mean they both end in ‘ty.’ I get ‘turtle’ and ‘little’ confused all the time…

  20. tvillian
    11:31 am February 1, 2012 Permalink

    12. you have to see the numbers on the back of the jersey to know who scored, you cant tell the difference between Wiltjer and Davis? or Davis and Teague? come on the new unis were awesome especially if we keep playing in them the way we did last night

  21. NotSatire
    12:07 pm February 1, 2012 Permalink

    The new unis are allright. Nike got their wish. Players are happy. Poor Forde…”Was that TJones or MTeague that jumped over that Vol?”

  22. fan1
    12:36 pm February 1, 2012 Permalink

    20. Watching it on television it was impossible to see the numbers and often you could not tell the difference in the players. I do hope they permanently do away with those uniforms. They are absolutely terrible.

  23. REAL BLY
    1:01 pm February 1, 2012 Permalink

    Pat Forde…I used to hate him, still do I guess….but Doug Snottlieb can kiss my A$$!!!!!

  24. Mr. Ready
    1:13 pm February 1, 2012 Permalink

    I think alot of people are jumping the gun. My expections for this team are extremely high but my fear is that this team doesn’t peak too early before tourney time. Plus beating LSU and then this TN team at Rupp does not mean that much. Just enjoy the ride and hopefully the teams best ball is still in front of them THEN we can talk about crowning them a couple months or so down the road. True tests will be at Vandy and Fl.

  25. Aaron Craft's Rosacea
    1:44 pm February 1, 2012 Permalink

    I agree Mr. Ready. I think we are making strides and are close to where we need to be but we need to play some better teams before we say they are meeting their potential. One thing I can tell you from last night is our perimeter defense has to improve. Teams will revise their game plans because of Davis inside and if Teague and Lamb don’t improve in that area they will take advantage of that. The true test will be to see how we handle seasoned guard play with Florida. If we can contain veteran guards like Boynton and Walker then we are in great shape.

  26. Ciggy
    6:22 pm February 1, 2012 Permalink

    God, the past two games have me grinning from ear to ear. I hope our boys can keep it up, taking lunch money and smacking down folks like nothing i’ve seen in YEARS.

    First part of the season the games were so damn boring, that UL game was damn near unwatchable, but the past couple have been a blast to watch. MKG talking trash makes me happy as all hell, that kid is amazing.

    I remember a few weeks back someone was talking about us needing an enforcer, Looking how quick they run to help someone up, I get the feeling the entire team are enforcers, you hurt one of them or take a swing at one of our boys and god help you.