Auburn is a team that can light it up from the outside, ranking fifth in the country in threes made per game (10.9) and 24th in threes attempted per game (30.5). With Kentucky’s perimeter defense still one of the worst in the country (8.1 threes allowed per game on 22.4 attempts), John Calipari knows the Tigers will come out firing tomorrow.
“They’re going to shoot 35 [threes] and if you really guard them and really guard the three, they’re going to shoot 35 of them. They do it off the bounce, they do it off the catch, they do it in transition, they do it on the pick and rolls.”
The Cats have made strides with their three-point defense recently, but Calipari quipped that simply led to easy inside baskets for Georgia on Tuesday.
“Yeah, but then the team dunked the first five shots. We guarded the three well and then they dunked every ball on us. This is a work in progress.”
Kentucky’s been able to overcome slow starts for the most part, but with the competition only getting stronger, Calipari warned his players that’s a luxury they can no longer afford.
“When you’re playing really good teams and they get you down, they’re not letting you back in. Then you’ll make your run and you’re exhausted. And they make a run and it’s back to where it was. The start of the game is important. The first five minutes of each half are important.”
Translation: don’t let Bryce Brown (37.8% 3PT FG) and Jared Harper (40.2% 3PT FG) get going while also defending Austin Wiley in the post. That’s a pretty tall task in what will be a wild Auburn Arena.
“This is a team that’s shooting 35 threes and if they make 20, what’s the next game? They’re shooting whether you’re on them, hanging on them. They’re shooting them. Long rebounds matter in this game. I like to press a pressing team. I like to drive a driving team. I’m not so apt to shoot the three with a three-point shooting team, we don’t play that way, but I guess that would be the other side. We’ll shoot more threes than they do.”
Paging Tyler Herro and Keldon Johnson.