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Kentucky’s plan to limit Alabama’s three-point barrage

Photo by Crimson Tide Photos / UA Athletics

Photo by Crimson Tide Photos / UA Athletics

Kentucky learned just how dangerous Alabama’s style of play is under Nate Oats is a few weeks ago in Rupp Arena. The Crimson Tide, now ranked No. 9 in the AP Poll, hit 14 threes en route to an 85-65 win over the Cats, and a few games later, made 23 vs. LSU, an SEC record. As you might expect, slowing that three-point barrage down is priority number one for Kentucky heading into tomorrow night’s rematch in Tuscaloosa.

“I think the biggest thing is contesting them,” assistant coach Bruiser Flint said today. “They’re going to make tough threes because that’s what they do. We’re not going to stop them from shooting threes. They’re going to try to get 30-40 three-point shots off a game, so our biggest thing is you’ve got to do a better job of contesting them and we can’t turn the ball over to them so now they get unguarded threes in transition because we’re turning the ball over. That’s when they’re at their best, when they’re getting it up and down and shooting the three-ball.”

Alabama is tied for fourth in the country in threes made, with 179 so far this season. They’re averaging 11.2 threes per game, 13.3 in SEC play, and, as Flint said, don’t hesitate to let them fly, even in transition. Earlier this month, the Crimson Tide had 28 points off 19 Kentucky turnovers, a number Flint said has to come down.

“One, they played with a lot more toughness than we played with,” Flint said of Alabama. “The other thing about the game is, and it’s been our Achilles’ Heel all year, points off turnovers. I want to say they had 28 points off turnovers. When we have that high of a number, it doesn’t matter who we’re playing; they’re even more dangerous because they’re probably the best offensive team in the league. So, if you give it to them off turnovers, they’re going to convert them.”

Oats’ offense has been the talk of college basketball in recent weeks, with the shot chart vs. LSU — all threes and points in the paint — going viral. According to KenPom, 41.1% of Alabama’s points come from threes, which ranks No. 11 in the country and is No. 1 among Power 5 teams.

“You’ve gotta see their warm-ups,” Flint said. “They barely shoot layups in their warm-up lines so the three-ball is what they do. That’s what they do. They want to shoot a lot of them. They’ve shot it extremely well. That’s one reason why they’ve gotten away from a lot of teams. When they come down and the second they start knocking them down, you can’t keep pace and it’s a tough struggle. We’ve got to do a better job of chasing them off the three-point line but I bet you that’s every team they play talks about that so we’ve got to do a better job of doing that and again, it comes back to the whole turnover thing. If you’re not giving them the ball, you’re making them play in front of you, you’ve got a better chance of playing defense.”

So, ball security, physical play, and praying Alabama is cold for once. Got it.

Article written by Mrs. Tyler Thompson

No, I will not make you a sandwich, but you can follow me on Twitter @MrsTylerKSR or email me.

10 Comments for Kentucky’s plan to limit Alabama’s three-point barrage

  1. VirginiaCat
    2:06 pm January 25, 2021 Permalink

    This will be.a good opportunity to see if we can learn from our mistakes and make adjustments. We should have watched tape and been prepared the first time, but no excuse this time around after being spanked hard.

  2. Dustin Rumbaugh
    2:15 pm January 25, 2021 Permalink

    If you can legit hit the three, ala Golden State, it becomes almost possible to defend because you’re the opposite of what is logical: don’t give them the three, give up the two, which is goofy. You’re almost stuck either giving 3s or easy buckets, make your choice. That doesn’t come just from having great shooters, it comes from spreading the floor and not worrying about a post presence and worrying more about moving yourselves and the ball and getting open looks from deep. Someone said it earlier about Mintz on a dive that Askew replaced and they churned like butter. We hit a 3. If we could do that, we could get good looks and all of this “but they’re great shooters they just aren’t falling” would stop. We run an early 2000’s offense in a world that runs a 2020 offense. Double postmen. The elbow pass to a big to immediately look for the other big on the block….doesn’t work anymore. It just clogs the lane. We need to switch or we’re gonna play this way every year no matter how talented we are.

    • Bigblu30
      3:39 pm January 25, 2021 Permalink


    • Megan
      5:23 pm January 25, 2021 Permalink

      Bless your little heart, Dustin, you’ve got it exactly backward. What’s goofy is don’t give them the two, give up the three. Alabama is more efficient from behind the arc than they are from inside. So how does it make sense to focus your defense on the latter? If it’s a choice, take away their strength.

      Defend the three, defend it hard, and defend it well outside the arc. Force them to drive on you. That’s what you want! When they drive, you immediately reduce the damage they can do, unless you insist on fouling on the shot every time, or a help defender (who doesn’t really help) leaves his man wide open behind the arc (Alabama often gives up the easy two for a shot at three). Denying threes and giving up twos could save you 11 points a game on average, maybe as many as 20 in a game, depending on how and how many they’re shooting. And that could well be the difference.

      Can you imagine how this Alabama team would burn Tubby’s ball-line sagging help defense? Holy crap. That’s exactly what Alabama wants, a team so afraid of drives to the basket the defenders back off their man, reach one arm out in false defense (ahem, Askew), and give up a ton of threes. That’s the ‘Bama dream for sure. So don’t play dat.

  3. jaws2
    3:27 pm January 25, 2021 Permalink

    Stay in Lexington, that’ll stop the barrage.

  4. wildcatdon
    3:43 pm January 25, 2021 Permalink

    We have no one that can stop anyone off the dribble. This ought to be good.

  5. Bluenblood
    4:44 pm January 25, 2021 Permalink

    Just shut down Petty. Can a 5 star do that???? Stop him and we have great chance to win IMO

  6. trumpetguy
    5:20 pm January 25, 2021 Permalink

    Surely UK will try and run 3 point shooters off the line and invite drives instead. This game should be a good test for IJ/KB and their ability to contest shots at the rim.

    • Megan
      5:25 pm January 25, 2021 Permalink

      You’d think, right? And don’t call me Shirley.

  7. millertim
    11:32 am January 26, 2021 Permalink

    Nate Oats is running a modern offense that mirrors the NBA trend. The post-up offense is more potent of you have a few 3 point shooters on the perimeter and the post MUST look to kick it back out!! We should be looking to move the ball quicker around the perimeter to free up 3 point shooters (Mintz, Allen)!