This season Kentucky has faced a few teams that rely on defense to win. What the Wildcats will see in Lubbock is unlike anything they have gone against so far.
Chris Beard’s Texas Tech Red Raiders rank seventh in KenPom’s adjusted defensive efficiency metric and have the nation’s No. 25 scoring defense, allowing only 61.8 points per game.
“They’ll do stuff that not many teams do. Whether it be in the post, they’ll switch one through four. They turn down all pick-and-rolls, and if you go that way they’ll collapse. They force you baseline. So, if you catch it on the wing, they’re making you drive baseline and then they collapse and take away – it’s what they do.” said John Calipari.
“They play on-ball defense fairly good so you can try to get by them but they’re handsy. They’re going after balls and they’re doing good stuff.”
Beard has brought a blue collar mentality to Lubbock. The players are preparing for a physical game Saturday night.
“[They’re a] Really good team, well-coached, play hard,” said Immanuel Quickley, “physical, tough and how they’re coached. We’ve been preparing for it all week.”
Visiting a difficult road environment for the second consecutive Saturday, Quickley is confident the team will be ready to roll in Lubbock as soon as the ball is tipped.
“I think we’re really well-prepared. That’s why you prepare for these games, is to get ready for the tough environment. Going on the road, there’s just 12 guys that are on your bench, and a couple of coaches. I think we’ll be ready, it’s a tough challenge, but I think we’ll be ready.”
Seven weeks away from Selection Sunday, John Calipari believes this game will provide valuable lessons that will pay dividends in the NCAA Tournament.
“We’re still in January, we’re still learning about ourselves,” said Calipari. “I love this game because it’s, again, a different kind of team. You get to the NCAA Tournament and you’re facing crazy teams and this is another one. You can say, ‘remember that game? Bang. Here we go. Remember Arkansas and how they played? Here you go.'”