Objective number one in today’s game for Kentucky (besides winning) was playing better defense; they definitely accomplished that in the first half, holding Alabama to 20 points off 32% shooting, a sight for sore eyes across the Commonwealth.
“They played terrific defense and we just didn’t come out ready to play,” Bama’s Dazon Ingram said of Kentucky’s start.
The second half was a different story. Alabama shot 57.7% in the second half, which Isaiah Briscoe said was unacceptable.
“In the first half, I think our defense was great,” Briscoe said. “I think the last maybe three minutes or four minutes, I don’t think they scored until he got on the free throw line with 30 seconds left in the half. The second half, we weren’t the same. I think KP [Kenny Payne] said they shot 57%, which is not good in our favor, but most of that stuff is layups and things like that but we’ve gotta get back. We’re gonna go practice and continue to work on our defense and continue to talk and just gel together.”
Throughout the game, Calipari yelled “CLAP” at his players on defense, which Briscoe may have rolled his eyes at a little when asked about, but Dominique Hawkins said it really helps the team sync up and focus.
“Yeah, it’s for us to get more energy,” Hawkins said of the clapping. “When we do clap, I feel like it actually does help, it gets us ready for the possession, everybody starts talking, gelling together. I feel like there are times we don’t even need to clap to have the energy, we’ll go down and everybody will say, we need just one stop, let’s get it.”
Briscoe proved down the stretch today that he’s Kentucky’s leader, and in the huddles, he says he’s preaching defense right now.
“I honestly just talk defense. With this team, I really don’t worry about offense because we’re so talented. Everybody can score, everybody can get off a dribble. It’s just focusing on defense and talking and just being able to come up with consecutive stops, I think that’s big for us because on offense, I know we’ll score, especially in transition and things like that. So I’m mainly just talking about defense, getting everybody to buy into defense.”
Today wasn’t perfect, but it was a good start.