Inside the Play: Inbounds to Knight

A lot has been made of UK’s sixth SEC road loss, this one by only one point. And a lot went into that loss, moreso than just the one particular play broken down here. But a lot was said and made of the last inbounds play, so I took some screencaps and walked through it. A quick reset of the scenario: UK is down 1 at Arkansas, inbounding the ball under their own basket, with 1.8 seconds left in overtime.

DeAndre Liggins is inbounding the ball. UK has a stack of Brandon Knight (top), Josh Harrellson (middle), and Terrence Jones (bottom) in the paint, and Darius Miller alone at the top as a last resort outlet. Head coach John Calipari said the progression for Liggins was to look to the basket, to the corner or to the rim.

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Knight cuts of a screen set by Harrellson, coming toward Liggins and the left corner. Jones is going under Harrellson. At this point, the referee has counted off two seconds out of the five-second violation. Now, UK has twice had trouble inbounding the ball in time; I have no idea whether Calipari made note of that to Liggins. UK has no timeouts, so Liggins HAD to get the ball in to someone. Perhaps that was a factor, perhaps not. I don’t know. What is apparent is that Liggins is already keyed in on Knight.

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The man on Harrellson hedges as Knight comes relatively — but not completely — free of his man. Jones’ man sticks with Jones. As you can see, Liggins is already making to pass to Knight.

Liggins gets the ball to Knight in the corner, who already has a man right in front of him before he’s even square to shoot. Knight will miss the shot.

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This is the frame where you can see Harrellson is open under the basket. At best, he gets the ball and quickly lays it in for the win. At semi-best, he gets the ball and gets hacked from behind, sending him to the free throw line to tie or win. At worst, he gets the ball but fumbles it or gets stripped.

“Josh was wide open,” Calipari said after the game. “Right there on the block. What you’re looking at is the guy at the rim, the guy in the corner, the guy in the block. We kind of threw it to the wrong guy.”

Regardless, a lot was made that Liggins simply missed Harrellson. That doesn’t seem to be exactly the case; it was more like Liggins wasn’t patient enough to wait and see if Harrellson would be able to roll free after setting the screen. Like I said, Liggins’ relative impatience may have been compounded by knowing he had to get the ball in and feeling the referee ticking away the seconds. Some may contend he should have seen the play developing and known Harrellson would be free — but even that would be tough, because while it’s easy to see Harrellson open in a screenshot, the window of time when he was actually open was very small. Whichever way the truth leaned, he got the ball to Brandon Knight — who had been carrying the team all night — for a last-second shot.

Screenshots courtesy of SEC Network television coverage.
Follow Aaron on Twitter @KernelASmith

Chip Miller says:

Nice read Aaron. Super job…