3 things we learned: UK 82, Samford 50



Three things we learned in UK’s 82-50 win over Samford

1. These games are all about “working out the kinks,” as Darius Miller said Monday, and I was looking most at UK’s 3-point defense in this game. Samford came into the game having made the second-most 3s in the nation (although most of that is from volume shooting — Samford was shooting a mediocre 34.6 percent, but had the highest ratio of 3-point attempts to total field goal attempts in the nation and was getting 50 percent of all points from 3-pointers). Against the Cats, who have been working on sticking with shooters on the perimeter and trusting their interior defense to help if they get beat off the dribble, Samford shot 3 of 16 from deep. This doesn’t mean the problem has been solved, but you can guarantee defending the three was a point of emphasis entering this game — and UK met it.

2. While that aspect of the defense was working, the other part was not. UK was burned on backdoor cuts at least five or six times. Coming into the game, UK was best in the nation at defending two-point shots (opponents were shooting 33.9 percent). Samford shot 17 of 30 on two-pointers. I can’t make up my mind if these two things are linked or not. Perhaps UK was overly focused on defending the three, and so it was underprepared to defend the interior. Perhaps it was just the way things worked out this game. I’ll let you know what coaches and players think after the press conference. (UPDATE: Calipari said his team “stopped playing” in half court defense, which allowed Samford to make those cuts effectively.)

3. Doron Lamb is becoming UK’s best offensive option, especially if you define “offensive option” as “scoring points for your team.” The leading scorer for the season (15.8 points per game coming into this one) led the team with 26 points. He showed a few versatile moves attacking the basket — I love that baseline floater — and his customary accuracy from deep, making 4 of 6 3-pointers.

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