Getting defensive: Lamb shifts focus away from scoring

UK freshman Doron Lamb isn’t taking his offensive talent to South Beach, just to another facet of his game.

In the latter portion of the season, it’s been clear Lamb hasn’t posted the gaudy offensive numbers he did earlier this season. But to himself, teammates and his coaches, Lamb is improving.

“I’m just trying to work harder on defense, do whatever I can do to help my team win,” Lamb said.

At the 21-games mark this season (through UK’s loss at Ole Miss) Lamb average 14.2 points per game and had only finished in single digits seven times, 33 percent of the games.

In the last nine games, however, he has posted single-digit final numbers six times, 66 percent of those games. That gives way to an average of 9.8 points per game, nearly five points less than he was putting up earlier in the year.

With that, his role on the team has changed. As of late, Lamb has been in charge of sticking with the opposing team’s best offensive man.

Most recently, he helped guard Tennessee junior Scotty Hopson when UK’s known best defender junior DeAndre Liggins needed a break

UK head coach John Calipari even seemed to take offense when asked about Lamb not having as much success.

“No, what you guys are missing is he’s really defending,” Calipari said. “For the first time in his life, he’s using up a ton of energy defending. His offense is lacking a little bit, but not much. But he doesn’t have the energy because he’s really thinking, ‘You know, I’ve got to guard somebody,’ which is something we’ve been on him about.”

But Lamb said he’s familiar with the role, as he guarded the opposing team’s best player when he was at Oak Hill Academy. As with most things in college basketball compared to high school, though, it is much harder, he said. Lamb attributed the number of offensive screens to being one of the main reasons.

Despite having the correct mindset and knowing the position, Lamb said he never asked for the role of guarding the opposing team’s best players. It was something Calipari assigned to him.

“I have a lot of confidence (as a defender),” Lamb said. “Coach is letting me guard the best player, I’m doing a good job, I think. If he keeps giving me that job, I can do it.”

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