In just one game last week, Linnae Harper had more steals than she had in every regular-season conference game combined last season.
Her career-best six steals in No. 10 Kentucky's win over Florida on Thursday night was one more than she had in 16 games last season.
In the five Southeastern Conference games in which she's played this season, the 5-foot-8 guard is averaging 3.2 steals, a league high.
It's caught the attention of Coach Matthew Mitchell, who only took note of Harper's defense last year because of the lack thereof.
"She tries real hard, works real hard and you don't make these kind of jumps or huge steps of improvement if you don't want to," Mitchell said on Friday, a day before the Cats left to take on Louisiana State in Baton Rouge, a place where they've won just one game since 1996. "There's just a lot to be said for her desire."
Harper, who had 25 steals all of last season, has 40 just 18 games into this season. The Chicago native has gone from an unreliable sometimes spark off the UK bench to a star starter, leading the team in rebounding (6.8 per game) and steals (2.2).
Sometimes it just takes a little push, a little nudge to get a competitor going.
That's what it took for Harper, who didn't like averaging less than 15 minutes a game last season and struggled with where she fit in at a defensive-minded place like Kentucky.
"Coming out of high school, being that player, then coming to Kentucky and having to take a step back," Harper said, "it was hard. It was different. But kudos to my teammates and coaches for keeping me positive with a positive mind."
She changed her body in the offseason and gained confidence.
A player with loads of scoring potential wanted to be a defensive player, too.
"It was repetition, just practicing every day along with him just helping me out, just lifting me up and giving me the confidence, saying, 'Hey, you can play defense. You're going to be great at it,'" Harper recalled.
Doing repetition after repetition of defensive drills in practice and being reminded that she can be good on both ends of the floor have led to the transformation.
"She has developed so much this year," Mitchell said after UK's win over Florida. "Last year, she did not get on the floor because she couldn't defend and, now, she was out there the whole game. She is on a torrid steal pace. She is getting steal after steal."
A commitment to get better on her end and some God-given abilities have been key, he continued.
"The things you can't coach: She has great hand-eye coordination, real quick hands, great anticipation," Mitchell said. "I don't have anything to do with that."
Harper's talents were on display Thursday night when she pick-pocketed a Florida defender trying to run out the clock for the final shot to end the first half. Harper was patient and waited to make her move.
"She just seemed to be dribbling and I was waiting for it," Harper said. "I think it was just timing, just waiting on it."
Harper herself picked a good time to elevate her defense.
"This season is all about confidence, me being able to pick up the ball 94 feet and being able to turn my opponent, be disruptive so I can get the ball," she said.