In a perfect world, Dakari Johnson would catch the ball at what's known in basketball parlance as the left block. Then, he would wheel into position for his favorite shot.
"Hook in the lane," he said before acknowledging that this world is not perfect. "But recently teams have been taking that away."
Stubbornly insisting on trying to win, opponents have been collapsing defenses ever tighter into the lane. UK's many big men, Johnson included, have had little room to operate. The crowd-pleasing alley-oop dunk has become a much rarer sight.
By contrast, teammates on the perimeter, especially the ultra-hot Devin Booker, have had plenty of time and space to shoot.
"It's expected," Johnson said Thursday. "We're used to teams kind of doubling down."
Kentucky (16-0) expects more of the same on Saturday at Alabama. Coach John Calipari said to look for a 'Bama guard to help trap Johnson and other UK "bigs" if they get the ball near the basket.
Besides preventing an easy score, Alabama will have another objective.
"See if he can pass (to the) weakside," Calipari said before identifying "he" as Karl-Anthony Towns and Johnson.
"Either you get the ball to the rim quick or (voice taking on a tone of disappointment) you're going to end up being a passer," Calipari said.
The implication seemed clear: Kentucky wants Johnson and Towns to be more decisive and productive in the post.
"Just make a quicker move," Johnson said. "Don't hold the ball too long and wait for the defense to set up."
Lately, Johnson has been — ho-hum — average as a scorer, literally as well as figuratively. He's scored eight points in each of Kentucky's last three games. His scoring average for the season: 8.3 points.
Besides being quicker in making a move, Calipari suggested that Johnson needed to diversify his shooting technique.
"Shooting with the wrong hand," the UK coach said. "Like this (holds up right hand) instead of this (holds up left hand)."
Then as if listing how Johnson can improve as a low-post threat, Calipari added, "Not jumping (enough). Not shooting quick.
"Then his confidence gets down."
Reporters did not ask Johnson if his confidence diminished. The question was whether it drained away completely.
"No," he said. "I didn't lose my confidence."
Arguably, Johnson's most notable play this season reflected an over-abundance of confidence. Of course, it was the 15-foot jumper he took early in the second half with UK locked in a surprisingly competitive game against Ole Miss. Afterward, Calipari said he cringed when Johnson took the shot.
When asked about it, Johnson smiled.
"They want me to do that because I've been working on that a lot," he said.
Calipari had asked the UK players to work on adding new components to their offense. Although, the UK coach later said, there are time-and-score considerations that should be taken into account.
"I was open," Johnson said. "I just decided to shoot it. I guess it wasn't a good time to shoot it."
A moment of triumph came last weekend. Seldom a deadeye free-throw shooter, Johnson made four of four foul shots in the second overtime to help Kentucky win at Texas A&M.
"I knew as long as I followed my same routine, they would go in," he said.
'C' for captain
By unanimous vote of his teammates, Levi Randolph is Alabama's first captain since Alonzo Gee in 2008-09. He wears a "C" on his jersey.
Randolph leads the Tide in scoring (15.1 ppg), free-throw accuracy (84.9 percent), assists (46) and steals (25).
'D' for defense
In winning 56-38 at Tennessee last weekend, Alabama held UT to its lowest point total in the history of Thompson-Boling Arena (opened in 1987). Tennessee was scoreless for more than 13 minutes of the second half.
"Their length really bothered us," UT Coach Donnie Tyndall said.
He did not necessarily mean Alabama's big men, but guards Rodney Cooper (6-foot-6) and Randolph (6-5).
"As you catch it, you look pretty open," Tyndall said. "By the time you release it, guys are right there contesting every shot."
■ Alabama is 10-0 at home this season, and has won 13 straight in Coleman Coliseum dating to last season.
■ Calipari noted that he had not won at Alabama as UK coach (0-2). The only other SEC site he has not won as UK coach is Arkansas (0-3).
■ UK's last victory at Alabama came on Jan. 24, 2009. The Cats won 61-51 to complete a 5-0 start in SEC play in Billy Gillispie's second and final season as UK coach.
■ The game is a sellout, Alabama's first since the last time Kentucky played in Tuscaloosa (Jan. 22, 2013).