Sidelines with John Clay

Kentucky basketball shows it doesn’t have to hit threes to play well

Kentucky Wildcats guard Isaiah Briscoe (13) congratulated Kentucky Wildcats guard Jamal Murray (23) after a dunk as the University of Kentucky played the University of Alabama in Rupp Arena in Lexington, Ky., Tuesday, February 23 2016. This is first half mens basketball action.
Kentucky Wildcats guard Isaiah Briscoe (13) congratulated Kentucky Wildcats guard Jamal Murray (23) after a dunk as the University of Kentucky played the University of Alabama in Rupp Arena in Lexington, Ky., Tuesday, February 23 2016. This is first half mens basketball action. Lexington Herald-Leader

In its previous five games, Kentucky shot the three-pointer at a historic level, nailing 10-or-more triples in five straight games, a school record.

Tuesday night, the Cats showed they didn’t need to make threes to play well.

UK finished just two-of-10 from behind the arc, but still dominated Alabama 78-53 at Rupp Arena.

Jamal Murray made UK’s only two threes, hitting two-of-five. Tyler Ulis missed all three of his three-point attempts. Isaiah Briscoe and Dom Hawkins each missed a three-point attempt.

Not having Derek Willis had something to do with it. The junior forward sat out because of the right ankle he sprained at Texas A&M on Saturday. During that five-game stretch, Willis made 19 of 35 three-pointers.

Turned out, it didn’t matter. UK made 25 of its 49 two-point shots. It outscored Alabama 40-22 in the paint. The Cats averaged 1.272 points per possession, best since 1.292 against Georgia on Feb. 9 and its seventh straight game of averaging 1.1 or higher.

Having Alex Poythress back helped. The senior had missed the last five games after minor surgery. He returned Tuesday to score 14 points in just 17 minutes.

Kentucky also committed just four turnovers, lowest total of the season and lowest since last year’s team committed three at Georgia on March 3.

What Kentucky did much better than it did in the overtime loss at Texas A&M on Saturday was keep Alabama off the offensive glass. The Aggies rebounded 40 percent of their misses, continuing a trend matched by Florida and South Carolina.

Alabama grabbed just six offensive rebounds compared to 26 defensive rebounds for Kentucky. That’s just 18.8 percent, lowest offensive rebound percentage by a UK opponent since Mississippi State’s 12 percent on Jan. 12.

“We’ve been playing with confidence, whether at home or on the road and we just didn’t have it tonight,” said Alabama coach Avery Johnson. “But give them credit, they had that fire in their eyes. They were one step faster than us. They jumped about two steps higher than us, so give them credit.”

Kentucky’s three-point shooting

Opponent

3PT

3PA

Pct

PPP

Albany

6

17

0.353

1.124

NJIT

5

21

0.238

1.202

vsDuke

3

10

0.300

1.095

WrightSt

2

10

0.200

1.121

Boston

3

15

0.200

1.166

@USF

6

13

0.462

1.253

Illinois State

2

12

0.167

0.989

@UCLA

8

25

0.320

1.102

EKU

4

19

0.211

1.214

Arizona State

6

21

0.286

1.023

vsOhioSt

9

19

0.474

0.976

Louisville

11

23

0.478

1.089

Ole Miss

7

25

0.280

1.230

@LSU

7

20

0.350

0.932

@Alabama

2

9

0.222

1.237

Miss State

9

23

0.391

1.135

@Auburn

6

18

0.333

0.952

@Arkansas

5

16

0.313

1.208

Vanderbilt

6

19

0.316

1.190

Missouri

9

20

0.450

1.301

@Kansas

5

23

0.217

1.019

@Tennessee

7

22

0.318

1.134

Florida

12

20

0.600

1.257

Georgia

10

21

0.476

1.292

@South Carolina

11

25

0.440

1.237

Tennessee

11

24

0.458

1.195

@Texas A&M

10

20

0.500

1.183

Alabama

2

10

0.200

1.272

Related stories from Lexington Herald Leader

  Comments