By LARRY VAUGHT
From Florida coach Mike White’s perspective, Kentucky’s defense is a lot better than what UK coach John Calipari says it is — or at least it was in Saturday’s 80-61 Kentucky victory.
White said that UK sophomore point guard Tyler Ulis totally disrupted his team’s offense.
“There were three or four plays that we called that were quick hitting or with some movement in the first half that Tyler just blew up with the pressure on the basketball. I thought there were, again, six or eight ball screens that we set for our point guards in the first half that Tyler didn’t even allow us to get to the screen, didn’t even allow us to get that rub which would lead to the next action,” White said.
“When he’s picking you off at halfcourt and using that and sitting in that stance and using his quickness he’s got, and he’s got the ability to do that. So I think it started with him and on the interior, they took a big charge early (by Marcus Lee).”
While Tennessee and other teams that beat Kentucky have got inside often to score, White said UK’s “length and bounce” inside kept the lane “clogged” for the Gators.
“There weren’t a lot of places for us to go when we put our head down and drove it. And I thought they did a really good job, as well, of stunning and recovering on the perimeter when our guy did get by them, they knew where our shooters were,” White said.
“I thought they did a really good job on KeVaughn Allen, but especially on our quick guys. Our speed guys, Chris (Chiozza) and Kasey (Hill), it wasn’t their best day, and Kentucky’s defense had a ton to do with that.”
And get this. Kentucky’s physicality “surprised” him in a positive way for UK, something that has not happened often this year.
“I hadn’t seen these guys in person, and there was more girth that I thought. They were really physical, and I thought that we might have, at least certain plays, we might have some success inside or some success on the offensive glass or even driving it in there, at times at least,” White said.
“Not that they were weak on the interior. But I was surprised with how strong they were. Even Skal (Labissiere), he’s so long when you see him in person. He’s such an athlete. When you see him on TV, he looks thinner than that. And I thought (Isaac) Humphries did a good job too, just throwing his body around. Those guys on the interior were very good.”
Guys on the interior were good? Try to remember the last time an opposing coach, or even Calipari, has said that about UK’s bigs this year. Plus, White said that even though Alex Poythress didn’t play because of a knee injury.
White knew Kentucky had lost two straight games and had blown a 21-point lead in the loss to Tennessee Tuesday.
“They were so good against Tennessee early, and I could see that we just saw that for 40 minutes. And again, I think we had something to do with that,” White said.
But remember Florida beat West Virginia a week ago and barely lost at Texas A&M.
“They were really, really good. But they’re really capable. And if you let a guy like Jamal Murray really get going early and he’s got his mojo going, and Ulis is playing like he did today, they’re capable of beating anyone in college basketball,” White said.