As It Turns Out, Kentucky Can Really Play Defense

Because they have so many great pro prospects, we tend to think of Kentucky as an offensive team. When we hear the name "Kentucky," we think of John Wall's passing, Eric Bledsoe's speed, Patrick Patterson's efficiency, Darius Miller's shooting and DeMarcus Cousins' diverse post game. 

But Kentucky is also a consistent defensive juggernaut, even against some really good offensive teams. The Wildcats are fifth in the nation in defensive efficiency according to KenPom.com, and they looked it last night in holding down a Cornell team that had dismantled two outstanding defensive clubs in the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament.

Seriously, don't be fooled: Cornell has been an offensive machine recently. Here's what SB Nation's Matt O'Brien said about the Big Red coming into the game.

And that's the scary part: Temple and Wisconsin ranked fifth and twentieth, respectively, in adjusted defensive efficiency. Accounting for their that fact, Cornell had an adjusted offensive efficiency of 158.6 points per 100 possessions through the first two rounds. To give you an idea of how absurd that is, the gap between Cornell and the second-best team (Kentucky) was larger than the difference between the second and eleventh teams.  

And despite all that, Kentucky held them to 45 points and made it impossible to run their half-court offense. As SB Nation's Kentucky blog A Sea of Blue writes:

What a defensive effort!  I have rarely seen a basketball team so committed to staying home on shooters, making good switches and shows, blocking shots, and simply making it almost impossible for the opponent to score.  This was by far the Wildcat's best defensive effort, no matter what the statistics say.    

If the Wildcats continue to defend on this level (and they have the entire season), it's hard to see any team stopping them.

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