Playmakers: Kentucky in transition

February, 10, 2012
2/10/12
1:30
PM ET
Earlier this week, the No. 1 Wildcats toyed with a Gators squad that might be the second-best team in the SEC. It was the kind of performance that suggested the gap between Kentucky and the rest of the league -- perhaps the rest of the country -- is wider than many realized.

[+] EnlargeAnthony Davis
AP Photo/James CrispWhen the pace of the game picks up, Anthony Davis and Kentucky can be fun to watch.
There are so many challenges for teams facing the Wildcats. Go inside and your team runs into the best defensive player in the country. In the half-court set, teams get picked apart by a multitude of one-on-one creators.

One team, Indiana, found a way to crack the Kentucky Code.

Will Vanderbilt become No. 2 in Nashville on Saturday?

In college basketball, anything is possible. But Vanderbilt is similar to the Gators in that the Commodores will spread the floor and rely heavily on their key big man, Festus Ezeli.

To beat Kentucky, they’ll have to play a complete game and excel in multiple areas, especially transition defense.

Kentucky's transition game has baffled every team it’s faced. On the run, the Wildcats seem unstoppable. The Wildcats outscored Florida 16-6 on fast breaks Tuesday.

If the Commodores don’t get back on D, they’re doomed. A split-second defensive lapse and the Wildcats will find their way to the other end of the floor for an easy bucket.

Check out this sequence from their lopsided victory over the Gators (1:02 in the video) as proof:

After a Florida turnover, Anthony Davis secures the ball and illustrates one of the major problems for Kentucky’s opponents. The 6-foot-11 big man, a former high school shooting guard, is comfortable as a ballhandler.

This is why the Wildcats are so dangerous in transition. Davis demands attention in the open floor. The Gators seem confused. They’re watching like the rest of us.

Davis throws the bounce pass to Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. And now a Florida team with two guys back is in major trouble.

Kidd-Gilchrist has options in a 3-on-2 situation. Doron Lamb to his right, Davis on his left. It’s an impossible predicament for the Gators, who just didn’t make the offense-to-defense switch quickly enough on this play.

Kidd-Gilchrist decides to make a play on his own. He splits two defenders and sails to the rim for a layup. Check out Davis’ position on the drive. If that ball comes off the rim, he’s going to get it and dunk it.

Such a complete team. But the Wildcats are at their best when they’re racing up the court. That’s one of the many weapons that Vandy will have to stop Saturday. Tough task ahead.

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