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From the Pressbox: Pre-Texas A&M notes

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On A&M's defense

If you look only at points per game, Texas A&M ranks as one of the SEC's better defensive teams. But when the metric is points-per-possession, the Aggies are in a three-way tie for 11th  with Vanderbilt and Arkansas, giving up just under one point per possession (0.96).  

Kentucky, by the way, is tied for second with Ole Miss at 0.86, just two-hundredths or a point behind league leader Florida. Those three teams also rank in the league's top five in offense on the PPP scale, with the Gators ranking first in that category, too.

Texas A&M trivia

Today's interesting trivia note...

Kentucky was 64-10 all-time in the University of Kentucky Invitational Tournament (1953-89) with only three of those losses coming on the tourney's first night.

One of those losses was inflicted by Texas A&M, in the most recent meeting between these two programs. It was December 1978 when A&M scored a 73-69 victory.

Cats need more out of inside game

"A work in progress" is how coach Calipari often refers to this Kentucky team. It was the same way two years ago, when it was sometime in February before the Wildcats found their best way to play.

UK radio network analyst Mike Pratt says a consistent low-post game would be a big help.

"I think you say 'we've got a slasher in Archie (Goodwin) and we've got a couple of shooters - if they're on - in Wiltjer and Mays. The missing piece is that balance of inside-out. Most teams aren't capable of having that but I think Kentucky is capable, if you can get some back-to-the-basket or 8-to-10-footers out of the big guys. Then, you really put the pressure on the defense," Pratt observed on "The Leach Report" radio show.  

"Somewhere down the line, for this team to reach its full potential, whatever that may be, they're going to have to develop some in-the-paint offense, where you can score without (relying on) put-backs."

Pratt on Cauley-Stein's free throws

Pratt gives kudos to Willie Cauley-Stein for the extra work he's been doing in practice to improve his free-throw shooting. But when it comes to correcting mechanical flaws in a shot, that is hard to accomplish within a season.

"I think you can help it, you can make people a little bit better, but to become a great foul shooter, you're going to have to work on your whole form. You find a rhythm, a way you shoot the ball. All those things you learn from repetition, so you don't think about it.  That's a project. Willie can gain some confidence but can he become a 70-percent shooter (without offseason work),  no," Pratt said.  "They tried to change the structure on Wilt Chamberlain's free throws and it never worked. They say it became a psychological thing."

Brando says UK needs confident Mays

Earlier this week, you read here about the praise heaped on Ryan Harrow by Tim Brando of CBS.

Brando cited the growing confidence of Harrow and he said that's what Kentucky needs to see from Julius Mays, too.

"I think he's a guy that can help them but he's got to be confident to take that shot when it's there," Brando said.

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