Inside the play: Kentucky’s pick and roll
This set was not flawlessly executed by Kentucky but it ended in a bucket for the Wildcat and I saw some interesting things in the play that made it work in the end. It was designed to take advantage of the playmaking guards of Kentucky as well as the poor pick and roll defense of Mississippi State.
The play starts with a Josh Harrellson ball screen for Doron Lamb on the left side of the court. With Renardo Sidney being such a poor ball screen defender, Kentucky was looking to exploit him on this play, as they were hoping to get Lamb open in the paint or Harrellson rolling to the basket. Sidney does not play bad defense in this instance, as he gets to the elbow and his wide body cuts off any driving lane for Lamb.
Harrellson was actually open on the roll but Darius Miller clogs up the paint by cutting through right as Lamb is getting ready to drive, which also takes away his passing lane. This takes away any chance of Lamb creating anything, as Miller takes away all the space for Lamb to make a play.
As I said, this play was not executed perfectly but it showed Kentucky going right into its second option, a similar ball screen on the opposite side of the court with Brandon Knight and Terrence Jones after the initial ball screen was defended.
Knight made the original wing pass to Lamb at the start of the play and cut through the lane. If you focus on him in the clip, you see him go right into running baseline to use Jones’ screen to get open on the right wing (as shown with the green arrow in the first picture). This sets him up perfectly to use Jones’ second screen (the ballscreen) and create on the opposite wing as the play started.
With Lamb coming off the ball screen, the help defender, Kodi Augustus (#24) must stay in the paint to be in help position off a possible drive. This allows Jones to screen Knight’s man, as the defender has no other option but to trail the screen. This threat of a drive does two things – it allows Jones to get Knight open off the screen and puts Augustus in a bad position to hedge on the ball screen.
Since Jones and Knight go right into the ball screen, Augustus has no time to get up to the screen to hedge on Knight. Bost trails the screen again and Knight recognizes it and pulls up for the elbow jumper.
This is a smart shot since Bost is trailing the screen and Augustus has not stepped up to hedge. If he drives to drive, he will be defended by Augustus and he is open on the elbow since Bost choose to go over top of the screen and trail Knight. Good recognition by Knight on this play.
Kentucky showed no hesitation after the initial ball screen did not develop and they continued right into their second ball screen. Great composure by a young team to complete a play that started poorly and have it end in a bucket.