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Winthrop-Kentucky Preview

LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Coach John Calipari will have one thing in mind Wednesday afternoon when No. 10 Kentucky meets Winthrop at Rupp Arena - improved 3-point defense.

"You keep drilling it and talking about it," Calipari said Tuesday. "They're going to get it. You try to push it along, but they're going to get it on their terms. That's how this stuff goes."

Through the first four games, Kentucky (3-1) ranks No. 343 out of 351 teams nationally in 3-point defense. Opponents have made 43-of-99 long-range shots, good for 43.4 percent.

In Calipari's previous nine UK seasons combined, the defense is a stellar 31.1 percent. It's never been worse than 32.6 and the best mark was 27.1 percent.

On Sunday, VMI torched Kentucky for 19-of-38 from deep. But why?

"We had a couple breakdowns late," Calipari said. "We lose a 3-point, the kid in the corner, like total denial. Why would you leave him? Well, I had my hand up. Why did you leave him? Have you not watched the game? If you know for 10 years I've been here, we don't leave corners. This team leaves corners."

Winthrop (2-2) attempts 27 3-point shots per game and is making 38.3 percent, 51.5 overall.

"We're playing Winthrop," Calipari said. "And you may say, 'Winthrop?' Pat Kelsey has done a great job with this team. He's got seniors. He's got guards. They're shooting 30 threes a game. They play fast, they drive the ball, they space the court. It's going to show us where we are now compared to two weeks ago."

Winthrop, which scores 95.2 points per game, has five players averaging double figures, topped by Nych Smith at 19.3 points per game. Next comes Adam Pickett, 14.8; Josh Ferguson, 13.5; Keon Schumacher, 13.0; and Michael Anumba, 10.3.

The Eagles have beaten SIU-Edwardsville and Pfeiffer and lost to Vanderbilt and East Tennessee State.

Two of Kentucky's leading scorers are big men. Reid Travis is tops at 15.3 points per game and PJ Washington checks in at 13.8. Guard Keldon Johnson scores 14.8 followed by guards Immanuel Quickley, Quade Green and Tyler Herro at 9.8, 9.5 and 9.3 points, respectively.

The Wildcats average 85.8 points per game and are outrebounding opponents by an average count of 43 to 23. They lost to Duke to open the season, but have since beaten Southern Illinois, North Dakota and VMI.

"Let's see where we are a month from now," Calipari said. "This team should be a great defensive team, a great rebounding team, a great post-up team that can shoot 3s. That's what it should be, my vision of this team."

Updated November 21, 2018

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