Bruce Pearl knows a thing or two about teams coached by John Calipari.
The Auburn coach, who spent many years heading up the Tennessee program, has seen his share of Kentucky as an opposing coach. So, when he speaks on what he sees from the Wildcats, most people are willing to listen.
On Wednesday, Pearl joined The Dan Patrick Show to discuss the NCAA Tournament. The topic of Kentucky came up, and the outspoken coach didn’t hold back in his analysis– he’s concerned for the Wildcats in their upcoming Sweet 16 matchup with UCLA.
“The good news for Kentucky is they’re defending better than they’ve been defending,” Pearl said. “And that’s always been the key to John Calipari’s teams in the sense that he’s going to have incredible talent, they’re going to play very unselfishly, they’re going to play fast so you have to be really good in transition defense.
“Fox is incredible pushing the break. Bam Adebayo is a freak athlete. Monk being as inconsistent as he’s been from the perimeter is a real concern, but the one thing that John Calipari has them doing now that they haven’t done all season long is defend. And if they don’t do a better job of defending UCLA, UCLA is going to put 100 on them and run away from them.”
That seems insulting on the surface, but Kentucky did allow 97 points to the Bruins during a December meeting at Rupp Arena.
Pearl did go on to say that Kentucky has been playing better defense of late, including the grind-it-out effort that was required to beat Wichita State in the Round of 32. Of course, he also pointed out that Lonzo Ball didn’t have his best game against the Wildcats the first time around, and UCLA still won. He cautioned that Kentucky can’t expect Ball to have a second poor game against them in the same season.
Pearl also offered a unique take on Ball’s father, LaVar, who made some headlines on Tuesday for his comments about Kentucky. You can hear that take below:
Bruce Pearl defends LaVar Ball https://t.co/hhGPKk9nw4
— Dan Patrick Show (@dpshow) March 22, 2017