"If we can come out and play defense like that every game, I think we'll be a very good team," Kentucky guard Jodie Meeks said. "Coach (Gillispie) always says he has a lot of confidence in our defense. We just need to buy in and continue to play defense the way we've been playing."
During Kentucky's 73-67 loss to Miami on Dec. 6, it was the team's defensive effort in the second half that prevented a potential blowout and gave the Cats a chance to win down the stretch.
"We gave up 46 points in the first half, but we still had a chance to beat Miami, because of our second-half defense," Gillispie said.
Gillispie admits that his team has given up its share of easy baskets, but likes the direction the Cats are headed.
"When we set up at half-court, I'm confident we will be one of the best defensive teams I've been around," he said.
Against the Hoosiers, Kentucky forced 20 turnovers, including 15 in the decisive first half. In addition, Indiana became the seventh team to shoot less than 37 percent from the field against the Wildcats this season. All 10 of Kentucky's opponents have shot less than 50 percent against the Cats, including top-ranked North Carolina.
Kentucky forward Patrick Patterson said defense is "where it all starts."
"We we're able to hold our opponents from scoring, that is going to key our offense and create more transition buckets," he said.
Patterson added that the team's emphasis on defense has led to the team's progression.
"We are playing better defense out there," he said.
It's starting to show.