Cleveland State's improving defense will be tested this week with three-games against No. 5 Kentucky (tonight, 4:30 p.m.), either Stanford, or Virginia tomorrow (pending the outcome of tonight's CSU-Kentucky game), and Wichita State, who are coming to the Wolstein Center on Saturday (2 p.m.).
Through the first-two games of the season, CSU's defense were allowing teams to score 73 points per game and shooting 58.8 percent from the field. In the last two games, CSU's defense has regrouped holding Florida A & M to 64 points and 32.8 percent from the field, and Sam Houston State to 65 points and 40 percent from the field.
"We want to get better each and every day. This was a good stretch for us to get better everyday and we could see the progress from game to game. I think the numbers show our defense is improving," CSU junior guard Norris Cole said after the Sam Houston State game.
CSU head coach Gary Waters has made one change to the defense, picking when to press rather then pressing the entire game. Waters made the move so his players can concentrate on defending in the half-court. "I wanted to work on one phrase and get it right, that's in the half-court. We are still not there yet. I don't think we are halfway there yet," Waters said after the Florida A & M game.
Kentucky (4-0) is averaging 85.3 points per game and is shooting 52.8 percent from the field. Stanford (2-2) is averaging 78.5 points and is shooting 44.8 percent from the field. Virginia (3-1) is averaging 72.3 points and is shooting 47.4 percent from the field. And Wichita State (2-1) is averaging 71.3 points and is shooting 43.9 percent from the field.
John Calipari's Wildcats have had two scares against mid-major programs this season. The Wildcats survived a scare against Miami (Oh.), winning 72-70 on John Wall's game-winner at the buzzer, and they won a 102-92 shootout against Sam Houston State.
"Kentucky will be a tough game for us because they are very athletic and they have size. I think they have had their few shake ups and they're now ready to play," said Waters. "The thing that surprises me about Kentucky is that I didn't know they shoot the ball that well. They really shoot the basketball. They shoot the 3. And they have a lot of freshmen."
The Wildcats had the No.1 recruiting class in 2009 by all three major recruiting services: Rivals.com, Scout.com, and ESPN.com.
Calipari's Fab Five freshmen class features: Wall (20.3 points, 7.3 assists and 4 rebounds), a 6-4 point guard; 6-11 forward DeMarcus Cousins (15.5 points, and 9.5 rebounds); 6-1 guard Eric Bledsoe (14 points and 3.5 assists); 6-7 guard Darnell Dodson (12.5 points and 2.5 rebounds); and 6-10 forward Daniel Orton (6 points and 3.8 rebounds).
The Wildcats also return Patrick Patterson, a 6-9 junior forward who averages 19 points and 12.3 rebounds.
News and Notes:
CBS College Sports will televise live tonight's CSU-Kentucky game and tomorrow's game against Stanford or Virginia.... All Cleveland area Winking Lizard's will show tonight's CSU-Kentucky game on their TVs.... On Saturday, CSU will raise a 2008-09 Horizon League championship game banner before the Wichita State game. Every fan in attendance Saturday receives a voucher for a ticket to a future game.... SportsTime Ohio will also televise Saturday's Wichita State game.... Former Cleveland State point guard Cedric Jackson had an impressive NBA D-League exhibition debut with the Erie BayHawks, finishing with 12 points, seven assists and three steals in 30 minutes. Jackson went 4-for-9 from the field, 2-for-5 from 3-point distance and 2-for-2 from the free throw line.... J'Nathan Bullock has been waived by the NBA D-League's Albuquerque Thunderbirds.... CSU senior guard Kailey Klein is 288 points away from breaking CSU's all-time women's career scoring record, which is held by Dianne Foster (1979-84) with 1,851.