Arkansas couldn't stop the Dillingham-Ivisic pick-and-roll down the stretch

On3 imageby:Zack Geoghegan03/02/24


In the final 6:47 of Kentucky’s 111-102 win over Arkansas on Saturday afternoon, Rob Dillingham did exactly what he’s been doing all year long: taking over games in clutch moments.

The freshman guard was unstoppable down the stretch against the Razorbacks. During that seven-minute span, with Kentucky initially trailing 88-81, Dillingham posted 11 points, four assists, one rebound, and one steal. The ‘Cats outscored Arkansas 30-14 the rest of the way, 19 of UK’s points coming by way of Dillingham scores or passes.

But there was one set in particular that proved to be Dillingham’s go-to. Six of those 11 points and three of those four assists came directly out of pick-and-roll action with 7-foot-2 big man Zvonomir Ivisic. The fourth assist also happened courtesy of a ballscreen with Ivisic, but with Justin Edwards serving as the recipient of the lob pass from Dillingham, who didn’t turn it over once out of that action, either.

It was, pretty simply, impossible for the Razorbacks to defend.

“He can shoot the ball, he can stretch the floor, so if I come off a screen, a big has to either switch, help, or guard Z,” Dillingham said postgame of Ivisic. “So it’s an easy option every time and then he’s rolling so they have to tag, if they don’t tag the corner is open. It’s just easy with him because he can do everything.”

It’s not an overly complicated set by any means, but it’s tough to defend when it features Dillingham and Ivisic. Dillingham has so many possible options (and is such a talented playmaker) out of it that Arkansas and head coach Eric Musselman didn’t have the time left in the game to figure it out.

And even if they did, how could they stop it? Ivisic is just as good of a shooter as anyone on Kentucky’s roster and might be the most underrated passer. Couple that with the best microwave scorer in all of college basketball who can also distribute at a high rate and you’ve got a borderline unguardable scenario when those two are working in harmony.

Dillingham, Ivisic, and the rest of Kentucky coaches and players knew Arkansas couldn’t slow it down, too.

“For sure. Definitely,” Dillingham said when asked if he knew Arkansas couldn’t stop the pick-and-rolls with Ivisic. “When we have it and they didn’t have a man on our help side, we just kept coming off the screen and they couldn’t really guard.”

Kentucky did just enough on defense in that final seven minutes to fend off Arkansas, but it was the deadly pick-and-roll duo of Dillingham and Ivisic that set the tone for how this one would end.

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