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A few of the things left to prove for Kentucky


Kentucky has slowly but surely been checking things off of a list that at one point seemed a mile long. What list? The list of questions that were still left unanswered, as well as things Kentucky still needed to prove before being considered a legitimate national championship contender. Once the pre-season magic wore off a bit, and reality began to set in, the list started to grow. The young Kentucky Wildcats weren’t quite what everyone expected and left many wondering IF and how long it might take for them to get there. The puzzle is still far from complete, but Kentucky has been consistently answering more questions in the recent stretch of games, and has shown signs of growth and development that have put them far ahead of where they were two months ago. While the check marks are growing and some questions fade to the background, Kentucky still has some important things left to prove.

1. Kentucky has to prove it can win on the road 

One of the biggest things left for Kentucky to do is prove that it can win on the road. Kentucky’s only true road win was at Vanderbilt. Kentucky failed to come away from North Carolina or Arkansas with a win– which are the only other two true road games so far. As Arkansas proved, beating teams on the road is a whole different beast than beating them on a neutral floor or in Rupp Arena. Tom Leach made the point in his KSR article on Sunday that had Kentucky played Arkansas at home, Kentucky probably would have won that game. If Kentucky had played Tennessee on the road, Kentucky probably would have lost that game. The results had more to do with the location than Kentucky playing particularly better in one game or the other. Luckily Kentucky will have plenty of opportunities to prove it can win on the road in the SEC.

2. How good can Kentucky be if/when EVERYONE is playing well at the same time?

It’s probably unrealistic to expect for every player on Kentucky’s roster to have a brilliant game on the same night. At the same time, it would be nice to go for a stretch of games where no single player was in a slump. For a while, it was Andrew Harrison and even Julius Randle. The last few games it has been Willie Cauley-Stein. We still have yet to see what Kentucky looks like during a stretch of games when one of the key players in the rotation isn’t going through a slump. Whenever that happens, we might have a better indication of just how good this Kentucky team can be when everyone is clicking.

3.  Three point-shooting… can we make them and can we refrain from taking so many of them?

Kentucky isn’t going to magically become a lights out 3-point shooting team. That’s unrealistic and Brandon Knight and Doron Lamb are not walking through that door. Aaron Harrison and James Young are serviceable three point shooting threats. One could throw in Jarrod Polson and Andrew Harrison on occasion as well. With that said, Aaron Harrison and Young have been streaky and inconsistent at times. Though both have a green light it seems, Kentucky is not at its best when they are relying on the 3-point shot. Kentucky has had stretches during games where they’ve settled for the deep ball too early in possessions, or on too many consecutive possessions. Kentucky is still at its best when attacking the rim or going through Julius Randle and Alex Poythress.

4. Consistent free throw shooting

We aren’t going to shoot 23 of 24 every night, but if the core group of Andrew Harrison, Aaron Harrison, James Young, Julius Randle and Alex Poythress can all shoot at or above 75% on a consistent basis, I think Kentucky will be just fine. All of those guys are capable of doing so.

5. Keep climbing in defensive efficiency

Just like Brandon Knight and Doron Lamb aren’t walking through the door, neither are DeAndre Liggins or Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. Kentucky lacks a lockdown perimeter defender, and I’m not sure one will develop– at least not to the level of some of the guys in past seasons. Kentucky currently sits at 39th in Ken Pom’s Defensive Efficiency rating. As we’ve talked about before, the national champions from recent years have finished in the top 10 in both offensive and defensive efficiency rankings. Kentucky IS currently top 10 on the offensive side, but still has some work to do on the defensive side. It might be too much to ask for Kentucky to climb in the top 10 defensively, but if the Cats can inch closer throughout the rest of the season– that would be a huge plus.

Article written by Ally Tucker

I once successfully requested "The Wobble" to be played 6 times at one wedding.

39 Comments for A few of the things left to prove for Kentucky

  1. rick
    2:07 pm January 23, 2014 Permalink

    Keep shooting the three guys, don’t listen to these guys post.Stop shooting the three and the middle gets clogged up . Matt and most post on here are against the three, don’t listen to them, don’t hesitate when shooting if your open let it go.

  2. bluecat
    2:08 pm January 23, 2014 Permalink

    This team is going in the right direction overall. With each game you can see a little more improvement. I really think they are going to break through and win in these big road games coming up; at least one. Maybe losing a few games early was the best for this team. It took the pressure of being preseason #1 and the pressure of an undefeated season talk off their shoulders. These guys are flying below the radar right now, and may be for the best for this particular team, since it is so young.

  3. Michael F. Jox
    2:39 pm January 23, 2014 Permalink

    Totally agree. There hasn’t been too many 3’s shot this yr, besides a few that Young has thrown up, that didn’t look like a good shot to me. Not shooting open shots, regardless if it’s a 3 or not, can drastically effect an offense’s flow, and continues to allow your best low-post player to be doubled and tripled. Keep shooting those open 3s, guys!

    • Michael F. Jox
      2:40 pm January 23, 2014 Permalink

      oops – my comment was directed towards the first comment. forgot to hit reply 🙁

  4. cristoforouk
    2:43 pm January 23, 2014 Permalink

    Open, yes, but there is a reason they are open, and its not our incredible ball movement. The other teams want them to shoot as many 3s as possible. They know that is not our strength. I am all for taking the open shot, but considering defenses are giving us the open 3, those can be taken at any point in the shot clock. The problem is when Young and Harrison jack up a 3 five seconds into the shot clock. They can get that shot any time. Work for something better. That’s just being lazy jacking it up. If they can’t find something then take that open 3.

    • M
      3:17 pm January 23, 2014 Permalink

      Exactly. They’re playing a zone for a reason. To make us settle for 3’s. If UK has good ball movement, and stays active moving through the zone they’ll not only get better looks from 3, but also 2. Then if the shots aren’t falling they’ll have the ability to get some good looks inside. If the 3’s aren’t falling and you’re jacking them up early in the shot clock, the bigs aren’t going to have a lot of game rhythm. I don’t mind if they shoot 30 3’s if that’s the best shot that possession. However, it’s lazy to jack up a 3 early and plays right into the hands of the zone. Against WVU in the elite 8 they were jacking up 3’s early and often. I guess the interior wasn’t as clogged because of it?

  5. Real UK Fan
    2:53 pm January 23, 2014 Permalink

    While it is important to win on the road to get a better seed in the tournament, it is not all that important when you consider that there are no road games or home games for that matter when it comes tournament time. The road win thing is way over rated.

  6. Bunny
    3:03 pm January 23, 2014 Permalink

    Good post, Ally. Totally agree…

  7. B-Cat
    3:09 pm January 23, 2014 Permalink

    No team is currently top 10 in offensive and defensive efficiency. Syracuse is 9th offensively and 13th defensively. Arizona is 14th offensively and 3rd defensively. Pitt is 6th off and 15th def. Other teams that are high in one and decent in the other are UL, Iowa, Wichita St., Michigan St., Kansas, Ok St. Villanova, Florida and Kentucky. I think right now Arizona and Syracuse are the two favorites to win the title. Those other teams are all right there, I just don’t see Iowa or Wichita going the distance.

    • Bunny
      3:18 pm January 23, 2014 Permalink

      Good info. Thanks…

  8. UK Freshmen
    3:28 pm January 23, 2014 Permalink

    Hahaha. Fifteen of the eighteen games at home. What giant killers! Joke.

    • UK Freshmen
      3:34 pm January 23, 2014 Permalink

      Hahaha. I’m just playing, guys. I’m an idiot. My team sucks so I come here for attention.

    • UK Freshmen or UK Freshman? Do you like young freshmen students? Or are you a dumb troll impersonating a freshman but are too stupid to know it's freshman?
      3:54 pm January 23, 2014 Permalink

      UL just had a 2 game road streak otherwise they’d basically be in the same boat. It’s not uncommon. They played @ UK because UK played there last season. Good try tool.

  9. Jerk
    3:32 pm January 23, 2014 Permalink

    Every year we come up with a nick name for the cats, The Unforgettables, The Comeback Cats and last years team, The Under Achievers, this years team, maybe The kool- Aid Cats; because they have sure as hell drank it up. Preseason #1,greatest recruiting class sense the Fab Five, go through the motions and pick up the trophy, 40 and 0 or is 40 and uh-oh, we are in trouble. Did no one see how slow the Harrison twins were before they came to UK?They have been beaten off the dribble by every guard they have played against so far. Randall is so one dementional that he can be shut down by a simple zone. No three point shooter, except for the wiltcher clone, Derrick Willis , that never gets to play because he is slow on the defensive end, and he’s not going to be in the NBA draft this year. Cal only plays those he has promised NBA contracts, and a couple that he has to play if those get in foul trouble, (perfect example) up seventeen and starters still on the floor when the buzzer sounds.I really don’t like Calipari, he just acts like a topical politician, tells you what you want to here, then does what he wants to do…. Sleeze-ball, yea that’s the word I was looking for. Say what you want, Rick Pitino may have not got as much talent as Cal, but he cared more for the players, he never kick them out of the program to make room for the “elite players” as they are called. Just will be glad when this one and done era is over, it has ruined college basketball. Well you all can try and start your bull$hit attempt at trying to bully my comments, but you cannot prove its not ALL TRUE!!!

    • DH
      3:45 pm January 23, 2014 Permalink

      I really did try to read your comment, but it’s hard to read through all your mistakes. WTF is a “topical” politician? Greatest recruiting class “sense” the fab five? And you also said the Harrison twins have been “beaten off”. Tell you what you want to “here”… Your name is appropriate. Do you remember the Fab Five’s record when they were freshmen? 25-9. Not only are our freshmen ranked higher, they will at the very least have a comparable record to the fab five. Hmm, maybe they are the best recruiting class since the fab five. They are still freshmen, though. Not only have the Harrisons been beaten off the dribble by every guard they have played, they have also beaten every guard they have played off the dribble. EVERY guard gets beat off the dribble almost every game. Saying Randle is one dimensional shows your ignorance. I’ll believe you’re a UK fan when you learn to spell the players’ names.

  10. playersfan
    3:36 pm January 23, 2014 Permalink

    Arkansas is not why can’t KY play on the road, the real question is why can’t anybody play well at Arkansas, whereas Arkansas can’t play well any where else. That is a question that deserves some study. Do the Arkansas fans influence the referees that much, do the fans influence the players that much? I think it’s a question for the SEC. This is not an aberration, it is true every year, WHY.

  11. rick
    3:49 pm January 23, 2014 Permalink

    Once again keep shooting the threes, We have almost ruined Hawkins or someone has by asking him not to shoot when he was open, now he can;t hit a thing because he thinks about the shot to much. If your open shoot the three, please.

  12. Jerk
    3:49 pm January 23, 2014 Permalink


  13. Jerk
    4:00 pm January 23, 2014 Permalink

    Let me guess, the DH stands for dick head. And apparently you have not joined the 21st century where auto spell check changes words to what it thinks is right, dumba$$! You have just proven my point about dumba$$ , unknowledgable UK fans. So shut the hell up and stay in your moms basement, afraid to come out and confront someone, chicken sh!t moron, bet you are from louisville or even worse, Indiana. With that said, is that all you got? Dick head

    • DH
      4:13 pm January 23, 2014 Permalink

      Nice try dumbass. Spell check is not going to change the spelling of since to sense or typical to topical unless you have no clue how to spell them in the first place. Where did you expect me to confront you, idiot? I responded to your ignorant comment on the same message board you posted it on, tough guy

  14. RICK
    4:16 pm January 23, 2014 Permalink

    Ha Guys why can’t we all just get a long neck. I’LL take bud light.

  15. Jerk
    4:20 pm January 23, 2014 Permalink

    You still never answered the question DH, is Dick Head. And as far as spell check goes, you apparently do not have an apple device.. Dick Head. Did I hit a nerve when I said you where in you moms basement, I bet… I just bet you are even using her computer, being you have no modern spell check, moron… That all you got? Dick Head

  16. Jerk
    4:26 pm January 23, 2014 Permalink

    Besides DH, only nerds critique grammar, that proves your in your moms basement, nerd. Not writing a novel, just a statement there DH. Is that all you got there Dick Head?

    • papasnapp
      4:38 pm January 23, 2014 Permalink

      Huh? Do you have any idea what you are trying to say? Looks like you merely like to spew filth when somebody calls you out. You can reply if you like, but I have had my only say in the matter. Continue bashing…

  17. Jerk
    4:28 pm January 23, 2014 Permalink

    Where you go DH?

  18. Jerk
    4:32 pm January 23, 2014 Permalink

    He gone!

    • DH
      4:35 pm January 23, 2014 Permalink

      I’m at work. It’s called a job. Get one. What does jerk stand for? Is that what you do in a circle with all your little buddies?

  19. Jerk
    4:35 pm January 23, 2014 Permalink

    I hate being an a-hole, but when someone try’s to bully you over your opinion, that you have a perfectly good right to have, and state; it just piss’s me off.

  20. Jerk
    4:40 pm January 23, 2014 Permalink

    With that comment being so juvenile, you must be at where? Ahhhh McDonald’s or Hardee’s or what KFC, no I got it, the DQ, yea that’s it. That all you got there DH? By the way, you are never going to try and bully me out of my opinion there Dick Head

  21. Jerk
    4:43 pm January 23, 2014 Permalink

    We need a freakin moderator on here!

  22. Jerk
    4:44 pm January 23, 2014 Permalink

    Man I’m so bored!

  23. 502 CARD FAN IN YO FACE!
    4:50 pm January 23, 2014 Permalink


    Please learn how to spell. We use the English language every day, and it’s in front of you all the time. It shouldn’t be that hard.

    Educated People Everywhere

  24. Jerk
    4:58 pm January 23, 2014 Permalink

    Pappasnap, this is just an attempt to state my opinion. It started several comments before you opined. There are some people on here that think they can suppress your opinion by trying to bash you with there bully tactics for makeing a true statement. They want to have a war of wits, but most come unarmed. So if you want to waste your time, you can read the comments that were much earlier posted

  25. Jerk
    5:00 pm January 23, 2014 Permalink

    Ok , looks like 502 Tard wants to join in on the fun, have been through this already with the other Tard, so back up an read to save me the trouble from having to defeat you as we’ll. thank you for trying there moron

  26. Jerk
    5:01 pm January 23, 2014 Permalink

    Still bored!!

  27. Jerk
    5:04 pm January 23, 2014 Permalink

    What is this? Nerd day or something…

  28. Jerk
    5:07 pm January 23, 2014 Permalink

    Alright, I’m out of here. Clearly no competition!!thanks for “THA” fun there spell check nerds

  29. Dude
    8:54 pm January 23, 2014 Permalink

    Wow. You are a goddamn idiot. Good luck in life – you’re gonna need it!