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How bad is Kentucky’s slump? Check the numbers

Original photo by UK Athletics | Illustration by KSR

Original photo by UK Athletics | Illustration by KSR

Original photo by UK Athletics | Illustration by KSR

There’s no denying that over the past two weeks, Kentucky has regressed. The last time the Cats played well was probably the 16-point win over South Carolina back on January 21. Since then, Kentucky’s lost three out of five, and although two of those losses came to ranked opponents (at the time, #2 Kansas, #24 Florida), the Cats haven’t even looked good in their wins. What was supposed to be an easy reboot and rout vs. a bad LSU team turned into an alarming 7-point win. Have you heard of moral victories? If there’s such a thing as a moral loss, Kentucky took one last night.

So, what’s happened in the five games since the South Carolina win? I spent some time looking at the numbers this afternoon to find out. Here’s a chart comparing Kentucky’s season averages through the South Carolina game to the averages from the past five games:


That’s a pretty drastic change, right? To nerd out even further with game-by-game breakdowns, click on the charts below:

Now, let’s break down the most offensive of those stats.

Scoring Margin: -23.6 points

Kentucky’s scoring has dropped 13.6% in the past five games, but not only are they not scoring as much, they’re not defending as well either. De’Aaron Fox being hampered by a sore ankle and having to miss a game with the flu contributed to the scoring drop, but everyone on the team’s been erratic in the past five games. After scoring 37 vs. Georgia, Malik Monk only chipped in 11 vs. Florida, while Isaiah Briscoe only scored six. Bam Adebayo had a season high 21 points vs. Tennessee, but hasn’t scored more than twelve in a game since. What’s the deal? After the Tennessee game, Calipari demanded his guards get Bam the ball, but not only have Bam’s numbers dipped dramatically, Kentucky’s offense is now way out of whack. Centering the offense around Bam is clearly still a work in progress, and right now, you have to wonder if it’s still really worth it.

Opponent’s 3-point percentage: +13.3%

Last night, LSU made ten threes, three late in the game to cut Kentucky’s lead to six in the final seconds. Young teams are prone to defensive breakdowns, but man, this group tends to fall apart when the going gets tough.


Opponent’s 2nd-half scoring: 50.8 points

This isn’t on my chart, but it’s a disturbing trend nonetheless: in the past five games, Kentucky is allowing its opponents to score an average of 51 second half points. On the flip side, Kentucky’s only scoring 44.6 second-half points, so, as the game goes on, this team’s defensive issues are too much for the offense to make up for, AKA, they get tired (or lazy) and slip back into bad habits. Defensive consistency is a struggle for young teams, but more than ever in the Calipari era, we’re just seeing them give up as the game goes on.

Assists and turnovers: -5 assists, + 3 turnovers

Before the South Carolina game, Kentucky had a healthy 1.8 assist-to-turnover ratio, which has since dwindled to 1.4. In the past five games, Kentucky’s dishing out five fewer assists per game and committing three more turnovers. Not good. Again, the more you look at the stats, the more you see that the issues right now are because of guard play. Yes, some of that may be due to De’Aaron’s injury and illness, but with two other capable starting guards, there shouldn’t be this much a of a drop-off.

Smiles while Kentucky is losing: +1

Just kidding.

Article written by Mrs. Tyler Thompson

No, I will not make you a sandwich, but you can follow me on Twitter @MrsTylerKSR or email me.

15 Comments for How bad is Kentucky’s slump? Check the numbers

    9:42 pm February 8, 2017 Permalink

    “DEFENSE, we don’t need to play no stinking DEFENSE!”

  2. Woods
    10:05 pm February 8, 2017 Permalink

    Assists and turnovers are real problems too

  3. Ky_Tom
    11:13 pm February 8, 2017 Permalink

    UK has a starter, who has played 77 minutes in the last 2 games, and not 1 rebound in those 77 minutes…is it time to sit Him down for a game…or at least a 1\2 of game…..Mr Monk is the guy not doing His share of the work on the floor to help this team win…

    • Booby Petrino
      8:19 am February 9, 2017 Permalink

      It’s ridiculous to say he is “the guy” not doing his share. He is one of a few guys not doing their share in numerous categories. Rebounding is not our main weakness, so you can’t blame Monk for where we are as a team.

    • WatchutalkinboutWillis
      10:28 am February 9, 2017 Permalink

      Monk isn’t just weak in rebounding. He is weak in defense. It isn’t a matter of what is fair, it is a matter of results. If starting Jonny David and Brad Calipari got the message across and changed our season for the better I’d say do it!

  4. kentuck1
    11:23 pm February 8, 2017 Permalink

    Great analysis! I think the reason they are being out-scored in the second half is that they are rebelling against authority. They like to play fast. So, first half, try to get a lead. Second half, run and gun and have fun. Don’t worry about defense. Just a theory. I haven’t completed my study yet.

  5. syrin
    11:25 pm February 8, 2017 Permalink

    So the question is what happened?

    • unbridled
      12:29 am February 9, 2017 Permalink

      They are playing better teams and the recipe for success against them is out.

    • syrin
      12:50 am February 9, 2017 Permalink

      We played good teams earlier in the year too. We have clearly regressed, and I’m not sure why. I don’t Fox has been the same defender since he fouled out about a month ago. Maybe he is afraid of getting into foul trouble. Briscoe is missing layups he used to make. Monk takes more bad shots than he used to. WIllis has lost his confidence on offense, I think because he is worried about defense. I’ve never been impressed with Bam. Looks like Dwight Howard, rebounds like Steph Curry.

  6. Rick_S
    1:20 am February 9, 2017 Permalink

    Cal has to be smart enough to know running the offense through bam is killing the flow slowing us down too much.I think this is what’s wrong with them team.Bam needs to play defense, rebound and get garbage points…He’s not that much better than any of the centers we’re playing now..He not as good as some.Its also hurting bam’s draft stock..And why have the coaches not taught him a one step jump hook?.I hear Cal telling him to dunk everything..that hurts his game..he needs a go to shot..the jump hook over his left shoulder

    • Angelo
      1:31 am February 9, 2017 Permalink

      I agree. Feeding the ball to Bam has wrecked us. Cal was trying to keep Bam in the first round of the draft and it backfired.

  7. Le Docteur
    7:47 am February 9, 2017 Permalink

    Great analysis. Especially the second half break down. Defense is about a passionate commitment to doing something that is very physically demanding and does not usually put stats on the sheet. But if you make that passionate commitment at UK, you win games and win the passionate support of UK’s fans, forever. Like Liggins did.

  8. TBW3011
    8:58 am February 9, 2017 Permalink

    If basketball doesn’t work out, this team has multiple guys who can be elite level matadors.