After Kentucky’s loss on Saturday afternoon to Missouri, fans were ready to bring out their torches and pitchforks. The Cats managed to take two steps forward against West Virginia, then found a way to grind out a victory in overtime against Vanderbilt, but reverted right back to their old poor habits on the road against the Tigers.
Kentucky is still ranked in the top-25 and the entire college basketball field is down, but for some, this doesn’t feel like a team capable of making a deep run in March. The team’s lack of a consistent go-to scorer, trouble in the passing department, and poor shooting from beyond the arc are all reasonable areas of concern.
When you stack up the season as a whole compared to past Calipari-coached Kentucky teams, however, the numbers may surprise you.
UK media relations contact Deb Moore posted this graphic on Twitter with the caption “#perspective,” with all major statistical categories from each year Coach Cal has been in Lexington.
Three teams had a record of 17-6 through 23 games, and five had at least five losses. Two of those teams made it to the Final Four, and three of them made it to at least the Elite Eight. The only teams to not reach the second weekend dealt with a freak injury (Nerlens Noel) and a freak NCAA tournament matchup (Indiana in the Round of 32).
Kentucky is currently tied for 182nd in the nation in total assists, yet the 2010-11, 2011-12, and 2013-14 teams all had fewer assists through 23 games. Each of those teams made it to the Final Four, two went to the title game, and one took home the trophy,
We worry about UK’s struggle in from beyond the arc, but they have shot it better from three than the 2013-14 and 2015-16 squads, and a higher overall field goal percentage than the 2010-11 team.
In fact, the current Wildcat roster has managed a higher field goal percentage, more rebounds, and higher total points per game than the 2014-15 (near) perfect Final Four team.
The assist-to-turnover margin is a bit worrisome, as no other Kentucky team has been negative in this category, and only the 2009-10 team managed more total turnovers than this team has with just nine games remaining in the season.
Still though, it may be frustrating to watch at times, but the sky is not falling, and there’s time for Calipari to right the ship.
Let’s start by destroying Tennessee tomorrow night.