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BTI’s Rants and Ramblings: This Team Is More Pitino than Calipari (in style of play only of course)

De'Aaron Fox UCLA

I wrote in the fall warning fans to be very cautious when it came to expectations for this year’s UK basketball team because a lot of hype was being made about how much “fun” this team would be and how up-tempo the pace would be for these quick guards and versatile big mean for the Cats.  Despite that hype, Calipari’s team have actually not traditionally be the most up-tempo of teams, instead choosing to dominate on the defensive end of the floor and control the game in the half-court.  John Wall’s team was the exception but Wall was also an exceptional point guard with speed we hadn’t seen matched until Fox rolled into Lexington.  Well, maybe for the first time (wink wink), I was wrong.  This team has been a blast and in my time watching UK might be the best offensive team I can remember.  They don’t shoot the ball exceptionally well but have a couple guys individually who do.  You name the attribute and UK has 2-3 guys who are elite in that category. 

But just how elite offensively can this team be?  I used 2 parameters to try and answer that question.  The first is number of times over the course of a season the team scored 90 points.  I only used since 1990 (Rick Pitino’s first season) because frankly the college game just wasn’t the same before the shot clock and Eddie Sutton wasn’t Mr. Offense.  Anyway, as you will the Rick Pitino years dominate the top of these standings, with Calipari years actually showing more at the bottom than the top.

Scored Over 90 Points
16 times: 1996
15 times: 1994
13 times: 1990, 1995
12 times: 1992, 1997
11 times: 1993
10 times: 2001
9 times: 2010
8 times: 1999
7 times: 1991, 2002, 2017
6 times: 2009
5 times: 1998, 2003
4 times: 2004, 2013
3 times: 2005, 2011, 2014, 2015
2 times: 2012, 2016
1 time: 2007, 2008
0 times: 2000, 2006

During Pitino’s tenure, UK scored over 90 points in a game a total of 99 times.  That was over 8 seasons.  In Calipari’s first 7 seasons, his teams did it just 26 times.  Tubby’s teams did it 43 times in 10 seasons.  This means that Tubby’s teams actually, on average, scored over 90 points in a game more times over the course of a season that Cal’s teams do.  The issue with Tubby, as you will see below, is his teams would also have horrendous offensive games, dropping their season average.  Nonetheless, Calipari’s teams haven’t scored over 90 that often outside of the John Wall team.  That is until this team.  Through just 10 games, they have already done it 7 times.  That pace will certainly slow down once they get into conference, but they need just 10 more games over 90 points, out of a likely 25-30 more games, to break the UK shot clock era record of 16 in a season. 

Now what about sustained excellence over a season, or points per game?  Below is each team since 1990:

Points Per Game
2017: 94.4 ppg (Calipari)
1996: 91.4 ppg (Pitino)
1990: 88.8 ppg (Pitino)
1993: 87.5 ppg (Pitino)
1995: 87.4 ppg (Pitino)
1994: 86.9 ppg (Pitino)
1991: 85.9 ppg (Pitino)
1992: 85.7 ppg (Pitino)
1997: 83.1 ppg (Pitino)
1998: 80.1 ppg (Smith)
2001: 79.8 ppg (Smith)
2016: 79.5 ppg (Calipari)
2010: 79.3 ppg (Calipari)
2012: 77.4 ppg (Calipari)
2003: 77.3 ppg (Smith)
2002: 76.9 ppg (Smith)
1999: 75.4 ppg (Smith)
2011: 74.9 ppg (Calipari)
2014: 74.8 ppg (Calipari)
2015: 74.4 ppg (Calipari)
2009: 74.1 ppg (Gillispie)
2004: 73.9 ppg (Smith)
2005: 73.6 ppg (Smith)
2007: 73.4 ppg (Smith)
2013: 72.6 ppg (Calipari)
2006: 70.8 ppg (Smith)
2000: 69.1 ppg (Smith)
2008: 68.5 ppg (Gillispie)

Check that out.  Calipari’s best scoring team before this team ranked just 11th on this list, behind Pitino’s 8 teams and 2 of Tubby’s.  But this team currently sits at the top, 3 points per game more than the next closest competitor, the 1996 national champion team.  Again, that average will surely drop some over the course of conference play but lets not act like the SEC won’t provide many opportunities to run up the score.  I don’t see that average dropping significantly over the next 4 months.

But the question is will this team finish #1 in either/both of these categories?

Article written by Bryan the Intern

4 Comments for BTI’s Rants and Ramblings: This Team Is More Pitino than Calipari (in style of play only of course)



  1. Bluegrass79
    8:34 am December 12, 2016 Permalink

    If Coach Cal knows about these records then he will try and break them. The crazy thing is the 3 ball isn’t falling and we still average over 90. UCLA gets 10 threes a game to reach 90 and Ky does it on 6.



  2. runningunnin.454
    8:56 am December 12, 2016 Permalink

    UCLA hit 10 3’s against Michigan; Michigan hit 14 and stil lost by 18. Still think a strong inside game is necessary for a successful tournament run.



    • ukjaybrat
      9:30 am December 12, 2016 Permalink

      exactly, it’s hard to rely on the 3 ball six games in a row. but when you can pound the ball in the paint at will, it’s going to be hard to stop this team. bam has to continue to get better and be able to play at a high level by the end of the year while staying out of foul trouble or it could be a short run.



  3. SoCalCat
    9:44 am December 12, 2016 Permalink

    I think that this year’s team athleticism has even been intoxicating to Cal, who watched his team last year struggle to score unless Murray was hot. It will be interesting to see if Cal implements a rotation like he has alluded to on a couple of occasions. I actually think that will hurt the scoring but help the team play a fresher leg defense that Cal wants.