“Straight Up” struggling: Just how bad is UK basketball?


UK head coach John Calipari shakes his head in disbelief during the game against Tennessee on Tuesday, February 6, 2018 in Lexington, Ky. Tennessee defeated Kentucky 61-59. Photo by Hunter Mitchell.

After UK’s 10-point loss to No. 10 Auburn on Wednesday, the Cats have now lost four straight for the first time in the John Calipari era. Previous coaches Adolph Rupp and Tubby Smith never lost four straight games as head coach of UK. How bad is the situation for the Cats, really?

Recap: UK unable to complete upset at Auburn

Well, they’re now under .500 in conference play, something the program can’t say a lot. The last time they lost more games than they’ve won in the SEC at least 13 games into the conference schedule was during the 1988-1989 season. The Cats finished that season 13-19, which was the 221st-best record in the nation.

The last time UK was under .500 in conference play 13 games into the SEC schedule, “Straight Up” by Paula Abdul was the #1 song on the Billboard Hot 100. And right now, the Cats are straight up struggling.

In their last four games, UK is averaging 64.75 points per game. If that were the Cats’ season statistic, they’d be 322nd in the nation in scoring, out of 351 teams in Division I basketball.

They’ve also lost the last two games by double digits, the first time the Cats have lost two straight by at least 10 since March of 2013, as the Cats were gearing up for the conference tournament before heading to the NIT. That team finished 12-6 in conference play, good for second in the SEC.

UK’s next opponents don’t get much easier, either. The Cats already have one loss to two schools they’ll be playing in the final five games (Missouri and Florida), and haven’t yet faced the other three schools (Alabama, Arkansas, Ole Miss). Of those final five teams, only one has a losing record in the conference (Ole Miss).

It goes without saying that this is one of the toughest stretches the Cats have faced not only with John Calipari as their head coach, but in the last few decades. For the first time since 2013, it’s uncertain if the Cats will make the NCAA Tournament.

If they can’t turn it around, they could write their names down in the history books as college basketball’s great failed experiment: Could the youngest team in the history of college basketball have a great season? Right now, the results aren’t looking extremely promising.