UK has shown flashes to be the team fans want to see


Kentucky freshman guard Quade Green motions to a teammate during the game against Virginia Tech on Saturday, December 16, 2017 in Lexington, Kentucky. Kentucky won 93-86. Photo by Arden Barnes | Staff

Chris Leach

The 2017-2018 season has been a roller coaster for Kentucky basketball fans, largely due to the youth that this year’s team has.

The average age of this year’s team is 19.43 years old, and it’s because of this that the process of making this year’s team great has been a challenging one. Kentucky has a fair share of close wins and bad losses that have some fans worried of how the team will pan out in March.

Another thing that has fans worried, especially after the loss to Tennessee, is the fact that the SEC is better this year, and more losses could give UK a higher seed in the NCAA Tournament.

Even with the less than perfect start, the Cats have occasionally shown flashes of how good they can be from time to time, and those moments are backed up in recent stats.

In Kentucky’s most recent eight games before the loss to Tennessee, the Cats averaged 84.8 points per game after only averaging 71 in their first five games. Better shooting lead to the offensive uptick, as the Cats shot nearly 50 percent from the field during that eight-game stretch.

Some of John Calipari’s best teams have been efficient offensively, as he’s had four of his eight teams finish in the top ten in Ken Pomeroy’s offensive efficiency rankings. The best the Cats have ever finished was second, which took place during the 2012 national championship season.

Last year’s team was known for its offense, and it took them all the way to the Elite 8 before they ran into the eventual national champion. As the tea, practices more and becomes more familiar with one another, expect more positive results to come from UK offensively.

As for the other end of the floor, the Cats have made strides with their defense. Between UK’s losses to UCLA and Tennessee, the Cats held opponents to 64.3 points per game off a 39.6 field goal percentage.

The biggest area where the Cats really controlled opponents during that three game stretch was the three-point line, as opponents only made 15.7 percent of their three’s during that time. Of course, UK had lapses since that three game stretch, but Kentucky has shown they have the capability to use their length to disrupt opponents’ offense.

The biggest thing that has fans worried for March is that Kentucky hasn’t shown these talented flashes on a consistent basis. While that can be frustrating for fans, Calipari has two more months to find the right gear for this young team, and on most occasions, Calipari usually finds it.