Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Kentucky 88 - 56 Samford (No. 2,095)

This was a real tale of two halves.  In the first half, Samford was ice-cold and couldn't make anything -- due in part to a very aggressive effort by the UK defense -- and the Cats ran out to a 45-14 halftime lead.  The second half did not feature the same intensity -- both teams just ran up and down the court taking shots.  The Cats won that half by only 43-42, and Coach Cal spent a lot of time screaming at folks.

To me, the best thing about this game was that Mays, Poythress and Goodwin combined to go 6-11 from three-point range.  UK's outside shooting was terrible in its losses to Notre Dame and Baylor -- the Cats went 4-14 from three-point range in South Bend and 4-22 behind the arc against Baylor.  To run the gamut of zone defenses that they will face over the rest of the year, they have to shoot well from the outside.  Right now they are 47th in the country in three-point shooting percentage, at 38.5 percent.  Those aren't bad numbers -- if they can maintain them for the rest of the year.

To do that, they will need Wiltjer to shoot better as well.  He went only 1-5 from three-point range, dropping him to 16-46 (34.8 percent) for the year.  He has to get much better from our there.  Last year, Wiltjer made 43.2 percent of his three-point attempts.  Lamb made 46.6 percent.  For UK to be a serious force, Wiltjer needs to get up into the mid-40's.

The Cats also need to get better at the line.  Last night, they went 9-18, which is dreadful.  For the year, they have made only 64.4 percent of their free throws -- a figure that puts them 271st in the country in that category.

In other areas, however, we are seeing improvement.  This was the third straight game they've held their opponents under 70 points, and their rebounding has gotten much better.  Last night they out-rebounded Samford 41-25.  Pomeroy still has them at number 25 in the country for defensive efficiency, but if they keep playing like they did in the first half, that ranking will improve.

On the whole, Pomeroy appears to have a good bead on the Cats for now.  He said that they would win 81-53, and they led 82-53 with about two minutes to go.  If he's right, we're looking at a Sweet-16 quality team.  He has UK as the 12th best team in the country, and he thinks they'll finish with a record of 22-9.  It's not everything we were hoping for at the beginning of the season, but it would be an improvement over how they looked against Baylor.

1 comment:

  1. Right. And our coach is John Calipari, which means one or more of these guys is likely going to be definitively better at the end of the year than he was at the beginning (along the lines of DeAndre Liggins, Josh Harrelson or Marquis Teague). I think either Wiltjer or Ryan Harrow is a pretty good candidate for this transformation.