Friday, February 21, 2020

SEC Update

Since coming to Kentucky, Coach Cal has had four teams win an outright SEC regular season title:  2010 (Wall and Cousins), 2012 (National Champs), 2015 (38-0), and 2017 (I'm still angry about what happened to them).  On paper, this year's team isn't nearly as good as any of those teams.  But after their victory at LSU on Tuesday night, the Cats lead the SEC by two games with five games to go:

28.  Kentucky:  11-2

32.  Florida:  9-4
34.  LSU:  9-4
35.  Auburn:  9-4

46.  Mississippi St:  8-5
67.  S. Carolina:  8-5

62.  Tennessee:  7-6
148.  Texas A & M:  7-6

55.  Alabama:  6-7

104.  Missouri:  5-8

48.  Arkansas:  4-9
85.  Mississippi:  4-9

100.  Georgia:  3-10

175.  Vanderbilt:  1-12

At this point last year, UK was 11-2  in the SEC, and 22-4 overall.  This year, the Cats are 11-2 in the SEC, and 21-5 overall.  But last year, they were ranked 5th by Ken Pomeroy, and now they are ranked 28th.  What is the difference?

Last year's team had an offensive rating of 117.6, number 14 in the country.  This year's team has a rating of 111.8, 28th in the country.  Why the difference?

Last year's team made 52.9 percent of its 2-point shots.  This year's team shoots 50.8 percent from 2-point range -- the worst percentage of any UK team since 2014.

Last year's team made 35.4 percent of its 3-point shots.  This year's team shoots 32.7 percent -- the worse percentage of UK team since 2002.

Last year's team got offensive rebounds on 36.8 percent of opportunities (8th in the country).  For this year's team the comparable figure is only 31.0 percent (80th in the country), the worst figure for any UK team since 2008.

Now let's look at the defense.  Last year's team had a defensive rating of 90.1, 8th in the country.  The rating for this year's team is 94.1, 54th in the country.  What changed?

Last year's team allowed opponents to shot free throws equal to only 26.8 percent of their field goal attempts -- good for 28th in the country.  Under this year's team, that figure is up to 31.8 percent -- 170th in the country.

Last year's team was 55th in the country in preventing offensive rebounds.  This year's team is 200th.

So whether you look at the offense or the defense, you see the same basic pattern:  down low the Cats have not been able to dominate around the backboards like they did last year.  At the same time, this year's team doesn't have the shooting prowess of last year's team.  These facts explain why the Cats have played so many close games, and why they have such a hard time putting teams away.

On the other hand, these figures only relate to each team's overall performance.  This year's team has shown an ability to turn its performance on and off that is very unusual, and which makes them very difficult to read.  The team that barely survived Ole Miss on Saturday at home, shooting 2-22 from three-point range, just isn't very good.  The team that went to Baton Rouge and made seven three-pointers in a row, building a 15-point lead with five minutes to go, was awesome.  I predict a lot more close games before the season is over.

1 comment:

  1. Your prediction is spot-on so far.

    Immanuel Quickley is one of the best-ever UK names.