Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Vanderbilt 64 - 78 Kentucky (No. 2,312)

The best way to understand this game is to think of it as four different quarters:

First quarter:  Vanderbilt 23 - 13 Kentucky
Second quarter:  Vanderbilt 13 - 14 Kentucky
Third quarter:  Vanderbilt 10 - 24 Kentucky
Fourth quarter:  Vanderbilt 18 - 27 Kentucky

At one point, the Cats were down 36-22 with 3:30 left in the first half.  From there to the end of the game, they outscored Vandy 56 to 28.

Here's what it looked like when the same two teams met in Lexington a few weeks ago:

First quarter:  Kentucky 16 - 13 Vanderbilt
Second quarter:  Kentucky 12 - 22 Vanderbilt
Third quarter:  Kentucky 21 - 15 Vanderbilt
Fourth quarter:  Kentucky 22 - 12 Vanderbilt

At one point in that game, the Cats were down 40-30 with 17:44 left in the second half.  From there to the end, they outscored Vandy 41 to 22.

I cannot remember seeing any UK team that turns itself on and off the way this one does.  The 2002 team -- famously remembered as "Team Turmoil" -- had some of these qualities.  But I never felt like those guys were in control of their own situation -- sometime they were great, and sometimes they were terrible, and you never knew what you were going to get.

This team is different.  They will play well only when they face adversity.  If they face a real challenge -- like Michigan State, or Louisville, or Tennessee on the road -- they'll give you a good effort.  But if they play a team like Vandy -- or Evansville, or Utah -- they simply will not play good basketball until they are well behind.  Similarly, they won't play well against anyone once they have a 10-point lead.  Because of this habit, I have no idea how good they really are.

But they have swept the two Tennessee schools on the road, and the only other Calipari teams to accomplish that feat were the 2012 National Champions and the 2015 team that started off 38-0.  So that's a very nice accomplishment.

Three-point watch:  The Cats went 6-9 from three-point range last night, so they went 11-19 in their two games in Tennessee.  They now lead the SEC in three-point shooting percentage, with a shooting percentage of 37.5 percent in SEC play.  But they are last in three-point attempts, as they shoot threes only 22.5 percent of the time.  Those two numbers seem odd together, but they are actually perfect, given this team's makeup.

1 comment:

  1. The Cats are now 4-2 on the road in SEC play; 5-2 on the road since the beginning of the year if you count the Texas Tech game. Believe it or not, UK only has three road games left.