Monday, March 14, 2022

Cats Fall to Number 7

 Here is the final top 20 in the AP poll before the NCAA Tournament (SEC and OVC teams in bold):

1.  Gonzaga:  26-3
2.  Arizona:  31-3
3.  Kansas:  28-6
4.  Baylor:  26-6
5.  Tennessee:  26-7
6.  Villanova:  26-7
7.  Kentucky:  26-7
8.  Auburn:  27-5
9.  Duke:  28-6
10.  Purdue:  27-7
11.  UCLA:  25-7
12.  Texas Tech:  25-9
13.  Providence:  25-5
14.  Wisconsin:  24-7
15.  Houston:  29-5
16.  Iowa:  26-9
17.  Arkansas:  25-8
18.  Saint Mary's (Calif.):  25-7
19.  Illinois:  22-9
20.  Murray St. 30-2

This will be the fourth time UK has entered the NCAA Tournament as the number-7 team in the AP Poll:

1.  In 1969, the Cats went to Madison, Wisconsin and lost in the round of 16 to Marquette, 81 to 74.

2.  In 1994, the Cats went to St. Petersburg, Florida, where they beat Tennessee State 83-70, and lost to Marquette, 75 to 63.  This was the only Rick Pitino UK team that went to the NCAA Tournament but did not reach the Elite Eight.

3.  In 2005, the Cats went to Indianapolis, Indiana, where they beat E. Kentucky 72-64, and beat Cincinnati 69-60.  They then went to Austin, Texas, where they beat Utah 62-52.  This set up a game with Michigan State for the Final Four.  Michigan State won 94-88 in double overtime, ending Chuck Hayes's career and (although we didn't know it at the time) laying the groundwork for Tubby Smith's departure two years later.

4.  In 2019, the Cats went to Jacksonville, Florida, where they beat Abilene Christian 79-44, and beat Wofford 62-56.  They then went to Kansas City, where they beat Houston 62-58 on March 29, 2019 -- the last time UK won an NCAA Tournament game.  On March 31, 2019, Auburn beat UK 77-71 in overtime and moved on to the Final Four.


  1. Replies
    1. The worst loss in my lifetime was in 1986, when UK lost to LSU in the regional final. If I had been 20 years old in 2019, I would have been similarly devastated by the loss to Auburn.

    2. Three-point shooting in that game:

      Ashton Hagans: 1-4
      Keldon Johnson: 0-2
      Tyler Herro: 1-5
      P.J. Washington: 2-4
      Immanuel Quickley: 1-6
      Total: 5-21

      Free throws: 12-21

      So long, thanks for playing.

    3. Here are the numbers from UK's win over UNC in the 2011 Elite Eight:

      Terrence Jones: 1-2
      Darius Miller: 2-3
      Brandon Knight: 5-11
      DeAndre Liggins: 2-4
      Doron Lamb: 2-2
      Total: 12-22

      Free throws: 10-16

      That's how you advance. You have to make your shots.

    4. This is why Doron Lamb is one of my favorite Wildcats of all time.

    5. Lamb was with UK for two seasons. Since at least 1997, those are the only two seasons in which UK made at least 37 percent of its three-point shots. UK had a final four and a National Championship in those two years.

    6. This year's team makes only 34.9 percent from three-point range. That will be a problem.

    7. Update: Kentucky went 4-15 (26.7 percent) from three-point range against St. Peter's. The Peacocks went 9-17 (52.9 percent).

  2. Here are the first team All-Americans for UK since Cal arrived:

    2009-10: John Wall
    2011-12: Anthony Davis
    2014-15: Willie Cauley-Stein
    2015-16: Tyler Ulis

    It looks like Oscar Tshiebwe will join that list.

  3. In two years, Lamb was 144-303 from three-point range, for a percentage of 47.5 percent. That puts him number one on UK's list. He and Cameron Mills (81-171) are the only UK players to finish with a career percentage higher than 45. Of course, Mills also played for a National Champion.

  4. Here's UK's three-point shooting this year:

    Grady: 87-204 (42.6 percent)
    Mintz: 43-126 (34.1 percent)
    Washington: 35-101 (34.7 percent)
    Wheeler: 15-50 (30.0 percent)

    No one else has more than seven three-pointers all year.

  5. If the Cats get to the Sweet 16, they could win any game where Grady and Mintz are hot from the outside. But they will probably lose the first game where Grady and Mintz are cold.

    1. Grady and Mintz combined to go 2-10 from three-point range against St. Peter's, and UK lost that game.

  6. Washington and Brooks are also big X factors. In the last five minutes of a close game, UK's fate will likely be determined by whether or not they can score. It's not enough to get fouled -- they must make the free throws. Also, Brooks has to avoid turnovers.

  7. Vandy fans were pretty excited about the Commodores' performance in the SEC Tournament, but in the first round of the NIT, Vandy trails Belmont 19-12 with 12:30 left in the first half.

  8. With 10:39 left in the first half, Belmont leads 24-12. Vandy playing no defense and being very sloppy on offense.

  9. 6:56 left in the first half. Belmont 30, Vandy 21. Vandy has no free throws, which really hurts their offense.

  10. Vandy starting to play now. Belmont leads 35-31 with 3:03 left. Belmont is 4-6 from three-point range; Vandy is 3-11.

  11. A late charge puts Vandy up 39-38 at the half. Jordan Wright, who didn't shoot enough against UK, has 15 points on 7-9 shooting.

  12. Just a great game in Nashvegas. Vandy and Belmont are tied at 46 with 15:45 left. Belmont is 7-15 from three-point range; that's how they're hanging in there. Vandy is only 3-16. Jordan Wright now has 17 points, but he should be taking more shots.

  13. 11:43 left. Vandy leads 54-52. Wright now has 20 points on 9-12 shooting. Rest of team is 14-35. Belmont's offense still carving up Vandy's defense.

  14. Vandy up 64-56 with 7:27 left. Jordan Wright bangs in a three-pointer to give Vandy the 8-point lead. Wright now has 23 points on 10-13 shooting. Rest of team is 16-39. But they are playing better defense.

  15. Belmont fights back, and trails 65-63 with 4 1/2 minutes left. Scottie Pippen, Jr. tries that play where he dribbles around to draw a foul -- but he's not in the SEC and Vandy is called for a moving pick.

  16. Vandy leads 68-67 with 3:18 left. What a game!

  17. Pippen has two great possessions in a row. He sets up Vandy's big guy for a short jumper, and then he drives, scores, and is fouled! Vandy leads 72-67 with 2:44 left. Pippen going to the line.

  18. In other news, The Athletic has a big article on Kansas's 1997 team, which went 34-2 but lost to Arizona in the Sweet 16. Apparently the Jayhawks all regret that loss, although I can tell you that there was a Power looking out for that Arizona team. Anyway, the real problem with that game was that Kansas didn't let Paul Pierce do enough. He was unstoppable in that game, but he only took 13 shots.

  19. Pippen makes the FT, and Vandy leads 73-67.

  20. Down the stretch, Vandy pulls away, and the Dores win 82-71. Wright finishes with 24 points. Solid win for Vandy against a tough local rival.

    1. In the next round of the NIT, Vandy beat Dayton 70-68 in overtime. That set up a match with Xavier in Cincinnati, and the Musketeers ended Vandy's season with a 75-73 defeat. Vandy finished number 64 on Ken Pom, their best performance since 2017.

  21. IU fans on Twitter are complaining about the fact that while they were waiting for their play-in game with Wyoming, TruTV showed a story about UK. I think that's hilarious.

  22. With 2:44 left in the first half, IU leads Wyoming 22-21. IU has made 10-31 shots. Wyoming has made 9-23 shots. I bet those UK highlights are looking pretty good right now.