Thursday, December 4, 2014

Kentucky 58 - 38 Providence (No. 2,147)

I didn't see this game, as I was traveling on Sunday afternoon.  Here is the score by quarters:

1st:  Providence 14, UK 12
2d:  UK 14, Providence 8 (UK led 26-22 at the half)
3d:  UK 9, Providence 7 (UK led 35-29 with 10 minutes to go)
4th:  UK 23, Providence 9 (UK won 58-38)

On the surface, this seems like a really boring game.  But Providence is a pretty good team -- Ken Pomeroy has them ranked number 40 in the country.  And they did everything they could to slow down the game -- there were only 54 possessions in this game, by far the lowest number of any game the Cats have played all year.  And Providence hung around and had a chance with 10 minutes left.  And UK struggled from 3-point range (2-7) and the free throw line (8-17).  And the Cats still won by 20.

So far, Boston U and Buffalo are the only two teams to score 50 points against UK this year.  The Cats are first in the country in two-point shooting defense, with opponents making only 28.8 percent of their shots inside the arc.  The Cats are also first in block percentage -- they are blocking 26.7 percent of their opponents' shots.  In other words, you are almost as likely to have your shot blocked as you are to have it go in.  That is incredible.

In the past, UK didn't create a lot of turnovers, but that's not true anymore.  Over 27 percent of the opponents' possessions are ending in turnovers, meaning that the Cats rank number 7 in the country in that category.  Meanwhile, UK leads the nation in offensive rebounding, which allows the Cats to be very efficient when they have the ball.

One more point about defense:  Providence's best player is a guy named LaDontae Henton.  He scored 24 points against Florida State a few weeks ago, and 38 points against Notre Dame.  Here were his numbers against the Big Blue:  34 minutes, 0-4 from 2-point range, 1-4 from 3-point range, 0-0 from the line, 3 points, 3 rebounds, 0 assists, and 2 turnovers.  That is simply devastating.

Here is the bottom line:  through seven games, the Cats have outscored their opponents by a score of 553 to 312.  That works out to an average score of 79 to 45.  So far, the platoons are working.

But now we enter a new phase of the schedule.  Between now and the end of the year, the Cats will play number-6 Texas (at home), number-12 UNC (at home), UCLA (in Chicago), and number-5 Louisville (at the Ville).  Those games should tell us a lot more about this year's team.

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