Kentucky Basketball: Game Stats Provide Hope, Final Score Not So Much

USA TODAY Sports

It's easy to give up on Kentucky after the loss at home to Texas A&M, but here's some reasons why you shouldn't.

I have read all the comments and frustration by the Big Blue Faithful, and I just want you all to know that I feel your pain. We aren't used to this kind of thing lately, and the shock of it can be hard to deal with. Deal with it we must, however, and this post will put the final touches on the loss to the Texas A&M Aggies.

As usual, I'll head on over to Statsheet.com to pull out the Four Factors chart, which you will find below.

The first stat that stands out is eFG%. TAMU shot a staggering 60.8% against the 4th best defensive efficiency in college basketball. TAMU's efficiency for this game, adjusted, was 132.

Let's put all that in perspective. Kentucky hasn't given up a 132 OE number since 2007 against Kansas, where we gave up 134. Kentucky hasn't given up an OE over 115 all year. This was a Jodie Meeks moment for Kentucky, with Elston Turner playing the part of Meeks. We remember that game down in Knoxville when Meeks went off for 54, right? This is exactly the same deal -- Kentucky's OE in the Meeks game was only 135, and our eFG% something like 68%.

Did Tennessee have a chance to win that game? They did not. They were never in it at all. Kentucky did have a chance to win this one, but made mistakes down the stretch that cost them the game. I think that's important to note. You have to decide for yourself whether an offensive anomaly like this is a reason to panic. I don't think so, although to be fair, the result might be a reason to panic a little.

Okay, moving on to turnovers. UK turned it over 17.7%, which is fine. 2 turnovers came after the game was no longer in doubt when UK had given up. That would put us down under 15% turnovers, a very solid number.

Offensive rebounding, the bugaboo of Kentucky all year was another loss, but it was by a relatively small margin, and probably due to the fact that one of our best rebounders, Willie Cauley-Stein, was hampered all game with foul trouble. Despite that, Kentucky managed an impressive (for them) 41.2% offensive rebound percent. That's a good number. Yes, UK gave up 48% and that's not so good, but getting 41% offensive rebounds against a team as physical as TAMU is good news and no mistake. Remember, this is the same team that got only 29% OR against a weaker Vanderbilt team.

Finally, free throw rate, which Kentucky won and shot a good percentage. Had we done the right things with 4 minutes left, that stat would have kept the game close and given us a chance to win. It is a good number at 39%, and a good percentage at 77%

So here, we have seen that this team improved in every way, except for an uncharacteristic, and frankly unprecedented, defensive performance. That was all due, 100%, to Elston Turner's phenomenal shooting performance. I cannot speak to how you stop a player that hot, because I have seen good defensive teams try and fail hundreds of times.

In the end, statistically, there is a lot to like, Unfortunately, the only statistic that counts is the final score, and that has a lot to dislike -- maybe even a reason to panic a little.

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