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Kentucky Basketball: What UK Can Do To Win Every Game From Here On Out

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Did the lede get you interested?  Well, I was only kidding.  If I could really produce something that would get us victories every time, I'm sure Coach Cal would be on the line posthaste.  But there is something that all our losses and difficult games have in common.

What is it?  Consider the table below:

2010-11 Wildcats Distribution
Opp Date FGA FGM 3PA 3PM 2p FG% 3p FG% eFG% 2PA% 3PA%
ETSU 12-Nov 68 33 26 13 47.62% 50.00% 58.10% 61.76% 38.24%
PORT 19-Nov 51 28 18 8 60.61% 44.44% 62.70% 64.71% 35.29%
OU 22-Nov 58 29 20 7 57.89% 35.00% 56.00% 65.52% 34.48%
UW 23-Nov 64 25 17 3 46.81% 17.65% 41.40% 73.44% 26.56%
UCONN 24-Nov 60 22 22 8 36.84% 36.36% 43.30% 63.33% 36.67%
BU 30-Nov 54 32 16 10 57.89% 62.50% 68.50% 70.37% 29.63%
UNC 04-Dec 62 24 21 9 36.59% 42.86% 46.00% 66.13% 33.87%
ND 08-Dec 57 23 24 9 42.42% 37.50% 48.20% 57.89% 42.11%
IU 11-Dec 61 22 17 6 36.36% 35.29% 41.00% 72.13% 27.87%
MVSU 18-Dec 59 27 18 7 48.78% 38.89% 51.70% 69.49% 30.51%
WINT 22-Dec 41 21 22 12 47.37% 54.55% 61.90% 46.34% 53.66%

There's nothing magic about this.  What I have done is highlighted 2 point FG% games where Kentucky has shot below 45% from 2 in yellow, games where Kentucky shot below 33% from 3 in red, and games where the effective FG% (which accounts for 3-point shots) below 50% in yellow.

As you can see, UK has won 3 out of five games where it's eFG was less than 50%.  That actually speaks very highly of the defense, as you will see a bit later, but before we move on to a comparison of last year's team, I want you to remember that UK has only once shot worse than 33% (which is the 2-point equivalent of 50%) from the arc.

Now, let's look at last year's team at the same point in the season:

2009-10 Wildcats Distribution
Opp Date FGA FGM 3PA 3PM 2P FG% 3P FG% eFG% 2PA% 3PA%
MSU 13-Nov 52 26 19 4 66.67% 21.05% 53.80% 63.46% 36.54%
MIA 16-Nov 53 26 11 6 47.62% 54.55% 54.70% 79.25% 20.75%
SHSU 19-Nov 60 36 22 11 65.79% 50.00% 69.20% 63.33% 36.67%
RIDER 21-Nov 66 34 16 4 60.00% 25.00% 54.50% 75.76% 24.24%
CSU 24-Nov 42 22 11 5 54.84% 45.45% 58.30% 73.81% 26.19%
STAN 25-Nov 56 25 19 6 51.35% 31.58% 50.00% 66.07% 33.93%
UNCA 30-Nov 69 36 18 8 54.90% 44.44% 58.00% 73.91% 26.09%
UNC 05-Dec 54 24 16 6 47.37% 37.50% 50.00% 70.37% 29.63%
UCONN 09-Dec 64 25 12 3 42.31% 25.00% 41.40% 81.25% 18.75%
IU 12-Dec 66 35 14 7 53.85% 50.00% 58.30% 78.79% 21.21%
APSU 19-Dec 63 32 12 8 47.06% 66.67% 57.10% 80.95% 19.05%

This is a little different, isn't it?  Unsurprising, of course, but different.  Last year's team couldn't shoot straight from 3, but boy, they could make the shots from 2.  Only one time did UK shoot below 45% from 2 last year in the same time frame, and only once in 11 games did they have an eFG below 50%, which they won.  Smokin'! 

But despite that, Kentucky 2009 had several too-close-for-comfort games in which they shot an eFG% of 50% or better, and that against a notably less difficult schedule than the Wildcats have faced this year.  That speaks volumes about where Kentucky's defense is compared to last year.

But the main takeaway I get from this is that all the 'Cats have to do is improve their 2-point percentage to be a very scary team.  A lot of that has to come from Terrence Jones and Darius Miller, both of whom have struggled of late from inside the arc.  Another way to look at it would be for UK to take even more shots from three than they currently do.  The distribution figures to the far right indicate the number of shots from each distance UK is currently taking, and as you might expect, they are taking a lot more this year than last.

What I think most UK fans would like to see is Kentucky more productive inside the arc than taking more threes.  I really do think that the 'Cats are taking about the right number of threes per game, and what would make us nearly impossible to beat is for the 2-point shooting to be consistently above 45%.

As a final parting note, Enes Kanter would undoubtedly increase UK's 2-point FG% above 45% singlehandedly.  He is that good inside.  So the ultimate answer to the problem is, as with most things this year -- FREE ENES!