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Kentucky Wildcats Morning Quickies: Basketball Finding Its Way Edition

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Kentucky basketball is starting slow, but showing some signs, both hopeful and maddening.

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Kentucky v Kansas Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Good morning, ladies and gentlemen of the Big Blue Nation, and welcome to the Tuesday Morning Quickies.

Today, there is relatively little big news to talk about, so let’s take a quick recap of where Kentucky basketball sits right now.

First, a few quick stats:

  • Kentucky is currently ranked #12 on Ken Pomeroy’s site.
  • The Wildcats are 21st in the country in offensive efficiency and 9th in defensive efficiency.
  • 3-point shooting is 34.3%, about average for Division 1.
  • 2-point shoting is 54.5%, 67th in the rankings.
  • Offensive rebounding percentage is 36.6%, 28th in the rankings.
  • Turnovers are at 21%, 258th in the rankings
  • Free throw attempts/Field goal attempt is 39.3%, 80th overall.
  • Free throw shooting is 66.8%, 272nd in the country.

As you can see above, overall these are pretty pedestrian numbers for any Kentucky team in the Calipari era other than 2013. Kentucky is really having trouble taking care of the ball, and if there is one stat that stands out as hurting the team most, it has to be turnovers. When you surrender one possession in five to the other team, it’s going to be reflected in many other stats, and ultimately in the W/L column.

Calipari has often suggested he’s somewhat insensitive to turnovers. If so, that’s a blind spot he needs to work on. If this were the end of the season rather than the beginning, this would be the highest turnover rate Coach Cal has had at Kentucky. While the 2010 team is close and they did okay, 2013 is also close and they did not.

But enough doomcrying, this number will improve as the team, particularly Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Quade Green, improve as they surely will. How much better it gets will determine, in large part, how good this UK team can ultimately be. We have seen the Wildcats shoot well, rebound well, and make free throws, and even take care of the ball. What we haven’t seen is them do all this in a single game.

On the positive side, Gilgeous-Alexander is in the top 25 in America in steals percentage, and that helps to offset the turnovers a little bit. Nick Richards is one of the most efficient players in the country, as well as one of the best rebounders. Fouls are his kryptonite.

Overall, Kentucky looks like the 2014 team without Julius Randle. Kentucky this season lacks a dominant player like that, although this year’s team is much longer and is showing the ability to defend that the 2014 Wildcats lacked. That will serve them in good stead if they continue to improve.

The next team up is Monmouth, and while their 3-5 record looks bad, they have played some pretty good teams close on the road, and nearly beat UConn in Storrs. They get to the line, make threes, and defend pretty well.

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You go, Devin!

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