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Kentucky Basketball: ESPN projects UK to have a top-10 offense

The Wildcats are expected to be elite defensively, but will they be able to score at the same pace?

Immanuel Quickley Quade Green Jeremy Chisenhall - Sea of Blue

As we transition into the official preseason period for college basketball, there is no shortage of lists out there comparing the top programs.

On Wednesday, ESPN released a projection of the top 10 teams in the country offensively. After their performance in the Bahamas, it was no surprise that Kentucky made the cut.

Projected Top Ten Offenses

  1. Kansas Jayhawks
  2. North Carolina Tar Heels
  3. Gonzaga Bulldogs
  4. Duke Blue Devils
  5. Nevada Wolf Pack
  6. TCU Horned Frogs
  7. Kentucky Wildcats
  8. Michigan State Spartans
  9. Villanova Wildcats
  10. Auburn Tigers

Kentucky averaged fewer points per possession (1.06) during conference play last season than anyone else on the list, but apparently ESPN writer John Gasaway is impressed with the new players Calipari has brought to Lexington.

The Wildcats also have the third fewest (Villanova, Duke) returning possession-minutes (32) on the list, which is actually higher in 2018-2019 than most seasons at Kentucky. With Quade Green, PJ Washington, and Nick Richards returning the Wildcats have a core of guys that saw a lot of game action last season.

How will these numbers translate to the new season? This is what Gasaway had to say about why he believes the Wildcats will be one of the highest scoring teams in college basketball this year:

Full disclosure: Kentucky stands out on this list as the team with arguably the most average offense from last season. Then again, this is a new season. Freshman Tyler Herro looked impressive during the Wildcats’ trip to the Bahamas last month, Immanuel Quickley is showing highly promising signs at the point guard position, and the Wildcats added Stanford graduate transfer Reid Travis.

Don’t be surprised if John Calipari has these guys crashing the offensive glass, getting to the foul line (hello, Nick Richards) and attempting and possibly even making just enough 3s to keep opposing defenses off balance.

Kentucky averaged 92.25 points per game in the Bahamas against professional competition. That number is not really sustainable over the course of an entire season. In fact, John Calipari has only had one team at Kentucky to average over 80 points per game, and that was the 2016-2017 team led by Malik Monk and De’Aaron Fox.

That squad averaged 84.9 points per game, and if this year’s team can possibly eclipse that mark it would really be something special.

Given the defensive potential of this group both on the perimeter and in the post, putting over 85 points on the board regularly would make them very tough to beat.

Could this be Calipari’s highest scoring Kentucky team yet?