The Kentucky Wildcats were in a major slump entering Saturday’s matchup with the top-five Tennessee Volunteers. The Cats opened as 13-point underdogs, their largest margin as a dog in the John Calipari era.
Having lost two in a row and four of their last seven, the Cats were not expected to pull out a win in Knoxville, but they did just that, holding Tennessee to just 56 points despite starting the game down a quick 8-0.
Kentucky used free-throw shooting to its advantage. It was a remarkable 22/25 from the stripe, which, as you can see, is something to marvel at for a Calipari-led roster.
Best free-throw percentage by @KentuckyMBB in a true road game in the @UKCoachCalipari era (min. 25 att.):— Corey Price (@coreyp08) January 14, 2023
- 96% 2/27/21 at Vanderbilt (24-25)
- 90% 2/18/14 at Ole Miss (27-30)
- 88% 1/14/23 at Tennessee (22-25)
- 88% 2/8/20 at Tennessee (22-25)
And it wasn’t like all these makes were made by a few guys. Six different players attempted at least two free throws, the high man being Antonio Reeves going 8/8.
The second-best shooter? None other than Adou Thiero, who went 4/4 while playing extended minutes with Sahvir Wheeler out and Cason Wallace battling foul trouble and back issues.
Kentucky ranks 291st in the nation in free-throw shooting at 67.4%, so it certainly hasn’t been a strength of this team. The Cats also don’t get to the line too often, ranking 170th in the nation in free-throw attempts per game at 17.8.
Going 22/25 was huge for the Cats was massive, and if that’s something that continues further into conference battles, they should be able to start stringing wins together and make a stronger case for an at-large big come March.