The Kentucky Wildcats are sitting at 12-3 on the year, after a rough loss to Texas A&M this past Saturday in College Station. The story of the game for UK? The defense and the offensive rebounds allowed.
To be honest, that’s been the storyline that has followed this team to this point in the season overall. They have an elite offense, but can their defense get any better? And can they stop surrendering so many offensive boards and second-chance opportunities to score?
That’s the question John Calipari and his staff have to work to answer as we approach the midway point of the college basketball season.
Now that we are 15 games into the regular season, one stat that doesn’t help the argument for the defense is the number of times they have given up 80+ points in a game. According to Corey Price of the UK Sports Network, this Cats team has given up 80+ in seven of their games to this point in the season, a mark not seen since the 1990-91 season.
Kentucky has allowed at least 80 points in 7 of their first 15 games of a season for the first time since 1990-1991— Corey Price (@coreyp08) January 15, 2024
That was the second of two years in which Kentucky had a postseason ban, so not good company to be in.
It feels like this might be a double-edged sword overall. This team is not going to be elite defensively, but when opposing teams play Kentucky, they are also likely getting 10+ more possessions per game due to the pace the Cats play.
Do we ask the Cats to slow it down? Absolutely not, but it is still an interesting stat to track through the remainder of the season, one that could be aided if Kentucky can stop giving up so many offensive boards.
@KySportsRadio and others asked what Texas A&M's shot percentages were against Kentucky based on what shot attempt, given their 25 offensive rebounds.— Tristan Pharis (@TristanUda) January 15, 2024
Here they are:
1st attempt: 25/64 (39.1%)
2nd attempt: 7/15 (46.7%)
3rd attempt or more: 1/3 (33.3%)
Overall, the Cats need to find a way to get some stops in close games. These next matchups against Mississippi State and Georgia will be good opportunities.