The Kentucky Wildcats were no-shows in Columbia last night as the South Carolina Gamecocks knocked off the Cats for the second straight season.
How did they do it? Well, the tape speaks for itself.
Lamont Paris had his squad prepared and executed their game plan to perfection, playing physically with the Cats at the point of attack and making sure that Kentucky could not put up any volume from 3. That ultimately led to the season low in points scored at 62 for this UK team.
Now, the question that will linger throughout the fanbase is this: Can this Kentucky team make a deep postseason run?
Obviously, the answer to that question has fluctuated throughout the last few weeks, but it all comes down to this: Offensively, they can beat anyone, but defensively, they struggle to stop any team. The stats back it up.
Let’s first start with a statistic from just conference play. According to Corey Price of the UK Sports Network, this is the first time that the Kentucky program has allowed more than 77 points in each of their first six conference games since they joined the league 91 seasons ago.
This is the 91st season that Kentucky has played in the SEC. This is the first time ever that Kentucky has allowed at least 77 points in each of their first 6 SEC games of a season.— Corey Price (@coreyp08) January 24, 2024
To add more fuel to the fire, KenPom has also shown Kentucky’s regression on the defensive end of the court as well. In the KenPom defensive efficiency stat, here is where the Cats have ranked in the last five seasons, including this season:
- 52nd in 2019-20
- 35th in 2020-21
- 36th in 2021-22
- 68th in 2022-23
- 94th to this point in 2023-24
The regression speaks for itself when looking at the numbers. Here is the thing, though: It won’t shock anyone if the Cats come out the rest of the season and get back to their 90+ scoring games.
Ultimately, at Colonial Life Arena, the BBN saw the worst of both worlds. The defense wasn’t great, and the offense couldn’t get going, which is the recipe for disaster against anyone.
This team could beat anyone in the country, but there are also quite a few teams that can beat this team on any given night.
Are they set up for a deep postseason run? While the offense is up to par, the defense is too much of a liability right now to see Kentucky winning 4+ games in the NCAA Tournament. Until it gets better and this team shows it can play more physically, it’s hard to see this team making it past the second weekend of March Madness.