It’s tough criticizing Kentucky this early in the season, but it appears there is already one major flaw reoccurring for the Wildcats.
Last weekend, the Seton Hall Pirates stunned the Wildcats at Madison Square Garden in large part because of their 42.3 field goal percentage from beyond the arc. Although this was only the second loss of the season for the prestigious program, it’s becoming very evident that the team struggles to defend opponents on the perimeter.
This week, Sports Illustrated‘s Molly Geary went through each top team’s deficiencies heading into the conference play, including the Kentucky Wildcats.
From Sports Illustrated:
When opponents are hitting 40% of their threes against you, that’s … less than ideal. To be fair to Kentucky, three-point defense is a notoriously tricky thing to measure, and there’s evidence that suggests the Wildcats have had a bit of bad luck so far (for one thing, per Synergy data, opponents are hitting almost the same percentage of their guarded and unguarded three-point attempts). If that regresses to the mean, it will help Kentucky’s cause. But it is a bit alarming that opponents are getting 38.3% of their points from the perimeter, 7% above the D-I average (per kenpom.com). The Wildcats are almost the polar opposite on offense, getting only 19.8% of their points from three (and one of their best outside shooters, Quade Green, just announced he’s transferring). Kentucky needs to do a better job of denying opponents outside looks, or else a lot of its games this year could be determined by whether those shots are falling.
With back-to-back matchups against Utah and North Carolina on the schedule, it’ll be crucial for Kentucky to limit its opponents from downtown.
As for Quade Green’s decision to transfer out of Lexington, the Wildcats now have to replace a guard that shot 37.6 percent from three-point range all of last season.
Despite having this major flaw through nine games, John Calipari usually finds a way to make his team click on all cylinders when it really matters.