Three take-aways from Kentucky’s 107-73 win over UIC on Sunday night:
1. That’s the best Kentucky has played thus far this season
John Calipari said it himself. Said his young team is getting better. Said that after seven games in 17 days, the Cats are trending the right way. And the numbers back him up.
Kentucky shot 66.7 percent from the floor in beating the Flames. That’s the second highest shooting percentage in the Calipari Era. The coach arrived in time for the 2009-10 season, remember. The best single-game shooting percentage for a Caliapri UK team came November 23, 2012 when the Cats shot 67.7 percent against Long Island University. That season didn’t turn out so well, but we won’t get into that.
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The Cats averaged 1.316 points per possession on Sunday night, their highest PPP since averaging 1.402 against Texas A&M at Rupp Arena last season. And that efficiency number has trended up from 0.987 against Troy last Monday, to 1.222 against Fort Wayne on Wednesday to the 1.3+ number on Sunday.
“That’s by far the best we’ve played,” Calipari said afterward. “We were efficient, we passed the ball, we made shots, and we took one bad shot. Kevin Knox took one in the first half, just like a step back with him and another guy on him. Short of that, I don’t think we took a bad shot. They were all good shots. They didn’t all go, but they were good shots.”
2. And now for a little practice time
“This has been a grind,” said Calipari.
What the quality of Kentucky’s early opponents have lacked, they’ve made up for in quantity. Aside from the Champions Classic loss to Kansas, there were no big names in the Cats’ first seven games, but there were a lot of them. In fact, there have been so many games squeezed into so few days, it has left little practice time for Calipari to switch into teacher mode.
Now, he can do just that. UK plays just four games in the next four weeks, one each Saturday -- Dec. 2 at home against Harvard; Dec. 9 in New York against Monmouth; Dec. 16 at home against Virginia Tech and Dec. 23 in New Orleans against UCLA.
“So we basically have seven days of practice, finally, to where we can try and get better and I can try to focus on some areas that I know we got to get better at,” said Calipari.
3. Why Kentucky isn’t taking more three-pointers
UK went four-of-12 from the behind the arc for 33.3 percent on Sunday. So after seven games, here’s how Calipari’s Kentucky teams have shot the three-pointer:
▪ 2009-10: 44-of-116 for 37.9 percenet
▪ 2010-11: 58-of-140 for 41.4 percent
▪ 2011-12: 42-of-106 for 39.6 percent
▪ 2012-13: 38-of-101 for 38.1 percent
▪ 2013-14: 35-of-121 for 28.9 percent
▪ 2014-15: 40-of-124 for 32.3 percent
▪ 2015-16: 27-of-98 for 27.6 percent
▪ 2016-17: 50-of-155 for 32.3 percent
▪ 2017-18: 32-of-84 for 38.1 percent
So far, anyway, this Kentucky team has taken 14 fewer threes that any other previous Calipari team here.
“Well, when you shoot 66 percent like we did and you’re getting it around the goal,” Calipari said, “and you’re shooting at that high a percentage -- if you’re going to shoot a bounch of threes, you’re going to have to shoot 41, 40 percent, 41, and not many teams are doing it.
“So we’ll figure it out. I would like to get about 15 to 18 threes a game up. Some games a little less, maybe some a little bit more, but not much more with this team.”s
Kentucky basketball 2017-18
vsMonmouth (New York)
vsUCLA (New Orleans)