The Kentucky Wildcats have struggled as of late on the offensive end. In the past three games the Cats have shot just 31.6 percent from the floor, which explains two losses and a rough win Tuesday night against Alabama. But there is still hope, don’t throw Kentucky out as a National Championship contender.
The young Wildcats have also taken a lot of shots lately, the issue is they just didn’t go in. Against Alabama they shot 28 threes, of course they only hit five of them. In the Arkansas loss they took 76 shots. That game did go into overtime, but 76 shots is a ton.
Why are they able to take so many shots? Rebounds. Lots and lots of rebounds. Kentucky is fifth in the nation in rebounds with 41.7 a game, they are allowing just 31.4 rebounds per game. The only team ahead of them that will make it to the tournament is Texas, who averages 41.8 rebounds per game.
It is the offensive rebounds that are helping them get extra shots. With an average of 15.1 offensive rebounds per game, Kentucky is able to miss threes and still get second chances.
UK’s bigs know how to rebound, you give Calipari a little credit for that. Randle averages an amazing 10.5 rebounds per game, 3.6 of them are offensive boards. Willie Cauley-Stein and Dakari Johnson give Kentucky just under ten boards combined a game. With their long guards and wings, it is hard to battle with them on the glass.
Complain about this team’s offense all you want, but it is hard to argue against a team that can own the glass against any team in the nation. Does their offense need work? For sure, but they have already shown earlier in the season that they can score. If their shooting just goes up a little this team will make it far in the tournament.
When asked by a concerned Kentucky about what they need to fix before the tourney, SI’s Seth Davis said this:
The good news for Kentucky is that it still does two things as well as any team in the country — hit the offensive glass and get to the free throw line. The Wildcats need to get back to making those things the heart of their identity. Their main problem lately has been shot selection, but they showed enough ability in this area this season to make us believe they can get back to that. And in Julius Randle, they still have one of the top 10 players in the country. Most teams would love to have an asset like that.
If the old saying “Defense wins championships” is even remotely true then Kentucky still has hope. If you add young talent who is just one step away from getting their offensive groove back, then there is a lot of hope.
Kentucky will get a chance to show what type of team they are Saturday when they play No.1 Florida on the road.
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