Numbers favor Cats by 15 points over Utah

By RICHARD CHEEKS, Contributing Writer

The fall semester ended on Friday with the end of Finals Week, As the semester closes, Quade Green announced he is leaving the basketball team to seek better opportunities. While Green’s departure for greener pastures is the first to occur during the Calipari Era during the course of the season, Green’s departure is not the first Calipari recruited player to conclude that their future will be better served playing basketball somewhere else for another coach.

How can it be possible that any player would consider playing anywhere else a better opportunity than playing for the Kentucky Wildcats? Previous transfers included players who had skills that the Wildcats really needed after their departure, and at least two such departees have joined teams that competed in final fours for NCAA Championships.

The departure of Quade Green should be a cause for concern among the coaching staff, and throughout the Big Blue Nation. At the time of his departure, Quade Green led this team in 3 point shooting percentage at a time when the team struggles to find consistency from outside the arc. Yet, his playing time, which was rather limited on last year’s team, had declined from last year’s numbers.

When Utah comes into Rupp Arena on Saturday evening, the period that has come to be known as Camp Cal officially begins. No Calipari led UK team has needed Camp Cal more than the current crop of inexperienced (but very talented we are told) players. They have struggled through their first 9 games with a 7-2 record. The chewed up and devoured their 6 November cupcakes and secured a 7th win at Rupp over Greensboro. However, this team tasted defeat both times it ventured outside of Rupp to face an opponent. Utah will be this group’s last game at Rupp until January 8, 2019 when Texas A&M comes to town.

Utah enters this game with a 4-4 record. The Running Utes’ most impressive win was over #101 Grand Canyon by 9 points, and Utah’s most embarrassing loss came to #182 Hawaii by 11. Utah enters the game placing a heavy emphasis upon 3 point shooting. 46% of Utah’s shots occur from beyond the arc, and they have made 36% of those attempts. In two games this season, Utah has made 10 three-point baskets.

UK’s most glaring defensive deficiency has been 3 point shooting defense. On the season, this UK defense has allowed opponents to make over 40% of all three-point attempt. Furthermore, opponents have shot better from the arc against this UK team than against all of their opponents, making 3.7% more of their collective 3 point attempts than those teams average against all of their opponents. 

Last Saturday’s loss to Seton Hall at MSG reduced UK’s ANE to 0.154 ppp against a schedule strength of -0.042 ppp. Utah enters this game with an ANE of 0.005 ppp against a schedule strength of -0.036 ppp. The ANE analysis indicates a 15 point advantage for the Cats at Rupp, 84-69 in a game played at a pace of 68 possessions. Pomeroy projects a 13 point Kentucky win over Utah, 80-67, at a pace of about 67 possessions.

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