By LARRY VAUGHT
Kentucky was just 1-for-12 from 3-point range in Monday’s win over Utah Valley, a stat that prompted some UK fans to wonder if more practice time at Rupp Arena would help UK’s shooting.
The only hole in that theory is that the Cats did go 31-for-34 at the foul line, one of the best performances in the John Calipari era at UK.
So how does one explain those two incompatible statistics?
“That’s what our staff just said,” Kentucky coach John Calipari said after Monday’s game. “How do you do that?”
That prompted Calipari to remember what former NBA standout Sam Cassell said, ‘You cannot be afraid to miss,’” Calipari said. “Even Nate (Sestina) was pulling back. That means you’re afraid you’re going to miss. You can’t play that way.
“I’ll say this again, folks, everybody that comes in here has nothing to lose. They have nothing to lose. So, you know what? You have to play like you have nothing to lose. You have to play the same way, which is why in March we have a big advantage.”
However, Calipari threw in a big if.
“But I don’t know if we can get to March. I’m, like, what, we got to start playing better,” Calipari said.
I don’t believe for a minute that he has any doubts about his team making the NCAA Tournament and likely having a really good seed.
“Defensively we are doing some good stuff, but not everybody was locked into our team. And it’s understood. They’re young kids,” Calipari said.
Don’t blame the longer 3-point line on UK’s 21 percent mark from long range in four games. As Calipari correctly noted, other teams are not having a problem — Utah Valley hit 11 3-pointers against UK.
“We go through this every year. I think part of it is I’ve got to figure out maybe there’s an offense that we’re running that I just say we’re trying to get 3’s off. This offense is trying to get 3’s,” Calipari said. “Maybe we get into that.”