Following his team’s 15th loss of the season, John Calipari told fans something that’s been glaringly obvious all year: this team misses a lot of shots, particularly right around the basket.
“Again, one-footers. This is a stat our fans may know or may not know: we may be the worst two-point shooting team in America,” Calipari told Tom Leach after the 70-62 defeat in Oxford.
According to KenPom, Kentucky isn’t the worst two-point shooting team in America, but it’s close. The Cats rank No. 312 in the country in the metric, the worst of any team in the Power 6 conferences. Last night, the Cats were 21-56 from the floor for 37.5%. Take out the 5-20 mark from three (25%) and Kentucky was 17-36 (47.2%) on two-pointers, including 7-12 on layups and 1-2 on dunks. When they did get to the free-throw line, the Cats were 15-25 (60%), well below their 73.4% season average.
“I’ve had friends of mine say, don’t you bring out the pads?” Cal said. “Tom, you’ve been there, do we? And we get in the game and we miss one-footers. I don’t know if we — I don’t know why. You have it right where you want it and you just miss them. And then you miss the free throw. It should be an and-one and wait a minute. And that stuff’s demoralizing.”
Also demoralizing: last night’s shot chart (Kentucky is light blue).
Kentucky relies on two-pointers more than two thirds of teams in college basketball. When they’re not missing gimmes at the rim, they’re missing midrange shots. Hoops Insight crunched the numbers to show Kentucky truly is Long Two U, this team especially.
To be clear, UK takes a higher % of their shots this season as 2ptrs away from the rim than all but 11 teams, despite ranking 298th in FG% from there.
UK almost always takes more midrange shots than anyone despite usually being in the bottom half of teams on hitting them.
— Hoops Insight (@HoopsInsight) March 3, 2021
Now compare that to Alabama, which has become one of the most exciting teams in college basketball in just two seasons under Nate Oats. Yesterday, Matt Norlander published a piece about Oats and Alabama, including this picture that hammers home how Oats is changing the game by prioritizing threes and shots at the rim:
Alabama’s practices include highly competitive scrimmages to 8 or 12 points. This is how Oats has broken mid-range shooting habits. The breakdown:
1 point: mid-range/long 2
2 points: at-the-rim 2
3 points: college 3
4 points: Steph/Dame-land
Here’s what the court looks like. pic.twitter.com/SJtiVhDcBm
— Matt Norlander (@MattNorlander) March 2, 2021
Calipari has said a few times this season he knows the game is changing and will recruit more shooters to adapt. This offseason will truly tell the story.