First Duke, enter Kentucky into the fragile picture

SONG SELECTION:

Kathryn Calder, “Slow Burning”
From her 2015 self-titled album, under the File Under Music (Canada) label

Kentucky squandered a 21 point first half lead before losing to Tennessee 84-77 on Tuesday night.

Instead of talking mostly about the game in general, CBSSports.com devoted several reasons to why this group of Wildcats continues to draw fouls–both with and without the ball.  And yes, their tournament chances once looking very promising are starting to resemble 2013 all over again–but worse.

This is not my version of the 50 things to watch out for during Sunday evening’s Super Bowl 50 between Denver and Carolina, but this could prove that Kentucky might be the first repeat school in my “Under The Microscope” series:

  • Kentucky has lost the free-throw battle in each of its past six games, also during eight of their last 10 games.  Each of their losses this season has come with the fact that they have not been to the free-throw line more than their opponents have.
  • During conference play, the Wildcats stand 13th in free-throw attempts per field-goal attempt while on offensive, and 11th defensively.  That puts them in the “bottom third of the league in both drawing fouls for free throws and in committing them.”  You foul a team in desperation, similar to a third stringer NFL lineman drawing offsides penalties on successive snaps of the football.  Extending the game is another issue entirely.
  • According to TeamRankings.com, Kentucky is committing fouls on 29.2 percent of their possessions which is second-highest in the SEC behind Georgia, which puts the Wildcats 276th overall in the country.
  • No player on Kentucky is drawing at least five fouls per-40 minutes. Tyler Ulis is the closest at 4.9, “which places him in the 23rd percentile nationally.  Conversely, three of Kentucky’s four bigs have averaged at least 5.6 fouls per-40 minutes on average.  Figure also in terms of players who have played at least 300 total minutes this season (that’s close to about 14 minutes per game), no other team in the SEC comes close to those marks.

More thoughts about LSU and another school with a thin margin for error will appear in my next edition of “Under The Microscope” coming before this week is out.

 

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