Why Can’t Kentucky Win On The Road?
(Wildcat Nation )
If you check out the college basketball odds you might be surprised to find that UK probably will be the underdogs when the Cats head to Arkansas on Wednesday night. Kentucky has been terrible on the road recently. Here are a couple of reasons why they struggle outside of Lexington.
The dependence on freshmen is starting to wear on coach John Calipari and the Wildcats, and in the past you have needed some experience from the upperclassmen in order to win on the road. Like last year’s frosh-laden team, the Wildcats are led by a trio of first-year players, forward Terrence Jones and the guard duo of Brandon Knight and Doron Lamb. I don’t care who you are; in college sports, the fans make a much bigger difference than in the pros, and going into a hostile environment can cause you to squeeze the ball a bit too tight, especially in close games. This is definitely a major reason why all seven of Kentucky’s losses have come away from Lexington (a 17-point loss to UConn came in Hawaii), and all five of their SEC losses have come by a maximum of seven points.
Another reason is simply put, the Wildcats had high expectations after last year’s extraordinary team that put five freshmen in the first round of the NBA draft, including two in the top five (John Wall at No.1 and DeMarcus Cousins at No.5). This Kentucky team just doesn’t have the talent level of that team, and to be fair it’s tough to ask them to emulate that because last year’s team could manage to overcome mistake because of their high skill level. Also, despite the fact that they depended heavily on their freshmen, last year’s edition of the Wildcats was pretty deep as nine players averaged at least 11 minutes of playing time. This is year’s rotation is very short with six players averaging at least 26 minutes, and then it drops down to 9.2 minutes for junior forward Eloy Vargas.
In closing, a lack of talent, depth and late-game execution is killing the Wildcats on the road, and they have two chances to fix it before the SEC Tournament (at Arkansas tomorrow, at Tennessee on March 6th). "Coach Cal" will have to pull out one of his best coaching jobs to turn around the Wildcats outside of Lexington.
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By Mo Johnson
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