After a recent slump, can Kentucky men’s basketball find its groove again?

After a recent slump, can Kentucky men’s basketball find its groove again?

After a recent slump, can Kentucky men’s basketball find its groove again?

After winning eight of their previous nine games, Kentucky was 15-3 and rated sixth in the country less than two weeks before. But things have changed since then.

It’s been a huge turn around for head coach John Calipari and the Wildcats. As of right now, Kentucky has lost three of its past four games. At Rupp Arena last week, there were two losses: to Tennessee (103-92) and to Florida (94-91).

The Wildcats have dropped all the way to a No. 6 seed in CBS Sports’ most recent bracketology assessment, and they are currently ranked 27th by KenPom.

Can Kentucky men's basketball reclaim its mojo after recent slide?

After a recent slump, can Kentucky men’s basketball find its groove again?

What happened?

The information available suggests that the solution is simple. In its last three losses, Kentucky allowed 92 points per game on average. This occurred on January 23 against South Carolina, on Thursday against Florida, and on Saturday against Tennessee.

Combined, the Gamecocks, Gators, and Volunteers would have the lowest field goal percentage in the SEC at 45.8%.

The Wildcats’ defense was especially flimsy against Tennessee. Even if brilliant rookie Dalton Knecht had a poor game (5 of 14 from the field, 1 of 5 from three). The Volunteers were outstanding in the paint, off the bounce, and from the outside. Kentucky just did not know the answers.

Fixing the defense will stop his team’s downward trend, thus Calipari’s job is easy, right? Not precisely. After all, the Wildcats’ defensive problems are nothing new.

According to KenPom, Kentucky is 102nd in the country for adjusted defensive efficiency. They have allowed points to opponents such as Kansas, Saint Joseph’s, 80, UNC Wilmington, 83, North Carolina, 85 in their first meeting with Florida, 97 against Texas A&M, and 96 against Georgia.

Sheppard told reporters on Saturday, “We have to be more physical.” “We have to hit them to get them out of the way; we can’t let them hit us and get pushed under the basket.”

The fact that the regular season is still over a month away is one advantage the Wildcats enjoy.

With South Carolina, Auburn, and Tennessee ahead of the Wildcats, who are tied with Ole Miss and Florida at 5-4 in conference play, Kentucky sits three games behind Alabama for the top spot in the SEC. However, Kentucky still has a chance to get back into the running for the regular-season championship.

The Wildcats travel to play Vanderbilt on Tuesday, followed by a special nonconference matchup with Gonzaga at Rupp on Saturday.

After that, the SEC resumes play on February 17 at Auburn, February 24 at Alabama, and March 9 at Tennessee. If Kentucky can get Wagner back soon, those games present an opportunity for a fully healthy Wildcat team to make a run at victory.

Will that include a better defense? Time will tell.

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