By RICHARD CHEEKS, Contributing Writer
The Calendar has turned to December, and the Cats will mark the second month of the basketball season with their second venture out of Lexington. In November, the Cats traveled to Chicago where they sustained their only loss of this season to Kansas. This time, the Cats are in New York City to face Monmouth at the Madison Square Garden. Monmouth is no Kansas, yet Thursday coach John Calipari warned that Monmouth would challenge his Cats, and warned about a potential lack of energy for a noon tip off.
I am beginning to wonder if Calipari has no shame in making such ridiculous public pronouncements. Any Kentucky basketball team that lacks the energy to play basketball, whether at noon, 2 pm, 5 pm, 8 pm, or midnight, is a problem that is unrelated to the time on a clock. Further, Kansas, which just lost its first game of the season, has been the most efficient team in the nation and remains in the #2 spot following its loss this week. Monmouth on the other hand is no Kansas. Monmouth enters Saturday’s game with a 3-6 record, and #150 ranking based on ANE as of today.
Kentucky has not played at a level consistent with its ranking in the subjective wire service polls, and it is not even close. Kentucky enters this game ranked #49 based on ANE. This ranking explains why these Cats have failed to put lesser opponents away by margins on par with a championship contending team. Talk about lacking energy, or lacking stamina, or lacking experience, or the starting time of the games, or the strength of the array of opponents that have competed at Rupp Arena against this team to margins of 10 (#147 Utah Valley), 4 (#71 Vermont), 8 (#133 Troy), or 9 (#155 Harvard) are nothing but diversions to avoid the unpleasant truth. This team’s play has not measured up to standards established by teams capable of competing on the big stage in March.
So, Big Blue Nation, brace for another “tough” opponent this Saturday. The Hawks of Monmouth are coming!
Monmouth will enter the game as the #151 rated team at Pomeroy. Monmouth has started the 2017-18 season with a 3-6 record. The Hawks’s three wins have been over #97 Bucknell by 1, at #198 Lehigh by 8, and over #99 Albany by 8. However, among Monmouth’s six losses are a 1 point home loss to #146 Hofstra this Wednesday and a home loss to #144 Penn by 5 in 4OT.
The Adjusted Net Efficiency (ANE) analysis for this match up indicates a 14 point Kentucky win over Monmouth in a game played at 72 possessions, 79-65. Pomeroy sees this game with Kentucky having a 14-point advantage, 79-65 played at a pace of 71 possessions.
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