The puzzling case of Kentucky’s 3-point shooting

It’s no secret that the Kentucky Wildcats are an enigma when it comes to 3-point shooting.

What’s crazy about the Cats’ inconsistencies from deep is how much they struggle at home and how well they shoot on the road, as Jon Scott of Big Blue History notes:

Kentucky gets the bulk of its 3-point attempts from Immanuel Quickley (111) and Tyrese Maxey (91). Quickley is shooting a scorching 54.8% from deep on the road vs. 32.5% at home. Maxey is hitting 42.1% on the road vs. 26.4% at home.

Those two have combined to shoot 2/22 from deep over their last two home games. That’s actually what Kentucky shot as a team Saturday in what could have been a disastrous loss to Ole Miss.

Johnny Juzang, who is starting to find his groove, has hit 6/10 3-point attempts on the road (60%), but he’s converted just 13.6% of his triples in Rupp. He went 1/4 from deep on Saturday.

Nate Sestina is shooting 37.9% from deep at home vs. 35.7% on the road, but he hasn’t attempted a triple in his last three games as his minutes are getting reduced. His best shooting performance came in Las Vegas wen he hit 5/8 from deep vs. Ohio State.

Ashton Hagans is shooting 25.7% at home vs. 28.6% on the road. He’s missed his last seven triples at home, including an 0/5 effort Saturday. His last made 3-pointer at home was vs. Alabama on January 11th.

Now to be fair, the Rebels currently rank sixth nationally in 3-point defense, as opponents are hitting just 28.2% of their triples against Kermit Davis’ bunch.

But Kentucky has been struggling to shoot at home and thriving on the road all season, so even if you take away Saturday, there’s still a significant margin of difference in the shooting splits.

It’s worth noting that Kentucky doesn’t practice at Rupp and instead does so at the much smaller Joe Craft Center, so perhaps John Calipari needs to find a way to get his team some more practice shots in Rupp moving forward.

The irony in all of this is Calipari said this is one of his best shooting teams coming into the season. That’s been true when it comes to games away from Rupp, but at home, this is easily his worst shooting team.

The Wildcats can’t afford to have a repeat of Saturday when Florida and Auburn come to Rupp over the next two weeks. Heck, the rematch with Tennessee is very losable if the Cats can’t hit from deep like they did in Knoxville, where they converted 5/10 triples in a 13-point win over the Vols.

The good news is postseason games won’t be played in Rupp, so hopefully, the Cats continue to shoot well from deep away from Lexington. But something has to change if the Cats are going to win out at home and keep themselves in the running for a top-four seed in the NCAA Tournament, as well as win the SEC regular-season title.

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Author:

Jason Marcum

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