Kentucky put together their best all-around game in their 86-52 win over South Carolina on February 4. Terrence Jones dominated the first half, scoring all 16 of his points in the first 20 minutes. He added six rebounds and four assists to his final stat line.
It was obvious that when Jones was aggressive, Kentucky as a team was better on offense. But how much better? More importantly, how much does Terrence Jones' play affect Kentucky's win margin?
In this article, I researched (via ESPN.com's team statistics) just how much Kentucky's margin of victory was affected by Terrence Jones and the other five players that have started games for John Calipari, when they score more than 15 points in a game.
I have double-checked every statistic, but if you see any errors feel free to let me know.
Terrence Jones has been a topic of discussion all year. First, he was previewed as a candidate for NCAA Player of the Year as well as preseason SEC Player of the Year. In the six games "post-Watford," Jones fell apart and just looked lost. It was clear that he wasn't himself.
He has fluctuated since, peaking in games against South Carolina and LSU, but wallowing in mediocrity in games at Tennessee and Georgia.
In both games against South Carolina, he has been visibly more aggressive compared to games against other opponents. If he stays on the offensive, Kentucky is near impossible to beat.
In the nine games where Jones scored 15 or more points, Kentucky's margin of victory is 24.6 points. In the 15 games where Jones scored less than 15 points, the margin of victory drops to 16.4 points per game.
This difference of 8.2 points per game is topped by only one other Wildcat.
Doron Lamb is that Wildcat. When he scores over 15 points per game, Kentucky dominates opponents with a 26.3 point margin of victory. In the games where he scores less than 15, Kentucky wins by 17.6 points per game, for a team-leading 8.7 point difference.
Surprised? Me too.
This shows that Lamb is very involved in Kentucky's offense. He is the only consistent outside threat for the Wildcats, averaging 46.1 percent on three-point shots. Without Lamb on the floor, Kentucky's offense loses that threat and teams can play zone and pack the lane.
John Calipari needs Lamb for his shooting skill. Lamb has only scored over 15 points in eight games this year—fourth on the team. He can score in any way imaginable—he is great off the dribble, can catch-and-shoot and has a superb floater around the rim. He's the most important scorer on Kentucky's team.
Anthony Davis is the player that I thought would lead Kentucky in point differential when he scores 15-plus points in a game simply because of his sheer dominance. Kentucky's margin of victory when he breaks this barrier is 23.4 points, just five points more than the margin of victory of 18.4 points per game when he fails to reach 15 points.
It is interesting to note that in the four games where Davis acquired four or more fouls, Kentucky's margin of victory was 6.25 points. From this, it is clear that Davis needs to be on the floor for Kentucky to hold comfortable leads.
Davis doesn't need to score points for Kentucky to decimate opponents. His mere existence on defense helps Kentucky win games—offense is an added bonus.
Another hotbed of discussion thus far has been the play of Marquis Teague. It has been well documented that Teague is not John Wall or Brandon Knight. Good to know.
Teague's scoring doesn't impact Kentucky's margin of victory as much as Wall or Knight's scoring would have. In the four games where he scored 15 plus, Kentucky's margin of victory is 21.5 points per game. In the 20 games where he didn't score 15, the margin of victory slips to 20.3 points per game.
Where Teague impacts the game is in his decision-making. When he posted a positive assist-to-turnover ratio, Kentucky averaged a margin of victory of 22.75 points. If his assist-to-turnover ratio was in the red (or even), then Kentucky's margin of victory drops to 16.0 points per game.
Teague has yet to eclipse nine assists in a game. It will be interesting to see how well he plays against guard-heavy teams like Vanderbilt and Florida in the future.
When he asserts himself, Darius Miller is as good as anyone on this Kentucky team. To the dismay of Kentucky fans, he doesn't.
Miller has had five games of 15 or more points, and in those games Kentucky has a 22.6-point margin of victory. In games where Miller scored less than 15, the margin of victory for the Cats drops to 19.9 points per contest.
Miller's role on this team is not set in stone. He fills any cracks of this team by stepping up when needed, where needed. He can lead the team in points just as easily as rebounds or assists.
Like Darius Miller, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist does whatever it takes for this Kentucky team to win. He has scored over 15 points ten times this year (20.6-point margin of victory), and in the 14 games under 15 points per game, Kentucky's margin of victory is 19.9 points per game.
Kidd-Gilchrist affects the game in more ways than just scoring. He can score three points and have the same influence on a game compared to a 15-plus point performance.
His bold play can be seen through his team-leading 122 free throw attempts. He attacks on offense even if he's not shooting well, giving Kentucky great balance when he is on the court.
These statistics show that Kentucky is an incredibly balanced team. Kentucky's margin of victory is 20.5 points per game. A discrepancy in a margin of victory of 26.3 points instead of 17.6 is large, but Kentucky still wins by a satisfactory amount.
Margin of victory is not the end all, be all statistic. It is merely a tool to see how well Kentucky performs when specific players break a boundary, in this case, points. Moreover, points do not tell the whole story. This is exemplified in Anthony Davis, where his fouls obviously play a much larger role in Kentucky's play.
Because the Wildcats are such a dominant defensive team, some players will have an impact on the game even if they don't score 15 points.
John Calipari has the satisfaction of knowing that he has scorers at every position on the court, and when one is having an off night, another will step up. It also helps that this Kentucky team is great from the stripe: 22.7 percent of the Wildcats' points come from the line, where they hit 71.4 percent of their shots.
Moving forward, these statistics show that Terrence Jones and Doron Lamb need to assert themselves. Anthony Davis should keep doing what he's doing and stay out of foul trouble. Marquis Teague must continue to improve. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Darius Miller will continue to create matchup problems and do the little things to help Kentucky win.