BIG BLUE FANS FOR
2010-11 Season Analytical Writings
According to Ken Pomeroy, the Kentucky Wildcats have played the second most difficult schedule through their first 7 games, and the level of difficulty for their next event will not detract from that high standing. Who has played the most difficult schedules other than the Cats thus far this season? Other than the Cats, the top 10 schedules belong to Miami, Ohio; Butler; Idaho State; Long Beach State; North Carolina; Fresno State; Texas A&M Corpus Christie; South Alabama; and Southeastern Louisiana,. Of these, only UNC and UK are part of the royalty of college basketball.
The Cats have scratched and clawed their way through this early test of fire to a 5-2 start, and their performance in those seven games, coupled with the strength of that schedule has been sufficient to secure the #8 ranking by the very same Ken Pomeroy as of this morning. Yet, some members of the Big Blue Nation are ready to abandon this season, hit the panic button on Coach Calipari, and “wait until next year.” Hogwash to all of those thoughts.
Does that mean that the Cats are now ready to blow and go through the rest of their schedule without any further disappointing loses? Of course not, and their next game, against undefeated Notre Dame could produce their 3 rd loss in the last four games, and be the first time that a Calipari coached team has lost back to back ball games in 6 years. Coming off their first road game into a hostile venue against a quality team and a traditional power program with a loss, the schedulers might have anticipated this situation and give these young Cats a home game to regroup. A home game so they could take a collective breath before jumping right back into the fire of this early schedule. But, not so, and their 8 th game will be at Freedom Hall against a solid, undefeated Notre Dame team in the SEC-Big East Invitational.
NOTRE DAME has played eight games without a defeat. Notre Dame's most impressive win in this early season was by 7 points over #10 Wisconsin at a neutral site. The only other opponent of interest to the Cats is a 6 point win over Georgia in double overtime also at a neutral location.
NOTRE DAME has played these games at an average pace of about 69 possessions, averaging 81.8 ppg and allowing 62.0 ppg. This translates to an offensive efficiency of 1.178points per possession and a defensive efficiency of 0.898 ppp. NOTRE DAME's turnover rate has been 15.9% while they have forced turnovers at a 15.7% rate. On the Boards, NOTRE DAME's offensive and defensive rebounding rates have been 38.4% and 75.8% respectively.
As a basis of comparison, UK's performance against its first six opponents produced 70 possessions, and a score of 78.3 to 65.7ppg for efficiencies of 1.123 ppp and 0.931 ppp on the offensive and defensive ends. UK's turnover rate is 16.8% but UK only forced turnovers at a 17.2% rate. On the boards, the Cats posted rates of 36.5% and 69.7% at the offensive and defensive ends.
Kentucky's current Pomeroy SOS value is 0.8088 while NOTRE DAME's is 0.4515
he NGE analysis indicates a game played at a pace of about 70 possessions with the Cats winning for the sixth time in eight starts this season by 3 points, 73-70. The analysis projects an offensive efficiency of 1.058 ppp and a defensive efficiency of 1.000 ppp.
For the eighth game in a row, Coach Calipari will start Knight, Jones, Miller, Liggins, and Harrellson. There is little doubt that Lamb will be the first player off the bench, followed by Vargas. After those top 7 players, no one can predict whether Hood or Poole will get any significant minutes again tonight.
The Cats open by hitting 4 of their first 8 shots, including 2 out of 3 three pointers to sprint out to an early 6 point lead, 12-6 at the under 16 TV timeout. Notre Dame only made 2 of their first 6 shots in the segment. The pace, early in the game, is in the mid 70s range. During the initial segment, Harrellson fouled a 3 point shooter, 23 feet from the basket, and on Notre Dame's first possession after the timeout, Harrellson committed his second foul, bumping a driver. The 6 point lead was short lived as Hansbrough hit 3 three pointers in the second segment to trim the lead to only 1 point, 19-18, at the under 12 TV timeout and ND will have the ball when play resumes.
In the first 8 minutes, the pace has settled into the 70s range, and ND has scored 18 points on its 14 possessions for an efficiency of 1.286 ppp while the Cats has scored 19 points on 14 possessions, 1.357 ppp. Out of the timeout, ND moves into the lead 20-19, and after the Cats draw even on 1 of 2 Jones' free throws, ND runs off 5 straight points, the last 3 on Hansbrough's 4 th three pointer, prompting a UK timeout with 10:24 to play, down 5 points. ND extended the lead to a maximum of 7 points, 27-20, and the teams traded baskets for the remainder of the segment, with ND holding the 5 point lead, 29-25 at the under 8 TV timeout and ND in possession of the ball when play resumes.
With 6:40 to play and down 4, Liggins picked up his second foul and had to go to the bench. Hansbrough burned the Cats on the next trip with his 5 th three pointer. A put back basket expanded the lead to 9 points, and after Hood committed its 2 nd foul, ND's free throws gave the Irish their biggest lead at 11 points, 38-27 with 4:44 to play in the first half. However, the Cats fight back to cut the deficit to 6 points, 38-32 at the under 4 TV timeout with 3:22 to play in the half. In that comeback effort, Stacey Poole made his first points as a Wildcat on a badly needed 3 pointer, and ND committed 3 turnovers.
The Cats have possession when play resumes. The Cats catch up at 40-40 with 49 seconds to play in the first half. The half ended with the 40-40 tie.
UK scored its 40 points in a total of 32 possessions for the half, and NOTRE DAME scored its 40 points on a total of 33 possessions. The teams battled on even terms on the boards, 14-14 and Kentucky won the battle of the offensive boards, 5-3, but ND won the battle of the second chance points, 5-3. NOTRE DAME had an offensive efficiency of 1.061ppp on its 33 first chance possessions and 1.667 ppp for its 3 second chance possessions. UK had 1.156 ppp on its 32 first chance possessions and 0.600 ppp on its 5 second chance possession. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed a weak 31.3% of its misses as offensive rebounds while NOTRE DAME was able to convert an only 25.0% of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.
UK hit 6 of its 8 free throws in the first half [75.0%]. NOTRE DAME also was less effective from the line, making 7-10 [70.0%] for the half. Field goal shooting for UK was 15-30 overall [50.0%] and 4-9 from long range [44.4%]. For NOTRE DAME, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was strong, 9-15 [60.0%] and from long range, NOTRE DAME University hit 5-10 [50.0%]. Hansbrough made all 5 of ND's three pointers or 6 attempts, and the rest of the ND team was 0-4 from long range.
The Cats committed 3 turnovers, one for every 10.7 possessions. The Cats forced 5 NOTRE DAME turnovers, one for every 5.5 possessions.
The Cats scored the first 6 points of the second half to match their largest lead of the game, 46-40, prompting a ND timeout with 16:54 to play. Out of the timeout, Hansbrough converts a pair of free throws to trim the lead back to 4 points, and a walk by Liggins ends the opening segment at the under 16 TV timeout. ND will have the ball when play resumes. In the second segment, the Cats moved up by a game high 7 points, 49-42, but ND stopped the run with a basket. Jones was fouled following an offensive rebound at the under 12 TV timeout and Jones will be at the line for a pair of free throws when play resumes with the Cats up 49-44.
Jones made one of his shots, and a Knight 3 pointer extends the Cats' lead to a game high 9 points, 53-44 prompting another ND timeout with 9:51 to play in the game. After ND trimmed the lead back to 7 points, a Liggins three pointer lifted the Cats by 10 points, 56-46. A ND three pointer near the end of the segment trimmed the lead back to 7 points 56-49 at the under 8 TV timeout, and the Cats will be shooting the bonus when play resumes. Miller makes one of the two, and ND gets back to back baskets to cut the lead back to 6 points, 57-51, prompting Coach Calipari to call a Kentucky timeout with 5:27 to play in the game.
Out of the timeout, the Cats miss, and ND gets to the line for a pair to trim the lead to only 4 points. A three pointer by Jones eased the lead back to 7 points, but ND made a basket, and after another Cat miss, ND was fouled at the under 4 TV timeout with the Cats up 5, 60-55, and ND will be shooting free throws when play resumes with a chance to trim the one time 10 point lead to only 3 points with 3:48 to play in the game. The teams played out the final segment with the Cats getting a 14 point victory, 72-58.
UK scored its 72 points in a total of 64 possessions for the game, and NOTRE DAME scored its 58 points on a total of 65 possessions.
Kentucky won the boards, with a rebounding edge 43-34, and Kentucky won the battle of the offensive glass 13-10. Kentucky won the second chance points battle 10-7. NOTRE DAME had an offensive efficiency of 0.785 ppp on its 65 first chance possessions and 0.700 ppp for its 10 second chance possessions. UK had 0.969 ppp on its 64 first chance possessions and 0.769 ppp on its 13 second chance possessions. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed a strong 35.1% of its misses as offensive rebounds while NOTRE DAME was able to convert 25.6% of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.
UK hit well from the free throw line in this game, making 17-22 [77.3%]. NOTRE DAME made 12-20 [60.0%] for the game. Field goal shooting for UK was 23-57 overall [40.4%] and 9-24 from long range [37.5%]. For NOTRE DAME, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was a strong 14-32 [43.8%] and from long range, NOTRE DAME hit 6-23 [26.1%].
The Cats committed 9 turnovers, one for every 7.1 possessions. The Cats forced 10 NOTRE DAME turnovers, one for every 6.5 possessions.
Prior to the game, the NGE analysis predicted a 3 point UK win, 73-70 at a pace of 69 possessions for UK and 70 possessions for NOTRE DAME. The final score was 72 (73) to 58 (70) at a pace of 64 possessions for the Cats and 65 possessions for NOTRE DAME. The UK offensive efficiency for the game was 1.125 (B-) and the UK defensive efficiency was 0.892 ppp (B-).
Next Game On Schedule: December 11 agaiinst Indiana at Rupp Arena.
Submitted by Richard Cheeks
Submitted by Richard Cheeks