2010-11 Season Analytical Writings

The Cats Open The 2011 SEC Season At Georgia

For Kentucky basketball, the SEC Season is when they must demonstrate two abilities that even a tough non-conference schedule usually does not demand. First, the team must prove worthy of travelling into some very hostile arenas in which the biggest game of any year is the night that their team gets to try to defeat the Kentucky Wildcats. Second, the team must prove worthy of sustaining a high level of play once every 3 to 4 days because for the next 9 weeks, the schedule provides little time to relax and reflect. The time for improvement has come and gone, and now it is show time in the SEC.

On the road in the SEC is not an easy task for any of the 12 SEC teams. Historically, the home team wins about 2/3 of all SEC regular season games. The average home court advantage in the SEC for SEC games is about +7 to +8 points for the home team. That is a 14 to 16 point swing, and a team that is 7 to 8 points superior on a neutral court to the opponent will tend to struggle on the road against that same team. Going into this SEC season, UK has established itself as the superior team, but the theoretical neutral court margins between the pack leader, UK, and other SEC teams is only 4 points for Vandy, 8 points for Florida, and 12 to 12 ½ points for Tennessee and Mississippi. These four road games pose the greatest risk for the Cats moving forward. The theoretical margin between UK and its first SEC opponent Georgia is 16 points.

GEORGIA has played thirteen games posting a record of 11-2. Their most impressive wins have been by 9 over #72 Colorado, by 2 over #66 UAB, and by 1 at #88 Georgia Tech. GEORGIA's losses have been to #25 Notre Dame by 6 points on a neutral court in double overtime, and by 7 to #29 Temple also on a neutral court.

GEORGIA has played these games at an average pace of about 67 possessions, averaging 69.2 ppg and allowing 62.5 ppg. This translates to an offensive efficiency of 1.038 points per possession and a defensive efficiency of 0.934 ppp. GEORGIA's turnover rate has been 20.5% while they have forced turnovers at a 22.4% rate. On the Boards, GEORGIA's offensive and defensive rebounding rates have been 38.7% and 65.1% respectively.

As a basis of comparison, UK's performance against its first six opponents produced 69 possessions, and a score of 80.7 to 62.7 ppg for efficiencies of 1.165 ppp and 0.903 ppp on the offensive and defensive ends. UK's turnover rate is 16.2% but UK only forced turnovers at a 17.9% rate. On the boards, the Cats posted rates of 37.3% and 72.5% at the offensive and defensive ends.

Kentucky's current Pomeroy SOS value is 0.7129 while GEORGIA's is 0.5177.

The NGE analysis indicates a game played at a pace of about 68 possessions for the Cats and 68 possessions for the Dawgs, with the Cats winning for the thirteenth time in fifteen starts this season by 8 points, 73-65. The analysis projects an offensive efficiency of 1.074 ppp and a defensive efficiency of 0.956 ppp.

Game Summary:

For the fifteenth 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 seven players, Coach Calipari has said that Poole has moved up on the depth chart and will be getting Hood's minutes as the season moves forward.

Kentucky opens with 2 misses and 2 turnovers while Georgia makes their first 2 shots to break out to a quick 4-0 lead, prompting Coach Calipari to call a quick timeout with 18:25 to play in the first half. Out of the timeout, another miss and another turnover are converted into another 3 Georgia points, for an 7-0 start to this game. The Cats then hit back to back 3 pointers to trim the lead to 7-6, but a pair of Georgia free throws give the Dawgs a 9-6 lead at the under 16 TV timeout. When play resumes, the Cats will have the ball. In the opening 4 minutes, each team had a blazing 9 possessions. Out of the time out, Lamb made a 3 point play on the give and go with Harrellson to tie the score at 9-9.

After the teams trade baskets, Tompkins makes a 3 point play to send the Dawgs back up by 3 points, 14-11. The teams trade baskets to an 18-15 score at the under 12 TV timeout, and Georgia will be shooting 1 free throw to complete the three point play when play resumes. The pace for the first 8 minutes continues at an uncharacteristic 90 range, and Georgia has scored its 18 points on 18 possessions, while the Cats have only managed 15 points on theirs. Georgia converts their free thow, and Miller makes 2 at the other end to trim the lead back to 2 points, 19-17. Following the free throws, the Cats apply pressure, forcing a Georgia timeout. The pace of play begins to slow in the third segment, but not the pace of scoring, as the teams battle toe to toe and trade baskets for the segment, with Georgia maintaining a 4 point lead, 28-24, at the under 8 TV timeout. Georgia will have the ball when play resumes.

Both teams have committed 3 turnovers and the Cats hold a 3-2 early lead on the offensive glass, but the teams have both managed 4 second chance points. After the Cats trim the Georgia lead to 2 points, Jones picked up his 2 nd foul on a charge. When the score was tied at 11, Harrellson missed a pair of free throws, and with the score 28-26, Liggins missed a pair that would have tied the score. Then Knight missed the front end of the bonus, as the Cats continue to trail, now by 6, 32-26 at the under 4 TV timeout. The Cats fell behind 7-0 at the outset, and have essentially played on even terms ever since. Georgia has been able to take the ball into the paint and score thus far.

Out of the timeout, a UK turnover is converted into a 3 pointers at the other end to give the Dawgs their biggest lead, 9 points, 35-26, and Georgia continues to keep the pressure on the Cats by extending their lead to 11 points, 41-30, at the half.

UK scored its 30 points with 36 possessions for the half, and GEORGIA scored its 41 points on 35 possessions. Georgia won the rebounding battle, 21-17 and the Cats won the offensive glass 7-5. Kentucky used their offensive rebounding advantage to generate a 2 point advantage with the second chance points, 8-6. GEORGIA had an offensive efficiency of 1.171 ppp on its 35 first chance possessions and 1.200 ppp on its 5 second chances. Kentucky had an efficiency of 0.611 ppp on its 36 first chance possessions and 1.143 ppp on its 7 second chance possession. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed 30.4% of its misses as offensive rebounds while GEORGIA was able to convert 33.3% of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.

UK hit 3 of its 8 free throws in the first half [37.5%]. GEORGIA hit 11-12 [91.7%] for the half. Field goal shooting for UK was 12-32 overall [37.5%] and 3-8 from long range [37.5%]. For GEORGIA, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was 12-24 [50.0%] and from long range, GEORGIA hit 2-5 [40.0%].

The Cats committed 7 turnovers, one for every 5.1 possessions. The Cats forced 6 GEORGIA turnovers, one for every 5.8 possessions.

Second Half:

For only the second time this season, the Cats are in serious trouble at the half, trailing Georgia by 11 points, and Georgia will have the first possession of the second half. The other time occurred when the Cats trailed UConn by 20 points in Maui at halftime. The Cats draw first blood in the second half, but that are not able to draw any closer than 9 points during the opening segment as the teams trade baskets for the balance of the second to a 47-38 score at the under 16 TV timeout. Out of the timeout, the Cats score to trim the lead to 7 points, but on the next trip Jones commits his 3 rd foul. The Cats then score 5 straight to trim the lead to only 2 points, 47-45 prompting another Georgia timeout with 13:19 to play in the game.

Out of the timeout, Georgia turns it over on an offensive foul, and Liggins then makes a pair of free throws to tie the score with 12:32 to play. The teams then traded baskets for the remainder of the segment to a 53-53 tie at the under 12 TV timeout with 10:33 to play in the game and Georgia in possession of the ball. Out of the tmeout, Georgia eases back into a 2 point lead, but Jones' 3 point play on the next possession gives the Cats their first lead of the game, 56-55 with 10:00 to play. After another Georgia turnover, the Cats failed to score on multiple opportunites, and the sequence ends with Jones getting his 4 th foul on a rebound. Then Georgia hits a 3 pointer to move back on top by 2 points, 58-56 at the under 8 TV timeout and Georgia has possession of the ball.

In the 4 th segment, Georgia continues to play from the lead, taking the lead to 3 points, 62-59 at the under 4 TV timeout with 3:14 to play in the game. Georgia will be shooting a pair of free throws when play resumes.

Georgia makes both free throws, and after a Kentucky miss, Georgia makes another basket to stretch their lead to 7 points, 66-59, with about 2 ½ minutes to play in the game. After another miss, Liggins fouled out of the game with 2:23 to play. The more the Cats miss down the stretch, the more they must foul Georgia, and Georgia just keeps making their free throws at almost a 90% rate for the game when they have only shot 62% for the season from the line prior to this game, and the final score is 77-70.


UK scored its 70 points in a total of 72 possessions for the game, and GEORGIA scored its 77 points on a total of 71 possessions.

Georgia won the boards, with a rebounding edge 41-37, and Kentucky won the battle of the offensive glass 14-7. Kentucky won the second chance points battle 14-8. GEORGIA had an offensive efficiency of 0.972 ppp on its 71 first chance possessions and 1.143 ppp for its 7 second chance possessions. UK had 0.770 ppp on its 72 first chance possessions and 1.000 ppp on its 14 second chance possessions. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed a weak 29.2% of its misses as offensive rebounds while GEORGIA was able to convert 23.3% of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.

UK hit poorly from the free throw line in this game, making 10-16 [62.5%]. GEORGIA made 30-34 [88.2%] for the game. Field goal shooting for UK was 27-71 overall [38.0%] and 6-20 from long range [30.0%]. For GEORGIA, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was 19-40[47.5%] and from long range, GEORGIA hit 3-9 [33.3%].

The Cats committed 8 turnovers, one for every 9.0 possessions. The Cats forced 13 GEORGIA turnovers, one for every 5.5 possessions.

Prior to the game, the NGE analysis predicted a 8 point UK win, 73-65 at a pace of 68 possessions for UK and 68 possessions for GEORGIA. The final score was 70 (73) to 77 (65) at a pace of 72 possessions for the Cats and 71 possessions for GEORGIA. The UK offensive efficiency for the game was 0.972 (D+) and the UK defensive efficiency was 1.085 ppp (D-).

Next Game On Schedule: The Cats will return to Rupp Arena to play Auburn on Tuesday, January 11.

Submitted by Richard Cheeks


Submitted by Richard Cheeks


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