BIG BLUE FANS FOR
2010-11 Season Analytical Writings
When the University of Kentucky Basketball office released the 2010-11 schedule way back during the dog days of August, a cursory scan was all that was necessary to identify the next seven games as the critical portion of the schedule. Starting with the Cats' trip to Alabama on Tuesday night, and extending through road game at Vanderbilt on February 12, the Cats will play five of seven games on the road. [Road games at Alabama, South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida and Vanderbilt] In addition, the Cats will play home games against red-hot Georgia and against Tennessee in Bruce Pearl's first game back on the bench following his eight SEC game suspension. These seven games will define the 2011 SEC season for this group of Cats. The Cats will exit that sequence of games either a team riding a cresting wave toward another SEC Championship or they will be a wounded team, needing to use the final 3 weeks of the season to heal before the post season arrives.
It is easy to look ahead at any sequence of games and prognosticate and pontificate that the Cats SHOULD win them all, or should lose no more than one of the next 7 games. That is what I see when I peer into that old crystal ball, but the players do the hard work in practice and the games within those white lines, day after day, game after game, opponent after opponent. Would have, could have, should have is what fans lament after its over, but what the team actually does is what the games and seasons are all about.
It's showtime folks!!!
The Cats handled LSU in their final tune up for this grueling sequence of games. The 38 point victory is the first time since the Cats dismantled a very good Louisville team on December 31 that this team has performed above its average levels. It is time for them to focus on the task at hand, and turn on those after burners.
First up will be the Alabama Crimson Tide in Tuscaloosa. ALABAMA and GEORGIA HAVE PLAYED about the same quality of basketball thus far in the 2010-11 season. Just as the Cats learned the hard way at Georgia, Alabama will not be an easy victory at their place again this season.
ALABAMA has played seventeen games posting a record of 10-7; 2--1. Their most impressive win has been by 10 over #79 South Carolina this past week. ALABAMA's losses have been at #6 Purdue by 19, at #63 Oklahoma State by 8, at #84 Arkansas by 5, at #78 Providence by 12. ALABAMA also lost back to back games to #76 Seton Hall and #77 Iowa by 5 and 8 points both on a neutral court.
ALABAMA has played these games at an average pace of about 67 possessions, averaging 67.5 ppg and allowing 56.8 ppg. This translates to an offensive efficiency of 1.004 points per possession and a defensive efficiency of 0.839 ppp. ALABAMA's turnover rate has been 21.9% while they have forced turnovers at a 23.0% rate. On the Boards, ALABAMA's offensive and defensive rebounding rates have been 36.6% and 68.5% respectively.
As a basis of comparison, UK's performance against its first six opponents produced 69 to 70 possessions, and a score of 80.0 to 61.9 ppg for efficiencies of 1.151 ppp and 0.891 ppp on the offensive and defensive ends. UK's turnover rate is 15.7% but UK only forced turnovers at a 18.4% rate. On the boards, the Cats posted rates of 36.6% and 71.7% at the offensive and defensive ends.
Kentucky's current Pomeroy SOS value is 0.6800 while ALABAMA's is 0.4545.
The NGE analysis indicates a game played at a pace of about 69 possessions for the Cats and 68 possessions for the Crimson Tide, with the Cats winning for the fifteenth time in eighteen starts this season by 5 points, 69-64. The analysis projects an offensive efficiency of 1.000 ppp and a defensive efficiency of 0.941 ppp.
After 15 games with the same starting lineup, Coach Calipari continues with Lamb in the starting five for the third game in a row, with Jones coming off the bench. Against Alabama, Coach Calipari starts Knight, Lamb, Miller, Liggins, and Harrellson. There is little doubt that Jones 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.
The Cats open with the first 5 points, and expand their lead to as many as 6 points during the opening segment. At the under 16 TV timeout, the lead stands at 4 points, 12-8, and the Cats will have possession when play resumes. The early shooting has been 5-10 for the Cats and 3 of 9 for the Tide, but Alabama has gotten 4 free throws, and Kentucky none in the early going. Both teams have grabbed 3 offensive rebounds and committed 2 turnovers. In the second segment, the Cats failed to push the lead back to 6 points, and Alabama trimmed the lead to 2 points at the under 12 TV timeout. Alabama will have the ball when play resumes. Out of the timeout, Alabama scores 6 points on 4 possessions to convert a 2 point deficit into a 4 point Alabama lead, forcing Calipari to take a timeout to get Vargas out of the game with the score 19-15 with 9:30 to play in the first half. Over the last 1 ½ minutes of the third segment the teams trade baskets, but Liggins committed his second foul of the half on the Bama basket leading into the under 8 TV timeout. When play resumes, Alabama will be shooting a free throw to complete the 3 point play and a chance to ease the lead out to 5 points.
In the fourth segment, the teams traded baskets until following a Lamb basket to trim the Alabama lead to 3 points, 30-27, Alabama scored the next 4 points, and will have possession when play resumes following the under 4 TV timeout with 1:57 to play, and Bama leading by a game high 7 points, 34-27. The teams each score 3 points in the abbreviated final segment and Alabama leads by 7 points, 37-30 at the half.
UK scored its 30 points with 33 possessions for the half, and ALABAMA scored its 37 points on 33 possessions. ALABAMA won the rebounding battle, 21-18, and ALABAMA won the offensive glass 10-9. ALABAMA used their offensive rebounding advantage to generate a 4 point advantage with the second chance points, 8-4. ALABAMA had an offensive efficiency of 0.879 ppp on its 33 first chance possessions and 0.800 ppp on its 10 second chances. Kentucky had an efficiency of 0.788 ppp on its 33 first chance possessions and 0.444 ppp on its 9 second chance possessions. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed 45.0% of its misses as offensive rebounds while ALABAMA was able to convert 52.6% of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.
UK hit 6 of its 8 free throws in the first half [75.0%]. ALABAMA hit 3-5 [60.0%] for the half. Field goal shooting for UK was 11-31 overall [35.5%] and 2-10 from long range [20.0%]. For ALABAMA , their field goal shooting from inside the arc was 11-23 [47.8%] and from long range, ALABAMA hit 4-10 [40.0%].
The Cats committed 7 turnovers, one for every 4.7 possessions. The Cats forced 8 AUBURN turnovers, one for every 4.1 possessions.
Kentucky opens the second half with a turnover and a missed dunk, while Alabama scored the half's first 4 points to extend their lead to 11 points, 41-30 prompting a UK timeout with 18:45 to play in the game. The timeout did no good to stop the Alabama onslaught, and after another 4 straight points, Kentucky calls their second time out of the second half, trailing by 15, 45-30 with 17:15 to play. Before the whistle stops play for the first scheduled media timeout, the Cats are down by 18 points, 50-32.
Late in the first half, the Cats trailed by 3 points, 30-27, and since that point, Alabama has out scored the Cats 20-5. In the second segment, the Bama lead grew to a full 20 points, 52-32 before the Cats began to score again, trimming the lead to 13 points, 56-43, before Alabama made its 7 th three pointer of the game to go back up by 16 points, 59-43 at the under 12 TV timeout with 11:08 to play in the game. The difference in this game is the offensive rebounding and second chance points, coupled with Bama's 7-13 shooting from outside the arc. In the third segment, the Cats continued to whittle away at the Alabama lead, trimming the lead back into single digits for the first time since Alabama hit a 3 pointer to extend their 38-30 lead to 41-30 within the first 75 seconds of the second half, and the score now stands at 59-50 at the under 8 TV timeout and Alabama will have the ball when play resumes.
The Cats continue their charge at the Tide, trimming the lead to 4 points, 61-57 prompting an Alabama timeout with 5:03 to play in the game. After the timeout, the Cats cut another pair off the lead to trail by only 2 points, 61-59, at the under 4 TV timeout and Alabama will be shooting the bonus when play resumes.
The Cats trimmed the lead to 1 point, and stopped Alabama with 1:02 to play. However, a charging foul on Knight with 40 seconds to play failed to give the Cats their first lead since early in the game. Alabama charged with 10.8 seconds to play to turn the ball over to the Cats for a chance to win the game on the last possession. Alabama steals a pass, and Kentucky fouls with 2.5 seconds to play. Alabama made the first and missed the seoond, and Kentucky called timeout with 2.5 seconds to play and needing to take the ball the length of the floor and score to either tie the game or win the game with a 3 pointer. The last ditch play fails, and the Cats fall by 2 points, 68-66.
UK scored its 66 points on 64 possessions for the game, and ALABAMA scored its 68 points on 64 possessions.
ALABAMA won the boards, with a rebounding edge 40-34, and ALABAMA and Kentucky fought to even terms on the offensive glass 19-19. ALABAMA won the second chance points battle 20-14. ALABAMA had an offensive efficiency of 0.750 ppp on its 64 first chance possessions and 1.053 ppp for its 19 second chance possessions. UK had 0.812 ppp on its 64 first chance possessions and 0.737 ppp on its 19 second chance possessions. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed 47.5% of its misses as offensive rebounds while ALABAMA was able to convert 55.9% of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.
UK hit poorly from the free throw line in this game, making 13-22 [59.1%]. ALABAMA made 11-17 [64.7%] for the game. Field goal shooting for UK was 23-60 overall [38.3%] and 7-20 from long range [35.0%]. For ALABAMA, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was 18-42[42.9%] and from long range, ALABAMA hit 7-14 [50.0%].
The Cats committed 12 turnovers, one for every 5.3 possessions. The Cats forced 19 ALABAMA turnovers, one for every 3.4 possessions.
Prior to the game, the NGE analysis predicted a 5 point UK win, 69-64 at a pace of 69 possessions for UK and 68 possessions for ALABAMA. The final score was 66 (69) to 68 (64) at a pace of 64 possessions for the Cats and 64 possessions for ALABAMA. The UK offensive efficiency for the game was 1.031(B-) and the UK defensive efficiency was 1.063 ppp (D-).
Next Game On Schedule: The Cats will travel to South Carolina on Saturday, January 22.
Submitted by Richard Cheeks
Submitted by Richard Cheeks