BIG BLUE FANS FOR
2010-11 Season Analytical Writings
Three weeks ago, after the Cats breezed by a badly over matched LSU team at Rupp Arena, everyone knew that the Cats had finished grabbing the low hanging fruit and that wins would be more difficult as the focus shifted to road games for 5 of the next 7 and 4 of the next 5 games. Yes, life has been tough, probably tougher for these Cats than expected, and the Cats have lost 2 of the first 4 games in that critical sequence with three games against the other three SEC East contenders over the next 10 days, at Florida, home against Tennessee, and at Vandy. With the losses to Alabama and Mississippi, the prospects for the 2011 SEC season now is as bleak as it could get, and there is no more margin for error if the Cats are to win the SEC in 2011.
While all fans understand that life on the road is difficult at best, few fans expected losses at Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi in the first 7 SEC games of the year. Most fans would have admitted that an expectation to have won all of these games, and the game at South Carolina may have been unreasonable, but to lose 3 of those 4 was outside the realm of reasonable outcomes. But, that is exactly what has happened. And, with road games at Vandy, Tennessee, Arkansas, and Florida remaining over the last nine games, the optimism about the future road outcomes is fragile at best.
The Cats must confront their demons at Florida on Saturday, and that will be a tall order given that the Gators will be ready to take the battle to the Cats, just like Alabama, Mississippi and Georgia have done with great success and effectiveness. The Book on these Cats is being written by opponents who do just that. The Book is that these Cats back down, refuse to reciprocate, and can't finish.
The match up with the Gators in Gainesville is as much a pick ‘em game as I have seen. The NGE analysis indicates this match up is dead even. The Cats have an advantage on offense, on defense, and with their schedule strength, but these advantages in the aggregate are not enough to overcome Florida's home court advantage. When I look at the numbers under a magnifying glass, the Cats get an edge by a mere fraction of a point, as noted below
Florida has played twenty-two games posting a record of 17-5; 6-2. The Gators managed to win 11 of its 14 non-conference games, and since the beginning of SEC play, Florida has won 6 of its 8 games. They have 3 SEC road wins to their credit, at #46 Tennessee by 6 in OT, at Auburn by 5, and at Georgia by 13 in double OT. However, the Gators have one home loss to #103 South Carolina by 3. The Gators' non-conference losses have been to #1 Ohio State by 18, #88 Central Florida by 3, and to #145 Jacksonville by 3 in OT. Florida's most impressive non-conference wins have been by 4 at #41 Florida State, by 13 over #48 Kansas State, and by 4 at #56 Xavier.
FLORIDA has played these games at an average pace of about 66 possessions, averaging 71.1 ppg and allowing 61.6 ppg. This translates to an offensive efficiency of 1.070 points per possession and a defensive efficiency of 0.934 ppp. FLORIDA's turnover rate has been 19.2% while they have forced turnovers at a 19.8% rate. On the Boards, FLORIDA's offensive and defensive rebounding rates have been 39.4% and 70.1% respectively.
As a basis of comparison, UK's performance against its first six opponents produced 69 possessions, and a score of 77.5 to 62.4 ppg for efficiencies of 1.122 ppp and 0.902 ppp on the offensive and defensive ends. UK's turnover rate is 16.5% but UK only forced turnovers at a 18.8% rate. On the boards, the Cats posted rates of 35.6% and 70.1% at the offensive and defensive ends.
Kentucky's current Pomeroy SOS value is 0.6775 while Florida's is 0.6190
The NGE analysis indicates a game played at a pace of about 68 possessions for the Cats and 68 possessions for the Gators, with the Cats winning for the seventeenth time in twenty-two starts this season by 1 points, 69-68. The analysis projects an offensive efficiency of 1.015 ppp and a defensive efficiency of 1.000 ppp.
For the first 15 games, the same starting lineup posted a 12-3 record, but the loss to Florida was enough for Coach Calipari to make a change, sitting Jones and moving Lamb into a starting role. Since he made that change, his Cats are 2-1, beating very weak Auburn and LSU at Rupp but losing again on the SEC road, this time at Alabama. Coach Calipari returned to his original starting lineup for the South Carolina game, and that lineup now has a record of 14-4. Against FLORIDA, Coach Calipari starts Knight, Jones, Miller, Liggins, and Harrellson. There is little doubt that Lamb will be the first player off the bench, followed by Vargas. In the Georgia game, Hood did not make an appearance for the first time all season, and Poole and Polson remained on the bench as well.
The Cats open by hitting their first 3 shots and sprint out to a 6-0 lead before the teams settled into the boxing match that this game figured to be, with the Cats leading by 5, 10-5, at the under 16 TV timeout with 15:01 to play. In the opening segment, each of the Wildcat starters scored a basket, hitting 5 of 8 shots. The pace is in the upper 60s to low 70s range. Out of the timeout, the Cats missed all three shots and turned the ball over 3 times in the second segment, as the Gators took advantage of the sloppy play and took their first lead of the game, 11-10, at the under 12 TV timeout.
In the third segment, the Cats used 4-6 shooting, including 2-2 from long range to move back on top by 3 points, 21-18, and by 1 point, 21-20 at the under 8 TV timeout with 6:58 to play in the first half. The Gators will have the ball when play resumes as Harrellson picked up his second foul on a rebound just prior to the TV timeout. Out of the timeout, the Gators moved back in front by 3 points with back to back baskets, and after the Cats trimmed the lead back to a point, Miller committed his second foul and Parsons converted only one of them to move out by 2 points. Terrence Jones responded with a 3 point play to move the Cats back into the lead. Vargas put the Cats back up by 3 on a put back basket, but a Gator basket, a turnover by Knight, and a foul by Knight left the UK lead at a single point, 28-27, at the under 4 TV timeout with 3:11 to play and Florida shooting the bonus when play resumes.
Out of the timeout, Florida made both free throws, and Lamb missed an open layup. At the other end, Florida scored from inside to take another 3 point lead, 31-28. Coach Calipari called a timeout. The Cats missed, and the Gators drained a three pointer to give the Gators their biggest lead, 6 points, 34-28.However, the Cats scored the last 4 points of the half, including a buzzer beating jump shot from the baseline by Hood to end the first half with the Gators up 2 points, 34-32.
UK scored its 32 points with 32 possessions for the half, and FLORIDA scored its 34 points on 32 possessions. UK won the rebounding battle, 19-17, but the teams each managed to get 4 offensive rebounds and Kentucky won 3 point advantage with the second chance points, 6-3. FLORIDA had an offensive efficiency of 0.969 ppp on its 32 first chance possessions and 0.750 ppp on its 4- second chances. Kentucky had an efficiency of 0.812 ppp on its 32 first chance possessions and 1/500 ppp on its 4 second chance possessions. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed 33.5% of its misses as offensive rebounds while FLORIDA was able to convert 21.1% of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.
UK hit 2 of its 3 free throws in the first half [66.7%]. FLORIDA hit 5-8 [62.5%] for the half. Field goal shooting for UK was 14-30 overall [46.7%] and 2-3 from long range [66.7%]. For FLORIDA, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was 10-20 [50.0%] and from long range, FLORIDA hit 3-9 [33.3%].
The Cats committed 5 turnovers, one for every 6.4 possessions. The Cats forced 3 Gator turnovers, one for every 10.7 possessions.
The Gators open the second half making their first 4 shots, and a pair of free throws to outscore the Cats 11-4 and run their lead to 9 points, 45-36 prompting a UK timeout with 16:35 to play. Out of the timeout, Jones made 1 of 2 free throws, but the Cats rebounded the miss, and will have possession when play resumes after the under 16 TV timeout, down 8, 45-37. In the second segment, the Gators extended their lead to 10 points, 52-42, and the Gators will have 3 free throws when play resumes after the timeout.
The Gators move out by 13 points after making all three from the line. However, the Cats responded with defense and outscored the Gators 14-3 over the balance of the third segment to trim the lead to 2 points, 58-56 at the under 8 TV with 7:11 to play in the game, and the Cats will have the ball. In the fourth segment, the Cats regained the lead by 3 points, 64-61, but a put back basket and a turnover by the Cats trimmed the lead to 1 point, 64-63 at the under 4 TV timeout, and the Gators will be shooting free throws when play resumes with 3:01 to play in the game.
The Gators regained the lead with both free throws, but Knight sank two of his own with 2:05 to play to put the Cats back on top by a point, 66-65. On the next rrip for the Gators, Harrellson fouled out of the game. After Florida makes both free throws to move up by a point, Jones misses inside, and Florida scores to go back up by 3 points, 69-66 with 1 minute to play. Jones makes a layup to trim the lead back to 1 point with 41 seconds to play. The Cats foul Parsons with 13 seconds to play. Parson missed the first, and made the second, and a Knight 3 pointer for the win at the buzzer was short of the mark. Cats lose 70-68.
UK scored its 68 points on 65 possessions for the game, and FLORIDA scored its 70 points on 65 possessions.
Kentucky and Florida battled on even terms on the boards, 32-32, FLORIDA won the offensive glass 7-6. FLORIDA won the second chance points battle 9-6. FLORIDA had an offensive efficiency of 0.938 ppp on its 65 first chance possessions and 1286 ppp for its 7 second chance possessions. UK had 0.954 ppp on its 65 first chance possessions and 1.000 ppp on its 6 second chance possessions. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed only 19.4% of its misses as offensive rebounds while FLORIDA was able to convert 21.2% of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.
UK hit very well from the free throw line in this game, making 11-13 [84.5%]. FLORIDA made 18-22 [81.8%] for the game. Field goal shooting for UK was 25-54 overall [46.3%] and 7-12 from long range [58.3%]. For FLORIDA, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was 17-34[50.0%] and from long range, FLORIDA hit 6-19 [31.6%].
The Cats committed 11 turnovers, one for every 5.9 possessions. The Cats forced 9 FLORIDA turnovers, one for every 7.2 possessions.
Prior to the game, the NGE analysis predicted a 1 point UK win, 69-68 at a pace of 68 possessions for UK and 68 possessions for FLORIDA. The final score was 70 (68) to 68 (69) at a pace of 65 possessions for the Cats and 65 possessions for FLORIDA. The UK offensive efficiency for the game was 1.050 (B-) and the UK defensive efficiency was 1.077 ppp (D+).
Next Game On Schedule: The Cats will Host Tennessee at Rupp on Tuesday, February 8.
Submitted by Richard Cheeks
Submitted by Richard Cheeks