BIG BLUE FANS FOR
2010-11 Season Analytical Writings
On Tuesday night, the Kentucky Wildcats managed to get by a Pesky Mississippi State team by 6 points in a game marked by a lackadaisical start and finish with a period of dominance sandwiched in between. Over the first 10 minutes of the game, MSU outscored the sleep walking Cats 24-13. Over the next 26 minutes, the Cats dominated the Bulldogs and outscored them 70-56 to transform the 11 point deficit into a 13 point lead. However, over the final 4 minutes, the Cats returned to sleep walk mode, and rather than finish the game with a 15 to 20 point victory, MSU outscored the Cats 9-2 to close the gap to a mere 6 points at the final buzzer.
Yes, a win is a win, and this game is one for the “W” column just as much as the four 2-point losses all go into that dreadful “L” column. However, the same absence of intensity and urgency, the same inability to close a game on a strong note appeared even though the game ended as a win. It is this absence of intensity and urgency, this inability to close a game, that has been disturbing to most of the Big Blue Nation over the last 6 weeks.
On Saturday, the Cats get another opportunity to demonstrate that these ways of the past are truly in the past, and that this team is prepare for a strong push to the finish line of the 2011 SEC season. That opportunity will occur when they entertain the South Carolina Gamecocks at Rupp Arena, the same USC team that has provided the Cats' only road win to date in the SEC this season, a 9 point victory in Columbia on January 22, 2011.
When UK visited South Carolina a month ago, South Carolina had won 3 of its first 4 SEC games including wins at home over Arkansas and Vandy, and an impressive road win over Florida. Their only SEC loss in the early going was to the same Alabama team that had also handled the Cats prior to the Columbia meeting. However, the Cats reversed the Gamecock fortunes it would appear, and including their loss to UK, USC has lost 6 of their last 7 SEC games, with their only win coming at the hands of LSU in Baton Rouge. Therefore, USC enters the game in Lexington this Saturday with an overall record of 13-11, and 4-7 in the SEC.
SOUTH CAROLINA has played these games at an average pace of about 70-71 possessions, averaging 69.1 ppg and allowing 68.5 ppg. This translates to an offensive efficiency of 0.979 points per possession and a defensive efficiency of 0.972 ppp. SOUTH CAROLINA's turnover rate has been 19.9% while they have forced turnovers at a 21.3% rate. On the Boards, SOUTH CAROLINA's offensive and defensive rebounding rates have been 36.5% and 65.5% respectively.
As a basis of comparison, UK's performance against its first twenty four opponents produced 69 possessions, and a score of 77.2 to 64.0 ppg for efficiencies of 1.164 ppp and 0.932 ppp on the offensive and defensive ends. UK's turnover rate is 16.5% but UK only forced turnovers at a 18.7% rate. On the boards, the Cats posted rates of 34.9% and 70.4% at the offensive and defensive ends.
Kentucky's current Pomeroy SOS value is 0.7090 while SOUTH CAROLINA's is 0.6173
The NGE analysis indicates a game played at a pace of about 70 possessions for the Cats and 70 possessions for the Gamecocks, with the Cats winning for the nineteenth time in twenty-six starts this season by 21 points, 80-59. The analysis projects an offensive efficiency of 1.143 ppp and a defensive efficiency of 0.843 ppp.
For the first 15 games, the same starting lineup posted a 12-3 record, but the loss to Georgia 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 went 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 15-6. After one game with Miller coming off the bench following his injury, Miller returns to the starting lineup for the South Carolina game. However, Coach Calipari starts Knight, Jones, Miller, Lamb, and Harrellson, sitting Liggins for the first time this year.
The Cats open the game hitting 3 of their first 7 shots, and rebounded 2 of their 4 misses to sprint out to an early 8-0 lead, prompting a quick USC timeout. However, the Cats hit back to back three pointers to extend the lead to 14-0 at the under 16 TV timeout with 15:02 to play in the first half. The Cats will have the ball when play resumes. In the second segment, USC scored its first two baskets, but the Cats outscored them 8-4 in the segment to extend the 14 point lead to 18 points, 22-4 at the under 12 TV timeout and the Cats in possession of the ball.
In the opening 8 minutes, the Cats have hit 7 of 12 shots, and rebounded 3 of their 5 misses. Included in that shooting is 4-4 from outside the arc, and 4-5 from the free throw line. USC has made 2 of 10 shots, and has missed all 5 of their 3 point attempts. USC has not taken a free throw yet in this game. In the extended 3 rd segment, USC made back to back 3 pointers and scored a total of 8 points, but the Cats again outscored them by 4 points to send the lead out to 22 points, 34-12 at the under 8 TV timeout with 6:45 to play. Knight will be shooting the bonus from the line when play resumes.
In the fourth segment, the Cats continue their dominance, outscoring USC 7-3 to extend their lead to 26 points, 41-15, forcing USC to take another timeout with 4:50 to play in the first half. However, the timeout does not stop the onslaught, as the Cats lead by 28, 43-15, at the under 4 TV timeout. The pace of play through 16 minutes has been slow, about 60 to 65 possessions. The Cats have used their 25 possessions to put up 43 points while the Cats have limited USC's offensive production to just 15 points in 24 possessions. In the final segment, the Cats again added to their lead to make it 29 points, 50-21, at the half.
UK scored its 50 points with 32 possessions for the half, and MISSISSIPPI STATE scored its 21 points on 32 possessions. Kentuckyk won the rebounding battle, 25-17, but MISSISSIPPI STATE won the battle of the offensive rebounds 11-8. However, Kentucky won a 2 point advantage with the second chance points, 11-9. MISSISSIPPI STATE had an offensive efficiency of 0.375 ppp on its 32 first chance possessions and 0.818 ppp on its 11 second chance. Kentucky had an efficiency of 1.219 ppp on its 32 first chance possessions and 1.375 ppp on its 8 second chance possessions. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed 53.3% of its misses as offensive rebounds while MISSISSIPPI STATE was able to convert 33.3% of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.
UK hit 12 of its 15 free throws in the first half [80.0%]. MISSISSIPPI STATE hit 2-2 [100.0%] for the half. Field goal shooting for UK was 16-29 overall [55.2%] and 6-7 from long range [85.7%]. For MISSISSIPPI STATE, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was 5-24 [20.8%] and from long range, MISSISSIPPI STATE hit 3-13 [23.1%].
The Cats committed 4 turnovers, one for every 8.0 possessions. The Cats forced 5 Bulldog turnovers, one for every 6.4 possessions.
After the Cats score the first points of the half on a basket by Knight, and a three pointer by Miller put the Cats up 55-23, USC ran off 9 straight points off 3 UK turnovers to trim the lead to 23 points, 55-32, prompting a UK timeout with 16:56 to play in the game. Out of the timeout, Lamb ended the USC run and Miller then hit another 3 pointer to send the Cats back on top by 28 points, 60-32, at the under 16 TV timeout with 15:22 to play and Lamb scheduled to get a pair of free throws when play resumes.
In the second segment, the Cats reestablished their largest lead, 32 points, 64-32, but USC then outscored the Cats 9-4 over the balance of the segment to trim the lead to 27 points, 68-41, at the under 12 TV timeout. Jones will be shooting a free throw to complete the 3 point play after the timeout. In an extended 3 rd segment, the Cats saw USC trim the lead to 28 points but back to back 3 pointers sent the lead up to a game high 34 points, 81-47, and 32 points at the under 8 TV timeout with 6:55 to play and Knight due to shoot the bonus when play resumes.
In the fourth segment, the Cats traded baskets with USC to maintain its lead at 33 points, 88-55, at the under 4 TV timeout with 3:07 to play and Jones to get a pair of free throws after the break. The teams play out the final 3 minutes and the Cats win by 31, 90-59.
UK scored its 90 points on 67 possessions for the game, and SOUTH CAROLINA scored its 59 points on 66 possessions.
Kentucky won the battle of the boards 42-34, and UK and USC fought on even terms on the offensive glass 14-14. Kentucky won the second chance points battle 15-13+. SOUTH CAROLINA had an offensive efficiency of 0.697 ppp on its 66 first chance possessions and 0.929 ppp for its 14 second chance possessions. UK had 1.119 ppp on its 67 first chance possessions and 1.071 ppp on its 14 second chance possessions. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed 41.2% of its misses as offensive rebounds while SOUTH CAROLINA was able to convert 33.3% of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.
UK hit very well from the free throw line hitting 21-27 [77.8%]. SOUTH CAROLINA made 9-14 [64.3%] for the game. Field goal shooting for UK was 29-58 overall [50.0%] and 11-20 from long range [55.0%]. For SOUTH CAROLINA, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was 16-41[39.0%] and from long range, SOUTH CAROLINA hit 6-23 [26.1%].
The Cats committed 10 turnovers, one for every 6.7 possessions. The Cats forced 10 SOUTH CAROLINA turnovers, one for every 6.6 possessions.
Prior to the game, the NGE analysis predicted a 21 point UK win, 80-59 at a pace of 70 possessions for UK and 70 possessions for SOUTH CAROLINA. The final score was 90 (80) to 59 (59) at a pace of 67 possessions for the Cats and 66 possessions for SOUTH CAROLINA. The UK offensive efficiency for the game was 1.340 (A) and the UK defensive efficiency was 0.894 ppp (D+).
Next Game On Schedule: The Cats to Arkansas on Wednesday, February 23.
Submitted by Richard Cheeks
Submitted by Richard Cheeks