BIG BLUE FANS FOR
2010-11 Season Analytical Writings
Last week the Cats won back to back SEC games at Rupp Arena against Mississippi State and South Carolina to ease out to a tenuous 7-5 conference record. Against Mississippi State, a slow start and a late lapse allowed MSU to stay within striking distance to the end, but on Saturday night, the Cats put South Carolina away early and impressively, getting a 31 point win. On Wednesday night, the Cats will take their new found intensity and sense of urgency on the road to Fayetteville to take on John Pelphrey's Hogs.
So far this season, the Cats have not put three consecutive SEC wins together a single time, so a win on the road Wednesday would not only signal a solidified team set for a strong finish, but a team that may be hitting its stride. The Cats may have found their intensity a little late for sure, but better late than never.
Each team in the SEC now has 4 games remaining, 2 at home for each and 2 on the road for each. Clearly, Alabama and Florida have earned a lock hold on the #1 seeds from the west and east divisions, and the final 2 weeks will be a fight to the end for the #2 spots in each division. The race in the west appears to be between Mississippi and Mississippi State, and a tie will go to State based on their season sweep of the Reb's. In the East, the race has narrowed to Vandy and Kentucky, and at present, if both teams run out the final 4 games as anticipated, Kentucky will prevail unless the Cats lose 2 of their final 3 games not involving Vandy, or lose to Vandy at Rupp..
First up for the Cats are the Arkansas Razorbacks on Wednesday.
The Hogs breezed through a relatively easy non-conference schedule with 11 wins and 3 losses. Their 3 non-conference losses came by 5 points in OT to #56 UAB, by 9 points to # 44 Texas A&M on a Neutral floor, and by 34 points at #4 Texas. Arkansas' most impressive non-conference win has been by 9 points over #61 Seton Hall. Once SEC play began, the Hogs encountered a significantly more difficult slate of opponents, and have finished the first 12 games with a 5-7 record. However, included in their wins are wins over #33 Alabama by 5, #52 Tennessee by 3, and at #25 Vanderbilt by 11. However, among their losses is an embarrassing 3 point loss at #219 LSU and at home to #75 Mississippi. As a result of the 16-10; 5-7 record, Kentucky favorite son John Pelphrey is squarely sitting on a Hog Hot Seat.
ARKANSAS has played these games at an average pace of about 70 possessions, averaging 70.7 ppg and allowing 65.1 ppg. This translates to an offensive efficiency of 1.006 points per possession and a defensive efficiency of 0.930 ppp. ARKANSAS's turnover rate has been 19.2% while they have forced turnovers at a 21.9% rate. On the Boards, ARKANSAS's offensive and defensive rebounding rates have been 28.8% 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 77.7 to 63.8 ppg for efficiencies of 1.133 ppp and 0.930 ppp on the offensive and defensive ends. UK's turnover rate is 16.5% but UK only forced turnovers at a 18.5% rate. On the boards, the Cats posted rates of 35.1% and 70.2% at the offensive and defensive ends.
Kentucky's current Pomeroy SOS value is 0.6987 while ARKANSAS's is 0.5052
The NGE analysis indicates a game played at a pace of about 69 possessions for the Cats and 69 possessions for the Razorbacks, with the Cats winning for the twentieth time in twenty-seven starts this season by 6 points, 72-66. The analysis projects an offensive efficiency of 1.043 ppp and a defensive efficiency of 0.957 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, but Liggins came off the bench. Coach Calipari starts Knight, Jones, Miller, Lamb, and Harrellson, and Liggins will come off the bench for the second game in a row.
Kentucky won the opening tip, but Arkansas drew first blood, and hit their first 4 shots, including 2 three pointers, to race out to a 12-7 lead at the under 16 TV timeout. Arkansas will have the ball when play resumes. Out of the timeout advanced the lead to 14-7. A Clark 3 pointer advanced the Razorback lead to 8 points, 17-9, at the under 12 TV timeout and the Hogs in possession of the ball. Out of the timeout, the Cats convert 2 Arkansas missed shots into baskets at the other end to trim the lead to 4 points, 17-13, prompting an Arkansas timeout with 11:19 to play. The timeout stopped the UK mini-run, and Arkansas worked the remainder of the segment to send the lead back to 8 points on two occasions, 23-15 and 25-17 before Kentucky trimmed the lead back to 6 points, 25-19 at the under 8 TV timeout with 6:40 to play, and Miller scheduled to shoot one free throw when play resumes.
In the 4 th segment, the Cats moved into their first lead of the game on a 3 pointer by Liggins to lead 28-27 at the under 4 TV timeout with 2:54 to play in the first half. When play resumes, Arkansas will have the ball under its basket with 1 second on the shot clock. Arkansas made a layup on the inbounds play with the 1 second on the shot clock to regain the lead. At the other end, a tie up with 2 seconds left on UK's shot clock but the Cats do not convert their chance. The teams played out the first half with the Hogs maintaining a 2 point lead, 34-32 at the half.
UK scored its 32 points with 32 possessions for the half, and ARKANSAS scored its 21 points on 32 possessions. ARKANSAS won the rebounding battle, 21-19, and ARKANSAS won the battle of the offensive rebounds 7-5. However, Kentucky won a 4 point advantage with the second chance points, 8-4. ARKANSAS had an offensive efficiency of 0.938 ppp on its 32 first chance possessions and 0.571 ppp on its 7 second chance. Kentucky had an efficiency of 0.750 ppp on its 32 first chance possessions and 1.600 ppp on its 5 second chance possessions. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed 26.5% of its misses as offensive rebounds while ARKANSAS was able to convert 33.3% of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.
UK hit 4 of its 4 free throws in the first half [100.0%]. ARKANSAS hit 3-4 [75.0%] for the half. Field goal shooting for UK was 13-32 overall [40.6%] and 2-11 from long range [18.2%]. For ARKANSAS, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was 11-25 [44.0%] and from long range, ARKANSAS hit 3-10 [30.0%].
The Cats committed 4 turnovers, one for every 8.0 possessions. The Cats forced 3 Hog turnovers, one for every 10.7 possessions.
The Cats open the second half with a quick score to tie the score, and after an Arkansas 3 pointer puts the Hogs back on top by 3 points, the Cats run off the final 7 points of the segment to take their biggest lead, 4 points, 41-37, at the under 16 TV timeout, and the Cats will have the ball when play resumes. On the inbounds play, Liggins scores to give the Cats a 6 point lead, 43-37, but the Hogs answer with 10 straight to take a 4 point lead of their own, 47-43 with 13:37 to play in the game. Those 10 points included 7 free throws by Clark, 3 from a three point attempt foul, 2 from a shooting foul, and 2 more from a technical upon Liggins after the shooting foul noted previously. The Hogs capped their run with a 3 point play prompting a UK timeout. The Cats stop the run after the timeout, but the Cats' inability to get a rebound after 4 consecutive Hog misses will give Arkansas possession after the under 12 TV timeout with a 2 point lead, 47-45.
In the third segment, Arkansas eased back on top by 5 points, 50-45, but the Cats caught up at 51-51, and again at 53-53 before a Hog 3 pointer, and a Cat 2 pointer produced a 1 point Arkansas lead at the under 8 TV timeout with 7:16 to play and the Cats in possession. Out of the timeout, the Cats scored to take a 1 point lead, and the teams traded scores and the lead to a 61-60 UK lead at the under 4 TV timeout and Arkansas in possession of the ball.
Out of the timeout, Clark hits a three pointer and is fouled for a 4 point play that puts Arkansas up 3 points, 64-61. After the teams trade baskets, Calipari calls a timeout with 3:02 to play in the game. After Arkansas went up by 3 points for the third time, 68-65, a Miller 3 pointer tied the score 68-68 with 1:59 to play, and Arkansas takes a timeout to play their final 2 minutes of the game. Arkansas missed and Knight made the basket to put the Cats on top by 2 points, 70-68 with 1:03 to play, and Arkansas took another timeout. Arkansas scores on a second chance to tie the score at 70 and send this game into overtime.
In overtime, the Cats took the early lead, and held the lead and the ball with less than 1 minute to play when a Knight turnover gave Arkansas the lead, and the win, 77-76.
UK scored its 76 points on 62 possessions for the game, and ARKANSAS scored its 77 points on 62 possessions.
Kentucky won the battle of the boards 46-43, but ARKANSAS won on the offensive glass 22-19. Kentucky won the second chance points battle 20-18. ARKANSAS had an offensive efficiency of 0.952 ppp on its 62 first chance possessions and 0.818 ppp for its 22 second chance possessions. UK had 0.903 ppp on its 62 first chance possessions and 1.052 ppp on its 19 second chance possessions. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed 47.5% of its misses as offensive rebounds while ARKANSAS was able to convert 44.9% of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.
UK hit very well from the free throw line hitting 13-15 [86.7%]. ARKANSAS made 14-18 [77.8%] for the game. Field goal shooting for UK was 30-71 overall [42.3%] and 3-19 from long range [15.8%]. For ARKANSAS, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was 21-52[40.4%] and from long range, ARKANSAS hit 7-21 [33.3%].
The Cats committed 8 turnovers, one for every 7.8 possessions. The Cats forced 8 ARKANSAS turnovers, one for every 7.8 possessions.
Prior to the game, the NGE analysis predicted a 6 point UK win, 72-66 at a pace of 69 possessions for UK and 69 possessions for ARKANSAS. The final score was 76 (72) to 77 (66) at a pace of 62 possessions for the Cats and 62 possessions for ARKANSAS. The UK offensive efficiency for the game was 1.226 (A) and the UK defensive efficiency was 1.242 ppp (E).
Next Game On Schedule: The Cats return to Rupp to host SEC East leading Florida on Saturday, February 26.
Submitted by Richard Cheeks
Submitted by Richard Cheeks