BIG BLUE FANS FOR
2010-11 Season Analytical Writings
The 2010-11 Kentucky Wildcats will be remembered in my home as the “UNCLUTCHABLES” because of their consistent inability to deliver the winning plays when the pressure is on, and the game is on the line. The past Wednesday night, these Cats lost again on the road under circumstances that should have produced a win. This is not a first time occurrence for this team on the road, and unfortunately, probably won't be the last. However, inside the last minute of play, with the ball and the lead, teams usually win. This team has found ways to lose these games, and did so again at Arkansas to fall to 19-8, 7-6 on the season.
The Florida Gators on the other hand are clearly a team that knows how to win when it must make a pressure packed play in the clutch. Therefore, the key to this rematch between the Gators and the Cats at Rupp Arena on Saturday will be whether the Cats can put enough distance between themselves and the Gators on the scoreboard, and maintain that lead to the end, or whether this game will be decided in the final few possessions of the games's last 3 minutes. If the former, the Cats will coast to its 20 th win and if the latter, the Gators will end the Cats' 32 game home winning streak and leave Lexington with another season sweep of the Wildcats and a Conference regular season Championship within its reach for the first time since they won back to back NCAA Championships.
The Cats have much more than mere pride to play for Saturday, but pride alone should be sufficient motivation for this team to at least delay the Gators' SEC gratification if not derail it. And, yes I still believe that UK has played better basketball over the course of this season than the Gators have, and I still believe the Cats are the better basketball team. I believe the Cats should win this one, but I also believe the Cats should have beaten Mississippi in Oxford, North Carolina in Chapel Hill, UConn in Maui, and Arkansas in Fayetteville. But, that is just me, and it really only matters now what did happen on those various courts.
Each team in the SEC now has 3 games remaining. The Cats can still earn that precious first round SEC Tournament Bye by winning out, but one more loss to any of the three remaining opponents will make the Bye go Bye-Bye for this team. Next up for the Cats are the Florida Gators in a rematch of the Gators' last minute win over the Cats in Gainesville. The Gators stumbled twice in SEC play prior to that first game, but since their inexplicable loss to Mississippi State, they have beaten Vanderbilt, Kentucky, South Carolina, Tennessee, LSU, and Georgia to move their season record to 22-5, 11-2. The Gators are on a roll for sure.
FLORIDA has played these games at an average pace of about 66 possessions, averaging 70.9 ppg and allowing 61.7 ppg. This translates to an offensive efficiency of 1.077 points per possession and a defensive efficiency of 0.940 ppp. FLORIDA's turnover rate has been 19.1% while they have forced turnovers at a 20.1% rate. On the Boards, FLORIDA's offensive and defensive rebounding rates have been 38.7% and 70.2% 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 63.6 ppg for efficiencies of 1.133 ppp and 0.926 ppp on the offensive and defensive ends. UK's turnover rate is 16.3% but UK only forced turnovers at a 18.3% rate. On the boards, the Cats posted rates of 35.7% and 69.5% at the offensive and defensive ends.
Kentucky's current Pomeroy SOS value is 0.7030 while FLORIDA's is 0..6508
The NGE analysis indicates a game played at a pace of about 67 possessions for the Cats and 67 possessions for the Gators, with the Cats winning for the twentieth time in twenty-eight starts this season by 12 points, 74-62. The analysis projects an offensive efficiency of 1.104 ppp and a defensive efficiency of 0.925 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 third game in a row.
The Gators win the opening tip, but the Cats draw first blood on a bank shot by Lamb. Then the teams trade scores, two three point plays for Florida and 2 baskets and a three pointer by the Cats to give the Cats an early 9-8 lead at the under 16 TV timeout with15:00 to play in the first half. Florida has made all 3 of its free throws when Lamb fouled a 3 point shooter, and UK has missed its only 2 attempts when Jones was fouled in the lane. Each team got one offensive rebound, and the Gators have committed the only turnover thus far in this game. In a short second segment, the Cats scored first to move up by 3 points, 11-8, but the Gators then ran off 5 straight to regain the lead, 13-11, at the under 12 TV timeout and the Cats in possession of the ball. The early pace is extremely slow, about 50 possessions. In the third segment, the teams traded baskets. The Gators made a basket and a 3 pointer and the Cats made 3 baskets to trim the lead to a single point, 18-17, at the under 8 TV timeout, and the Cats will have the ball again when play resumes.
In the first 12 minutes, the Cats have more field goals, a higher shooting percentage, fewer turnovers, and more rebounds, but trail because of the disparity in 3 point shooting. In the fourth segment, Florida eased back up by 3 points, 20-17, but the Cats then ran off 7 straight in response to take their biggest lead of the game, 4 points, 24-20, prompting a Florida timeout with 5:01 to play in the first half. Out of the timeout, the Gators committed their 6 th turnover, but the Cats failed to take advantage of the miscue, and Florida will be shooting the bonus, down 4, 24-20, after the under 4 TV timeout. Out of the timeout, the Gators made both free throws, and after Lamb answered to send the lead back to 4 points, the Gators ran off 5 of their own with a three pointer and a basket, prompting a UK timeout. Out of the UK timeout, Miller went to war with a back to back baskets, the last being a 3 point play, to send the Cats back up by 4 points, but Florida closed the gap at the half, as the Cats lead by 1 point, 34-33, at the half.
UK scored its 34 points with 31 possessions for the half, and FLORIDA scored its 33 points on 31 possessions. FLORIDA won the rebounding battle, 16-15, but Kentucky won the battle of the offensive rebounds 5-4. Kentucky won a 2 point advantage with the second chance points, 2-0. FLORIDA had an offensive efficiency of 1.065 ppp on its 31 first chance possessions and 0.000 ppp on its 4 second chance. Kentucky had an efficiency of 1.032 ppp on its 31 first chance possessions and 0.400 ppp on its 5 second chance possessions. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed 29.4% of its misses as offensive rebounds while FLORIDA was able to convert 29.6% of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.
UK hit 4 of its 8 free throws in the first half [50.0%]. FLORIDA hit 7-7 [100.0%] for the half. Field goal shooting for UK was 14-29 overall [48.3%] and 2-6 from long range [33.3%]. For FLORIDA, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was 7-16 [43.8%] and from long range, FLORIDA hit 4-9 [44.4%].
The Cats committed 4 turnovers, one for every 7.8 possessions. The Cats forced 7 Gator turnovers, one for every 4.4 possessions.
The Cats open the second half with a three pointer by Lamb and a Harrellson put back to stretch their lead to a game high 6 points, 39-33, and when the Gator offense on the next possession was not functioning as Donovan wanted, he called a timeout with 17:56 to play and only 14 seconds on the shot clock. Out of the timeout, the Gators tied the score again on an 8-2 run of their own. A three pointer by Knight, and a basket by the Gators, while fouled by Jones, his third, at the end of the first segment to give the Cats a 1 point lead, 44-43 at the under 16 TV timeout, and Tyus will be shooting a free throw to try to complete the 3 point play and tie the score when play resumes.
In the second segment, Florida missed the free throw, their first miss of the game, and the Cats used two second chance baskets by Harrellson, and 5-9 shooting to ease back on top by 5 points, 54-49 at the under 12 TV timeout with 11:13 to play in the game. The Gators will have the ball when play resumes. In the third segment, the Cats used 3-3 shooting, including another 3 pointer by Lamb to extend their lead to 7 points, 61-54, at the under 8 TV timeout, and the Cats in possession of the ball. Out of the timeout, the Gators took advantage of the Cats' 6 th turnover to trim the lead to 5 points, but a 3 pointer by Liggins, and a floater by Lamb established the Cats' biggest lead, 10 points, 66-56. In the remainder of the fourth segment, a Miller 3 pointers extended the Cats lead to a new high, 11 points, 69-58, at the under 4 TV timeout, and Florida will have the ball when play resumes. The Cats hang on to win by 8 points, 76-68.
UK scored its 76 points on 61 possessions for the game, and FLORIDA scored its 68 points on 61 possessions.
Kentucky won the battle of the boards 34-32, and the teams each managed to get 11 offensive rebounds but Kentucky won the second chance points battle 11-1. FLORIDA had an offensive efficiency of 1.098 ppp on its 61 first chance possessions and 0.091 ppp for its 11 second chance possessions. UK had 1.066 ppp on its 61 first chance possessions and 1.000 ppp on its 11 second chance possessions. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed 34.4% of its misses as offensive rebounds while FLORIDA was able to convert 32.4% of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.
UK hit poorly from the free throw line hitting 9-15 [60.0%]. FLORIDA made 10-13 [76.9%] for the game. Field goal shooting for UK was 30-58 overall [51.7%] and 7-14 from long range [50.0%]. For FLORIDA, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was 17-37[45.9%] and from long range, FLORIDA hit 8-19 [42.1%].
The Cats committed 7 turnovers, one for every 8.7 possessions. The Cats forced 11 FLORIDA turnovers, one for every 5.5 possessions.
Prior to the game, the NGE analysis predicted a 12 point UK win, 74-62 at a pace of 66 possessions for UK and 66 possessions for FLORIDA. The final score was 76 (74) to 68 (62) at a pace of 61 possessions for the Cats and 61 possessions for FLORIDA. The UK offensive efficiency for the game was 1.246 (B-) and the UK defensive efficiency was 1.115 ppp (E).
Next Game On Schedule: The Cats will make their last appearance of the season at Rupp to host Vanderbilt on Senior Night on Tuesday, March 1.
Submitted by Richard Cheeks
Submitted by Richard Cheeks