BIG BLUE FANS FOR
2010-11 Season Analytical Writings
A year ago, with Josh Harrellson clearly the only rising senior for the 2010-11 season, I wondered whether Senior Night for UK Basketball would take a diminished placed in the traditional events of this season. However, I should be chastised for even entertaining such a thought because Josh has played his way into the hearts of the entire Big Blue Nation this season with his effort and leadership. Tuesday night, Josh Harrellson will be honored before the Rupp Arena faithful with his family present. The emotions that flow from this ceremony each year seem to get the best of even the most jaded Big Blue Fan and the most hardened basketball players, and the ceremony this year should be no different.
This ceremony is tradition, but the game is the business of the day. Vanderbilt comes into Rupp with a one game lead over the Cats for that precious #2 seed in the East for the SEC Tournament. This game is large measure is for that first round bye because if these teams end the season in a tie, the Cats will win the tie breaker, having won more games against the SEC East teams than Vandy. If Vandy wins on Tuesday night, they will secure the #2 spot regardless of the outcome of the final games this coming weekend. Even if the Cats win, Vandy can still get the #2 spot with a UK loss at Tennessee coupled with a Vandy win over Florida in Nashville in the final games of the season.
The Cats took care of business this past Saturday against League leading Florida, beating them at Rupp by 8 points. Next up is Vandy, the team that defeated the Cats in Nashville in February by 4 points on the strength of strong 3 point shooting, and offensive rebounding that produced 17 second chance points for the Commodores. Since that meeting in Nashville, the Cats have won 3 of 4 games, with the only loss at Arkansas by 1 in overtime. Vandy has also won 3 of their 4 games since beating UK, with their only loss coming at the hands of Tennessee in Nashville.
VANDERBILT has played these games at an average pace of about 70 possessions, averaging 77.1 ppg and allowing 66.8 ppg. This translates to an offensive efficiency of 1.102 points per possession and a defensive efficiency of 0.956 ppp. VANDERBILT's turnover rate has been 19.7% while they have forced turnovers at a 18.1% rate. On the Boards, VANDERBILT's offensive and defensive rebounding rates have been 33.4% and 68.1% respectively.
As a basis of comparison, UK's performance against its first twenty eight opponents produced 68 possessions, and a score of 77.1 to 64.5 ppg for efficiencies of 1.136 ppp and 0.942 ppp on the offensive and defensive ends. UK's turnover rate is 16.2% but UK only forced turnovers at a 18.3% rate. On the boards, the Cats posted rates of 35.6% and 69.4% at the offensive and defensive ends.
Kentucky's current Pomeroy SOS value is 0.7079 while VANDERBILT's is 0..6799
The NGE analysis indicates a game played at a pace of about 69 possessions for the Cats and 69 possessions for the Commodores, with the Cats winning for the twenty-first time in twenty-nine starts this season by 11 points, 77-66. The analysis projects an offensive efficiency of 1.114 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 fourth game in a row.
After Vandy claimed the first possession, the Cats drew first blood on a runner by Lamb, and after the inbounds pass, the Cats trap Tinsley in the corner forcing Vandy to burn a timeout after only 1 minute. The teams traded baskets to a 4-4 tie, but the Cats scored the last 4 points of the opening segment to ease out to a 4 point lead, 8-4, at the under 16 TV timeout. Vandy will be in possession when play resumes. In the opening segment, the Cats have hit 4 of 9 shots while Vandy 2 of 7. Both teams have 2 offensive rebounds and 2 second chance points, but Vandy has committed 3 early turnovers to the Cats' 1 turnover.
In the second segment, the Cats used 5 more offensive rebounds to score all 8 of their points in the segment as second chance points, and ease their lead to a fragile 5 points, 16-11 at the under 12 TV timeout. As with the last break, Vandy will have the ball when play resumes. Through the first 8 minutes, each team has had 14 possessions, a pace of 70 possessions for the game. In the prolonged third segment, the Cats used 2-3 shooting from the arc [Liggins and Jones] to extend their lead to 8 points, 25-17, at the under 8 TV timeout with 6:30 to play in the first half. Out of the timeout, the Cats extended their lead to 12 points, 29-17, and after trading baskets twice, the Cats then extended the lead to 15 points, 36-21, forcing the second Vandy timeout with 3:48 to play in the half. Out of the timeout, Vandy goes inside to Ezeli for a basket and one at the under 4 TV timeout with 3:23 to play and the Cats up 36-23 with Vandy to shoot the free throw when play resumes.
The pace of this game through the first 16 to 17 minutes is at a pace of about 65 possessions. The Cats had scored 36 points on just 26 possessions, while holding Vandy to 23 points on 27 possessions. Through 40% of the game, this is Kentucky's best effort in several weeks. After the Cats reestablish their 15 point lead, Vandy scores 5 straight to trim the lead to 10 points, 38-28, prompting a Kentucky timeout with 1:11 to play in the first half. The Cats take an 11 point lead to the locker room, 40-29, at the half.
UK scored its 40 points with 31 possessions for the half, and VANDERBILT scored its 29 points on 32 possessions. Kentucky won the rebounding battle, 19-18, and Kentucky won the battle of the offensive rebounds 8-5. Kentucky won a 10 point advantage with the second chance points, 12-2. VANDERBILT had an offensive efficiency of 0.844 ppp on its 32 first chance possessions and 0.400 ppp on its 5 second chance. Kentucky had an efficiency of 0.903 ppp on its 31 first chance possessions and 1.500 ppp on its 8 second chance possessions. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed 38.1% of its misses as offensive rebounds while VANDERBILT was able to convert 31.3% of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.
UK hit 6 of its 8 free throws in the first half [75.0%]. VANDERBILT hit 5-8 [62.5%] for the half. Field goal shooting for UK was 15-34 overall [44.1%] and 4-8 from long range [50.0%]. For VANDERBILT, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was 12-23 [52.2%] and from long range, VANDERBILT hit 0-3 [0.0%].
The Cats committed 1 turnover, one for every 31.0 possessions. The Cats forced 8 Commodore turnovers, one for every 4.0 possessions.
The Cats open with a turnover and two misses, and Vandy converted at the other end 2 of the 3 times to trim the one time 15 point lead to only 7 points, 40-33, forcing a quick Kentucky timeout with 18:15 to play in the game. After the Cats go back up by 11 at 44-33, Vandy then runs 7 straight to trim the lead to 44-40 at the under 16 TV timeout. The Cats will have the ball when play resumes. In this opening 4 minutes, Vandy hit 5-9 shots, including their first 3 pointer of the game while the Cats managed only 2 of 8 shooting.
Out of the timeout, the Cats reassert their control of the game with an 11-2 run forcing another Vandy timeout with 12:41 to play in the game and the Cats up by 13 points, 55-42. Vandy stopped the run to trim the lead to 11 points at the under 12 TV timeout with 11:55 to play. Out of the timeout, Vandy outscored the Cats 12-2 in the third segment to trim the lead to a single point, 57-56 at the under 8 TV timeout with the Cats in possession, and 7:33 to play in the game. The Cats' defense has become porous since the 6:30 mark of the first half to the present, and if they intend to win this game they must find the defensive effectiveness that they used to establish that 15 point first half lead, and 11 point half time lead.
In the fourth segment, Vandy outscores the Cats 4-2 to take their first lead of the game, 60-59 with 4:20 to play in the game. Kentucky takes a timeout. The Cats fail to score, and Vandy has the ball at the under 4 TV timeout with 3:29 to play. The teams trade baskets and the lead to the 50 second mark, when Jones misses the second of two free throws to keep the Kentucky lead at 1 point, 64-63. Vandy's shot was blocked out of bounds with 23 seconds to play, and 7 seconds on the shot clock. Harrellson steals the inbounds pass, and is fouled with 20 seconds to play. On the inbounds play, Jones gets the pass, and Vandy fouls him immediately. Jones made both free throws, and Vandy scores a basket with 8.6 seconds to play with a 1 point lead, 66-65. The Cats get the inbounds pass to Knight, and Vandy immediately fouls. After he makes both free throws, Calipari takes a timeout to set his defense. After the timeout, UK fouled Tinsley to send him to the line for the bonus, and the Cats up 3 points with 6.7 seconds to play. He makes the first, and intentionally misses the second, but Vandy knocks the ball out of bounds on the rebound with 4.2 seconds to play. The Cats get the ball to Jones in the corner, and he walks with 1.1 seconds to play, giving Vandy the ball in their offensive corner. But the inbounds pass fails, and the Cats hang on to win by 2 points, 68-66.
UK scored its 68 points on 64 possessions for the game, and VANDERBILT scored its 66 points on 64 possessions.
VANDERBILT won the battle of the boards 36-34, and VANDERBILTwon the offensive rebounds 13-12. However, Kentucky won the second chance points battle 18-12. VANDERBILT had an offensive efficiency of 0.844 ppp on its 64 first chance possessions and 0.923 ppp for its 13 second chance possessions. UK had 0.781 ppp on its 64 first chance possessions and 1.500 ppp on its 12 second chance possessions. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed 34.3% of its misses as offensive rebounds while VANDERBILT was able to convert 37.1% of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.
UK hit well from the free throw line hitting 14-17 [82.4%]. VANDERBILT made 12-17 [70.6%] for the game. Field goal shooting for UK was 25-59 overall [42.4%] and 4-10 from long range [40.0%]. For VANDERBILT, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was 24-47[51.1%] and from long range, VANDERBILT hit 2-11 [18.2%].
The Cats committed 9 turnovers, one for every 7.1 possessions. The Cats forced 12 VANDERBILT turnovers, one for every 5.3 possessions.
Prior to the game, the NGE analysis predicted a 11 point UK win, 77-66 at a pace of 69 possessions for UK and 69 possessions for VANDERBILT. The final score was 68 (77) to 66 (66) at a pace of 64 possessions for the Cats and 64 possessions for VANDERBILT. The UK offensive efficiency for the game was 1.060 (D+) and the UK defensive efficiency was 1.031 ppp (D+).
Next Game On Schedule: The Cats will make final regular season appearance on Sunday, March 6 at Tennessee.
Submitted by Richard Cheeks
Submitted by Richard Cheeks