BIG BLUE FANS FOR
2010-11 Season Analytical Writings
Kentucky closed out the SEC portion of its season this past weekend by running the table. In the process, the Cats avenged earlier road losses by beating Mississippi and Alabama, and closed the deal with a dominating performance against regular season champion Florida. Add the regular season ending wins over Vanderbilt, Florida, and at Tennessee to this finish, and the brain trust in charge of the NCAA Tournament seedings concluded that Kentucky had slid coming down the home stretch and was only worthy of a #4 Seed, and not just any #4 Seed, but the fourth #4 Seed in the toughest regional bracket of the 2011 Tournament. Go figure; UK finished #7 according to Pomeroy's efficiency based ratings and #7 according to the NCAA's own RPI rating system. UK also finished at #10 in the final wire service polls for this season. But, Gene Smith and his band of merry men in Indianapolis obviously know better.
So UK is a #4 seed in the East Region. Other teams of note in that region with the Cats are Princeton [first up for the Cats] as winner of the Ivy League. West Virginia, the team that pulled the upset over the 2010 Cats a year ago, would probably be UK's second round opponent should both advance from the opening round. Such is the life for a 4 Seed during the opening weekend of this touirnament. Should the Cats manage to get into the Sweet 16, in all likelihood, the nations consensus #1 team will be waiting for them, and by all analytical examinations of that match up, the Cats will figure to be an underdog should it occur. But, give Coach Calipari nearly a week to prepare, and who knows what will actually occur.
Assuming for the sake of argument that the Cats get past Ohio State, then Cats would face the survivor of the bottom half of the East Bracket, probably either Washington, or North Carolina, two teams that the Cats played during their non-conference season. What a coincidence!!!!! I will leave potential final four matchups for another day, should the Cats be fortunate enough to survive this East Region.
First, and foremost in March is to survive and advance, one game at a time, and the only game that matters today through Thursday afternoon is the game against the #87 Princeton Tigers.
PRINCETON has played 31 games posting a 25-6; 13-2 record. Princeton posted a 12-4 non-conference record that included a 37 point loss at Duke in their second game of the year, and road losses to #104 James Madison by 1 and #100 Central Florida by 6. Princeton also poster a 2-1 record at neutral venues, losing to #262 Presbyterian by 2. Princeton's most impressive non-conference win was their first game of the year over #74 Rutgers by 5 in OT. During the Ivy League, Princeton posted a 12-2 record, losing at #244 Brown by 10, and splitting with regular season co-champion #77 Harvard, winning by 4 at home and losing by 12 at Harvard. That split and tie set up a one game play off game with Harvard, that Princeton won by 1 point on a last second basket to earn the Ivy League's automatic NCAA berth.
PRINCETON played these games at an average pace of about 65 to 66 possessions, averaging 69.6 ppg and allowing 63.2 ppg. This translates to an offensive efficiency of 1.068 points per possession and a defensive efficiency of 0.960 ppp. PRINCETON's turnover rate has been 19.0% while they have forced turnovers at a 18.4% rate. On the Boards, PRINCETON's offensive and defensive rebounding rates have been 31.6% and 73.1% respectively.
As a basis of comparison, UK's performance against its first thirty opponents produced 67 to 68 possessions, and a score of 76.4 to 63.8 ppg for efficiencies of 1.131 ppp and 0.944 ppp on the offensive and defensive ends. UK's turnover rate is 15.8% but UK only forced turnovers at a 18.2% rate. On the boards, the Cats posted rates of 35.2% and 69.2% at the offensive and defensive ends.
Kentucky's current Pomeroy SOS value is 0.7353 while PRINCETON's is 0.4660
The NGE analysis indicates a game played at a pace of about 67 possessions for the Cats and 66 possessions for the Tigers, with the Cats winning for the twenty-sixth time in thirty-four starts this season by 12 points, 74-62. The analysis projects an offensive efficiency of 1.104 ppp and a defensive efficiency of 0.939 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 16-6. 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 6-1. Lamb not only played against Florida on Sunday, he will return to the starting lineup today against Princeton.
Princeton won the opening tip, but missed their first 6 shots and fall behind 9-2 in the opening segment as the Cats hit 3 of 5 shots, including their only 3 point attempt and both free throws in a pace of about 65 possessions. After extending their early lead to 9 points twice, 13-4, Princeton trimmed the lead to only 3 points at 13-10 before Miller ended the run and was fouled leading to the under 12 TV timeout with the Cats up 5, 15-10, and Miller to shoot the free throw when play resumes. Miller finished the 3 point play, but Princeton made a 3 point play of their own to keep the lead at 3 points. The teams traded baskets until Princeton made its first 3 pointer of the day to tie the score, 20-20 prompting a UK timeout with 5:50 to play. Out of the timeout, Jones scored to ease the Cats back on top by a bucket, but on Princeton's next possessions, Lamb fouled the shooter, sending him to the line for a pair that he will shoot after the under 8 TV timeout with 5:01 to play in the first half. Princeton ties at 22-22, and takes their first lead at 24-22 before Jones ties the score just before the under 4 TV timeout with 3:44 to play and Princeton to shoot a pair of free throws as a result of Jones' second foul of the game. The lead traded hands a couple of more times before a Liggins 3 pointer gave the Cats a 1 point lead, 34-33, at the half.
UK scored its 34 points with 28 possessions for the half, and PRINCETON scored its 33 points on 28 possessions. Kentucky and PRINCETON fought on even terms on the rebounding battle, 13-13, and PRINCETON won the battle of the offensive rebounds 4-3. Kentucky and PRINCETON each posted 5 second chance points. PRINCETON had an offensive efficiency of 1.000 ppp on its 28 first chance possessions and 1.250 ppp on its 4 second chances. Kentucky had an efficiency of 1.036 ppp on its 28 first chance possessions and 1.667 ppp on its 3 second chance possessions. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed 25.0% of its misses as offensive rebounds while PRINCETON was able to convert 28.6% of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.
UK hit 5 of its 7 free throws in the first half [71.4%]. PRINCETON hit 5-5 [100.0%] for the half. Field goal shooting for UK was 13-24 overall [54.2%] and 3-6 from long range [50.0%]. For PRINCETON, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was 11-20 [55.0%] and from long range, PRINCETON hit 2-7 [28.6%].
The Cats committed 4 turnovers, one for every 7.0 possessions. The Cats forced 3 Tiger turnovers, one for every 9.3 possessions.
Kentucky opens play with a missed 3 pointer and after 2 Princeton misses, another Kentucky miss, and a Kentucky turnover, Princeton drains a 3 pointer to regain the lead by 2 points, prompting a quick Kentucky timeout with just over 2 minutes played in the second half. After 3 more dry trips for the Cats, the Cats regain the lead on a Harrellson 3 point play. After a Princeton miss, the Tigers committed a rebound foul at the under 16 TV timeout. However, this Kentucky lead was short lived as Princeton used poor Kentucky shooting and another Cat turnover to score 6 straight points at take their biggest lead of the day, 5 points, 42-37, forcing another Kentucky timeout with13:27 to play in the game.
Out of the timeout, Miller stopped the Tiger run, but a basket at the shot clock reestablished the 5 point lead at the under 12 TV timeout with Harrellson to shoot a pair of free throws when play resumes. Harrellson missed both attempts with 11:54 to play, down 5. However, Princeton goes cold and makes a pair of free throws allowing Kentucky to move from 5 down to up 5, 53-48, at the under 8 TV timeout with 5:38 to play in the game. Princeton trims the lead to 2 points before Harrellson gets a second chance basket and is fouled at the under 4 TV timeout with 3:58 to play. Harrellson will have one free throw when play resumes with the Cats up 4, 55-51. Harrellson missed the free throw for the 3 rd time in 4 attempts today, and Princeton gets a basket after two missed shots and two offensve rebounds to trim the lead to 2 points, 55-53 with 2:14 to play in the game. The teams trade baskets, and following a Kentucky miss, Princeton takes a timeout with 1 minutes to play, down 2 points and with the ball. Princeton ties the score at 57-57 with 0:36 to play in the game, and Kentucky takes a timeout. Knight scored with 2 seconds to play, and Princeton used its last timeout with the full length of the court between them and their basket. Princeton fails to get a shot to the rim, and the Cats survive and advance 59-57.
UK scored its 59 points on 54 possessions for the game, and PRINCETON scored its 57 points on 55 possessions.
PRINCETON won the battle of the boards, 27-25 on total rebounds and 7-6 on the offensive rebounds. PRINCETON was also able to convert its rebounding advantage into an advantage with second chance points, 9-7. PRINCETON had an offensive efficiency of 0.873 ppp on its 55 first chance possessions and 1.286 ppp for its 7 second chance possessions. UK had 0.963 ppp on its 54 first chance possessions and 1.167 ppp on its 6 second chance possessions. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed 23.1% of its misses as offensive rebounds while PRINCETON was able to convert 26.9% of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.
UK hit very poorly from the free throw line hitting 6-11 [54.5%]. PRINCETON made 6-7 [85.7%] for the game. Field goal shooting for UK was 24-47 overall 51.1%] and 5-11 from long range [45.5%]. For PRINCETON, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was 21-38[55.3%] and from long range, PRINCETON hit 3-14 [21.4%].
The Cats committed 9 turnovers, one for every 6.0 possessions. The Cats forced 7 PRINCETON turnovers, one for every 7.9 possessions.
Prior to the game, the NGE analysis predicted a 12 point UK win, 74-62 at a pace of 67 possessions for UK and 66 possessions for PRINCETON. The final score was 59 (74) to 57 (62) at a pace of 54 possessions for the Cats and 55 possessions for PRINCETON. The UK offensive efficiency for the game was 1.093 (C) and the UK defensive efficiency was 1.036 ppp (D+).
Next Game On Schedule: The Cats will play in the NCAA Tournament second round against West Virginia on Saturday.
Submitted by Richard Cheeks
Submitted by Richard Cheeks