BIG BLUE FANS FOR
2010-11 Season Analytical Writings
One year ago, when the NCAA announced the brackets, most fans quickly identified that the #1 Seeded Cats' greatest obstacle to a trip to the Final Four would be the West Virginia Mountaineers, and the Mountaineers proved to be an obstacle in the Cats' path that the 2010 Cats could not overcome. West Virginia ended Kentucky's season in 2010. On Sunday, when the NCAA announced the 2011 brackets, a second round matchup between the Cats and the Mountaineers jumped off the page as just as imposing a task for the Cats as last year's Elite Eight Matchup proved to be. In the first game of the day, West Virginia overcame a slow start to defeat Clemson by 8 points, 84-76. The Cats then needed all 40 minutes, less only 2 seconds to beat the Ivy League Champs, Princeton, by only 2 points, 59-57 when Brandon Knight scored with 2 seconds remaining to break the tie and give the Cats a hard fought, but in artful, win.
Saturday, it will be Kentucky against West Virginia again. It will be Calipari against Huggins again. It will be a continuation of a border state feud that began in earnest one year ago. One last aspect of this year's installment of this feud is that the Kentucky Wildcats have been on a mission of late to avenge earlier losses, and thus far, this team has not failed to take full advantage of each previous opportunity to avenge a loss, doing so against Georgia, Vanderbilt, Florida twice, Mississippi, and Alabama. While the debt here that calls for paybacks occurred to last year's team, Miller, Liggins, Harrellson, and Hood were all members of that team, and that give this new opportunity for them to avenge the loss currency.
In never hurts to remind oneself that in March, the purpose is to survive and advance. That will be the primary mission again on Saturday. Only one of these rivals will succeed.
#22 WEST VIRGINIA has played 32 games posting a 21-11; 11-8 record, finishing tied for 6 th in the Big East Conference with Cincinnati and losing in their first game of the Big East Tournament. . WEST VIRGINIA posted a 9-3 non-conference record that included losses to #61 Minnesota by 4 and #85 Marshall by 4 both on neutral courts, and at #53 Miami of Florida by 3 points. WEST VIRGINIA's most impressive non-conference win was over #30 Vanderbilt by 3 on a neutral court in November. During the Big East, WEST VIRGINIA posted a 11-7 record, losing at home to #35 St John's by 10 and #5 Pitt by 5. The Mountaineers posted a 4-5 road record in the Big East with road wins over #200 DePaul by 2, #32 Georgetown by 6,#23 Cincinnati by 11, and #75 Rutgers by 11. West Virginia lost its first game in the Big East Tournament to #34 Marquette by 6.
WEST VIRGINIA played these games at an average pace of about 64 to 65 possessions, averaging 69.5 ppg and allowing 64.1 ppg. This translates to an offensive efficiency of 1.080 points per possession and a defensive efficiency of 0.993 ppp. WEST VIRGINIA's turnover rate has been 18.8% while they have forced turnovers at a 18.7% rate. On the Boards, WEST VIRGINIA's offensive and defensive rebounding rates have been 40.5% and 64.4% 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 0.7391 while WEST VIRGINIA's is 0.8159
The NGE analysis indicates a game played at a pace of about 66 possessions for the Cats and 66 possessions for the Mountaineers, with the Cats winning for the twenty-seventh time in thirty-five starts this season by 4 points, 70-66. The analysis projects an offensive efficiency of 1.061 ppp and a defensive efficiency of 1.000 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. Lamb not only played against Florida on Sunday, he did return to the starting lineup against PRINCETON and will start again today against WEST VIRGINIA.
WVU wins the opening tip and both teams miss their first shot, and on the UK miss, Harrellson picks up a very early foul on the rebound. After each team misses their first 3 point attempt, Lamb picks up his first foul with 18:43 to play, and Liggins takes his place on the floor. On the third possession, Knight drained a 3 pointer and after a brief 6-2 lead from a second 3 pointer by Knight, the teams ended the first segment tied 8-8 with Knight to get a pair of free throws after the under 16 TV timeout. The early pace is in the upper 60s, and each team has one turnover, and one offensive rebound. The Cats are 3-6 and WVU is 3-7. After Knight made both free throws to ease the Cats back up by 2 points, WVU scored four straight to take a 2 point lead of their own, 12-10, but the Cats then went on an 8-2 run to move back in front by 4 points, 18-14, at the under 12 TV timeout, and Lamb will get one free throw when play resumes to complete his 3 point play.
Early in the third segment, Lamb commits his second foul, and must return to the bench. After Lamb gave the Cats a 5 point lead, the Cats extended it to 7 points, 23-16, before a late 3 pointer by WVU trimmed the lead back to 4 points at the under 12 TV timeout, and the Cats in possession of the ball. Out of the timeout, Coach Calipari puts Lamb back in and it did not take long for him to pick up his 3 rd foul. WVU made both free throws due to Lamb's foul, and after another quick 3 point attempt, WVU scored to trim the lead back to 3 points, 26-23, forcing a UK timeout. The Kentucky woes continue as Terrence Jones gets his second foul, and 3 Kentucky turnovers allow WVU to move back into the lead, 30-28, at the under 4 TV timeout with 3:30 to play and WVU in possession.
As the first half nears an end, UK has 3 players with at least 2 fouls, Jones, Vargas and Lamb. Liggins picked up his second foul with 0.4 seconds to play in the first half. Since UK led 26-19, WVU finished the half with a 22-7 run, including an 11-3 run after the last tie at 30-30. In the final segment, the Cats are outscored 11-5 and WVU posts an 8 point lead, 41-33 at the half.
UK scored its 33 points with 31 possessions for the half, and WEST VIRGINIA scored its 41 points on 32 possessions. WEST VIRGINIA won the rebounding battle, 16-12, and WEST VIRGINIA won the battle of the offensive rebounds 6-1. WEST VIRGINIA won the second chance points 7-0. WEST VIRGINIA had an offensive efficiency of 1.063 ppp on its 32 first chance possessions and 1.167 ppp on its 6 second chances. Kentucky had an efficiency of 1.065 ppp on its 31 first chance possessions and 0.000 ppp on its 1 second chance possession. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed 9.1% of its misses as offensive rebounds while WEST VIRGINIA was able to convert 35.3% of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.
UK hit 4 of its 5 free throws in the first half [80.0%]. WEST VIRGINIA hit 8-10 [80.0%] for the half. Field goal shooting for UK was 13-23 overall [56.5%] and 3-9 from long range [33.3%]. For WEST VIRGINIA, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was 9-17 [52.9%] and from long range, WEST VIRGINIA hit 5-12 [41.7%].
The Cats committed 7 turnovers, one for every 4.4 possessions. The Cats forced 4 Mountaineer turnovers, one for every 8.0 possessions.
The Cats run a play to Knight on a pick and roll to start the second half, and a Harrellson bucket on a lob, and a Knight 3 pointer, coupled with 2 WVU turnovers and 0-3 shooting allow the Cats to trim the 8 point halftime lead to a single point, 41-40, forcing a quick WVU timeout with 17:43 to play in the game, and the Cats with the ball. Out of the timeout, the Cats scored to regain the lead, 42-41 at the under 16 TV timeout and possession of the ball. In the second segment, the teams played on even terms, and the Cats continue to hold a 1 point lead, 46-45 at the under 12 TV timeout, and the Cats again will have the first possession of the next segment.
In the 3 rd segment, WVU regains the lead and extends it to 4 points, 55-51 at the under 8 TV timeout with 7:32 to play in the game. The Cats will have the ball. The Cats stop the WVU run with their own back to back baskets to pull back even, 55-55, with 6:18 to play in the game. The Cats continue their run to 9-0 in the segment to establish their biggest lead of the second half, and the game, 5 points, 60-55, at the under 4 TV timeout with 3:57 to play, and WVU in possession. After a dismal rebounding effort in the first half, the Cats half pulled even on total rebounding, one down 1 offensive rebound, and a 1 point advantage on second chance points. The Cats have hit 50% of their shots, while WVU has made 43.5% of their shots. Out of the timeout, WVU makes 1 of 2 free throws, but Harrellson missed both of his attempts at the other end, giving WVU the ball, down 4, 60-56, with 2:37 to play. WVU missed, and Jones was fouled on the rebound, but Jones only made 1 of 2 attempts, given the ball to WVU with 2:17 to play, trailing by 5 points, 61-56. WVU scored on a second chance opportunity to cut the lead to 3 points, and WVU burns its last timeout of the game with 2:03 to play in the game. The Cats make 11 of 16 free throws down the stretch to get the win, 71-63.
UK scored its 71 points on 62 possessions for the game, and WEST VIRGINIA scored its 63 points on 63 possessions.
KENTUCKY won the battle of the boards, 34-30 on total rebounds and the teams battled to a stalemate on the offensive rebounds, 9-9. WEST VIRGINIA was also able to convert its offensive rebounds into a 1 point advantage with second chance points, 9-8. WEST VIRGINIA had an offensive efficiency of 0.857 ppp on its 63 first chance possessions and 1.000 ppp for its 9 second chance possessions. UK had 1.016 ppp on its 62 first chance possessions and 0.889 ppp on its 9 second chance possessions. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed 30.0% of its misses as offensive rebounds while WEST VIRGINIA was able to convert 26.5% of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.
UK hit very poorly from the free throw line for most of the game, but hit 10 of 11 in the final minute of the game for a game total 17-24 [70.8%]. WEST VIRGINIA made 12-16 [75.0%] for the game. Field goal shooting for UK was 24-50 overall [48.0%] and 6-18 from long range [33.3%]. For WEST VIRGINIA, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was 15-34[44.1%] and from long range, WEST VIRGINIA hit 7-19 [36.8%].
The Cats committed 10 turnovers, one for every 6.2 possessions. The Cats forced 11 WEST VIRGINIA turnovers, one for every 5.7 possessions.
Prior to the game, the NGE analysis predicted a 3 point UK win, 70-67 at a pace of 66 possessions for UK and 66 possessions for WEST VIRGINIA. The final score was 71 (70) to 63 (67) at a pace of 62 possessions for the Cats and 63 possessions for WEST VIRGINIA. The UK offensive efficiency for the game was 1.145 (B-) and the UK defensive efficiency was 1.000 ppp (C).
Next Game On Schedule: The Cats will play in the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 against the winner of tomorrow's second round game between #1 Seed Ohio State and #8 Seed George Mason.
Submitted by Richard Cheeks
Submitted by Richard Cheeks