BIG BLUE FANS FOR
2011-12 Season Analytical Writings
Through the first 5 games, the 2011-12 Kentucky Wildcats are putting a defensive stamp of approval on nearly every game. Through 5 games in 2009-10, the Cats posted an average raw offensive efficiency of 1.123 points per possession [ppp] and an average raw defensive efficiency of 0.953 ppp against their first 5 opponents that collectively posed a 0.454 strength of schedule per Pomeroy. That team finished the season with an Adjusted NGE of 0.258 ppp in the Elite 8. Through 5 games in 2010-11, the Cats posted an average raw offensive efficiency of 1.129 ppp and an average raw defensive efficiency of 0.916 ppp against their first 5 opponents that collectively posed a 0.806 strength of schedule per Pomeroy. That team finished the season with an Adjusted NGE of 0.275 ppp in the Final 4.
Through 5 games this season, the average raw efficiencies are 1.155 ppp on offense and an incredible 0.0.744 ppp on defense. This team is establishing itself early as a defensive juggernaut. See the following table for a reasonable projection of this team's strength, relative to the last two.
This is why the 2011-12 Kentucky Wildcats find themselves as the #1 rated team according to Pomeroy this morning with the #1 rated adjusted offensive efficiency and the #1 rated adjusted defensive efficiency in the country after their first five games. This is why Pomeroy has this UK team as favored to win every game on its 31 game regular season calendar, and this is why Pomeroy projects a current probability of finishing the season undefeated at an impressive 8.4% the day after Thanksgiving.
Of course, great defense can hide assorted offensive sins, such as poorer shooting, higher turnover rates, and lower rebounding efficiencies, each of which have been identified by various observers of this team's early season performances. Even in the season's weakest overall performance of this first five games, the Cats' defense held Old Dominion to only 0.788 points per possession for the game. That game was closer than anticipated because of issues on the offensive end, whereby the Cats only managed to score at a season low 0.912 points per possession. The Cats have one more game to work on their issues before the toughest overall segment of their non-conference schedule arrives with St John's, North Carolina, and the Cat's only true non-conference road game at Indiana. Job #1 against Portland is to find that offensive toughness to hit the offensive glass, finish through the bumps and pushes, and reduce the turnover frequency in the process.
Last year, Portland University finished with a 20-12 overall record, and 7-7 in the West Coast Conference. PORTLAND UNIVERSITY brings a 2-3 record and a Pomeroy #164 rating into their encounter with #1 Kentucky. This season, PORTLAND UNIVERSITY has beaten #143 Florida Atlantic by 5, and #178 Georgia State by 5. PORTLAND has also lost their last three games to #39 Washington by 30, #81 Washington State by 10, and #71 UC Santa Barbara by 14. PORTLAND UNIVERSITY has played their early season games at a pace of 71 possessions, scoring 68.2 ppg and allowing 77.0 ppg for efficiencies of 0.962 ppp on offense and 1.080 ppp on defense. The PORTLAND UNIVERSITY schedule strength stands at 0.697 heading into this game.
As a basis of comparison, UK's performance through their first 5 games have been played at an average pace of about 71to 72 possessions, with average scoring of 83.6 ppg by the Cats and 52.4 ppg by the five opponents. That corresponds to efficiencies of 1.155 ppp and 0.744 ppp at the offensive and defensive ends respectively. The Cats currently have a schedule strength of 0.479.
The NGE analysis indicates a game played at a pace of about 71 to 72 possessions with the Cats winning by 37 points, 89-52. The analysis projects an offensive efficiency of 1.236 ppp and a defensive efficiency of 0.732 ppp.
For the fifth straight game, Coach Calipari is starting two sophomores [Jones and Lamb] and three freshmen [Marquis Teague, Kidd-Gilchrist, and Anthony Davis], with Darius Miller coming off the bench with Eloy Vargas and Kyle Wiltjer.
The Cats win the opening tip, and take the ball down low to Jones for a quick basket, and after easing out to an early 4 point lead, 6-2, Portland makes a pair of free throws and a 3 pointer to take the lead at the under 16 TV timeout, 7-6. At the under 12 TV timeout the score was a 1 point UK lead, 13-12, but in the next 8 minutes, the Cats outscored Portland 18-7 to extend the lead to 13 points at the under 4 TV timeout. The Cats allow Portland to trim a 16 point lead to only 9 points before scoring the last 3 points of the half to lead by 12, 38-26, at the half.
UK scored its 38 points in a total of 31 possessions [1.226 points per possession] for the half, and PORTLAND UNIVERSITY scored its 26 points on a total of 31 possessions [0.839 ppp]. Portland won the battle of the boards 17-20 and PORTLAND UNIVERSITY fought on the offensive glass, limiting Kentucky to 8-4 advantage. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed a weak 25% of its misses as offensive rebounds while PORTLAND UNIVERSITY was able to convert a strong 38.1% of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.
UK hit 7 of 9 free throws in the first half, [77.8%]. PORTLAND UNIVERSITY hit 2-2 [100.0%] for the half. Field goal shooting for UK was 14-29 overall [48.3%] and 3-8 from long range [37.5%]. For PORTLAND UNIVERSITY, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was 3-19[15.8%] and from long range, PORTLAND UNIVERSITY hit 6-11 [54.5%].
Turnovers were in short supply in this first half. The Cats committed 2 turnovers, one for every 15.5 possessions. The Cats forced 8 Portland UNIVERSITY turnovers, one for every 3.9 possessions.
In the opening segment of the second half, Portland does not miss a shot while the Cats only make 2 of 7 attempts, at Portland cuts the one time 16 point lead to 6 points, 43-37, at the under 16 TV timeout. Out of the timeout, Jones made a pair of free throws, and a pair of basket producing steals extended the Cats back into a 12 point lead, prompting a quick Portland timeout with the score 49-37 with Kidd-Gilchrist to shoot a free throw to complete a 3 point play after the timeout. In the second segment, the Cats ran out to a 19 point lead, 58-39, at the under 12 TV timeout. The teams played on relatively even terms to the under 4 TV timeout, with the Cats leading by 20, 78-58 with 3:42 to play in the game. The teams finish out the game with the Cats winning by 24, 87-63.
UK scored its 87 points on 69 possessions [1.261 ppp] for the game, and PORTLAND UNIVERSITY scored its 63 points on a total of 69 possessions [0.913 ppp].
Portland won the boards, with a rebounding edge 39-38, and UK and Portland fought on even terms on the offensive glass 13-13. Kentucky converted its 13 second chance possessions into 13 points, and PORTLAND UNIVERSITY used their 13 second chances to score 9 points. PORTLAND UNIVERSITY had an offensive efficiency of 0.783 ppp on its 69 first chance possessions and 0.692 ppp for its 13 second chance possessions. UK had 1.072 ppp on its 69 first chance possessions and 1.000 ppp on its 13 second chance possessions. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed an average 33.3% of its misses as offensive rebounds while PORTLAND UNIVERSITY was able to convert a stronger 34.2% of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.
UK hit average from the free throw line in this game, making 24-35 [68.6%]. PORTLAND UNIVERSITY made 6-8 [75.0%] for the game. Field goal shooting for UK was 28-62 overall [45.2%] and 7-17 from long range [41.2%]. For PORTLAND UNIVERSITY, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was a fair 12-38 [31.6%] and from long range, PORTLAND UNIVERSITY hit 11-23 [47.8%].
Turnovers were in rare supply in this game. The Cats committed 4 turnovers, one for every 17.2 possessions. The Cats forced 17 PORTLAND UNIVERSITY turnovers, one for every 4.1 possessions.
Prior to the game, the NGE analysis predicted a 37 point UK win, 89-52 at a pace of 71 possessions. The final score was 87 (89) to 62 (52) at a pace of 69 possessions. The UK offensive efficiency for the game was 1.261 ppp (B-) and the UK defensive efficiency was 0.913 ppp (E).
Next Game On Schedule: Thursday night when the Cats will play St Johns at Rupp Arena in the SEC-Big East Challenge.
Submitted by Richard Cheeks
Submitted by Richard Cheeks