BIG BLUE FANS FOR
2011-12 Season Analytical Writings
The First Saturday of December has arrived. CBS will be in town, as they have been every odd numbered December in recent memory. This is the official beginning of the 2011-12 basketball season. Kentucky. North Carolina. Cats against Tar Heels. The winningest programs of all time, with two of the richest basketball heritages around.
This year, the annual kick off happens at Rupp Arena. Last year it was Chapel Hill, and prior to that Rupp Arena. This is the third such happening since the Calipari era began at UK, and these teams have each prevailed on their home courts the past two years, with Kentucky winning by 2 points in 2009 and North Carolina winning by 2 points in 2010. In 2009, the Cats made it to the first Saturday of December with a perfect 7-0 record while North Carolina entered the game with one prior loss. In 2010, North Carolina entered the game with a 4-3 record while the Cats arrived at Chapel Hill with only 1 prior loss. This year, the Cats will place another perfect 7-0 start on the line while UNC, as in 2009, arrives at Rupp with a single loss in November.
When CBS give the signal for lights, camera, action at noon on Saturday, Rupp Arena will be at overflow capacity for what is proving to be the hardest ticket in the history of Rupp Arena, except possibly the Rick Pitino return after taking over the reigns at Louisville about a decade ago.
This is it. The Big Event. #1 Kentucky against pre-season #1 North Carolina.
NORTH CAROLINA has played seven games, winning six. The Tar Heels' only loss was at #16 UNLV last Saturday night by 10 points, but that game was undecided until the final moments when UNLV expanded their margin as UNC rushed several shots in an attempt to close a 3 point gap. North Carolina has defeated #13 Michigan State by 12 on a neutral court and beat a very strong #3 Wisconsin team at Chapel Hill by 3 points on Wednesday night.
NORTH CAROLINA has played these games at an average pace of about 74 possessions, averaging 84.0 ppg and allowing 69.0 ppg. This translates to an offensive efficiency of 1.109 points per possession and a defensive efficiency of 0.967 ppp. NORTH CAROLINA's turnover rate has been 17.2% while they have forced turnovers at a 20.0% rate. On the Boards, NORTH CAROLINA's offensive and defensive rebounding rates have been 35.8% and 67.7% respectively. UNC's schedule strength prior to this game is 0.699.
As a basis of comparison, UK's performance against its first seven opponents produced 70 possessions, and a score of 83.7 to 54.9 ppg for efficiencies of 1.146 ppp and 0.770 ppp on the offensive and defensive ends. UK's turnover rate is 17.8% and UK has forced turnovers at a 21.3% rate. On the boards, the Cats posted rates of 37.9% and 68.8% at the offensive and defensive ends. Kentucky's schedule strength prior to this game is 0.454.
The NGE analysis indicates a game played at a pace of about 72 to 73 possessions with the Cats winning for the eighth time in eight starts this season by 16 points, 81-65. The analysis projects an offensive efficiency of 1.125 ppp and a defensive efficiency of 0.890 ppp.
For the seventh game in a row, 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.
Carolina wins the opening tip, and immediately turns the ball over, their first of 5 early turnovers, as the Cats run out to an early 6 point lead, 9-3, but that lead was short lived, as an 11-2 Carolina run put the Tar Heels on top by 3 points, 14-11. A final basket by Jones in an extended opening period left the Cats 1 point down, 14-13, at the under 16 TV timeout with 14:01 to play in the first half. In the abbreviated second segment, UNC added 3 points to their early lead on their 3 rd three pointer of the game to lead 19-15 at the under 12 TV timeout with 11:45 to play in the first half. Teague will be shooting a pair of free throws when play resumes.
In the first 8 minutes, Tar Heel shooting, 7-11, and 3-4 from 3 point range, has more than offset their 5 turnovers, and no offensive rebounding. The Cats are only 7-17, and 0-2 with 2 turnovers and 4 offensive rebounds. In the 3 rd segment, UNC added another point to their lead, 5 points, 30-25, at the under 8 TV timeout, and UNC in possession of the ball when play resumes. Out of the timeout, UNC makes a pair of free throws, and following a Kentucky miss, another basket to extend their lead to a game high 9 points, prompting a quick Kentucky timeout. Over the balance of the 4 th segment, the Cats trimmed a pair off that lead, and have the ball when play resumes, down 7, 40-33 at the under 4 TV timeout.
The teams play out the final 4 minutes with the Cats trimming the halftime lead to 5 points, 43-38.
UK scored its 38 points in a total of 36 possessions [1.056 points per possession] for the half, and NORTH CAROLINA scored its 43 points on a total of 36 possessions [1.194 ppp]. Kentucky won the battle of the boards 23-19, and Kentucky won the battle of the offensive glass 12-6. The Cats used their 12second chance possessions to score 9 second chance point while NORTH CAROLINA used its 6 second chance to score 6 second chance points. NORTH CAROLINA had an offensive efficiency of 1.028 ppp on its 36 first chance possessions and 1.000 ppp for its 6 second chance possessions. UK had 0.806 ppp on its 36 first chance possessions and 0.750 ppp on its 12 second chance possession. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed a strong 40.0% of its misses as offensive rebounds while NORTH CAROLINA was able to convert a strong 35.3% of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.
UK hit 8 of its 12 free throws in the first half [66.7%]. NORTH CAROLINA was more effective from the line, making 7-8 [87.5%] for the half. Field goal shooting for UK was 14-38 overall [36.8%] and 2-9 from long range [22.2%]. For NORTH CAROLINA, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was strong, 9-22 [40.9%] and from long range, North Carolina University hit 6-9 [66.7%].
The Cats committed 4 turnovers, one for every 9.0 possessions. The Cats forced 7 NORTH CAROLINA turnovers, one for every 5.1 possessions.
In the opening segment of the game, Carolina outscored the Cats 14-13 to the first break after 6 minutes of play. In the opening segment of the second half, the Cats outscored the Tar Heels 14-13 after 6 minutes of play. The Cats did manage to pull even once, and take a one point lead once during the opening segment, but each time, UNC responded quickly with 3 pointers to regain the lead. In another protracted segment, the Cats continue to chip away at the Carolina lead, outscoring the Tar Heels 6-4 over another 6 minute segment to trim the lead to 2 points, 60-56 at the under 12 TV timeout with 8:13 to play in the game. When play resumes, Miller will be shooting a free throw to complete the 3 point play. After the timeout, Miller converted, UNC turned it over, leading to the under 8 TV timeout with the Cats down by 1 point, 60-59, and in possession when play resumes.
With 7:55 to play, the Cats have lifted their shooting percentage to 41.1% and have cut the UNC shooting percentage to 41.5%. The difference in this game continues to be the disparity in 3 point shooting, UNC 9-15 and UK 2-14. Kentucky has owned ever other statistical category with about 8 minutes to play. On the season, UK has shot the 3 pointer at about 40% while Carolina had been at a 41% rate. Out of the timeout, the Cats hit 3-3 including their 3 rd 3 pointer of the day, this one by Lamb, to extend the Cats to a 4 point lead, 66-62 prompting a North Carolina timeout with 5:27 to play in the game.
In the 4 th segment, the Cats extended their fragile lead to 5 points, 69-64 at the under 4 TV timeout and UNC in possession of the ball. The teams trade scores until a UNC 3 pointer cuts the Kentucky lead to 1 point 73-72 with 47 seconds to play. On the next possession, Teague is fouled and shoots the bonus with 21.5 seconds to go. He missed the front end. Carolina's shot for the win was blocked by Davis with 4 seconds to go. Cats win by 1 point, 73-72. This annual clash of the Titans did not disappoint.
UK scored its 73 points in a total of 64 possessions [1.141 ppp] for the game, and NORTH CAROLINA UNIVERSITY scored its 72 points on a total of 65 possessions 1.108 ppp].
Kentucky won the boards, with a rebounding edge 38-36, and Kentucky won the battle of the offensive glass 16-15. NORTH CAROLINA had an offensive efficiency of 0.892 ppp on its 65 first chance possessions and 0.933 ppp for its 15 second chance possessions. UK had 0.922 ppp on its 64 first chance possessions and 0.875 ppp on its 16 second chance possessions. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed a strong 43.2% of its misses as offensive rebounds while NORTH CAROLINA was able to convert 40.5% of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.
UK hit well from the free throw line in this game, making 13-18 [72.2%]. NORTH CAROLINA made 11-14 [78.6%] for the game. Field goal shooting for UK was 28-63 overall [44.4%] and 4-17 from long range [23.5%]. For NORTH CAROLINA, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was a weak 14-42 [33.3%] and from long range, NORTH CAROLINA hit 11-18 [61.1%].
The Cats committed 9 turnovers, one for every 7.1 possessions. The Cats forced 13 NORTH CAROLINA turnovers, one for every 5.0 possessions.
Prior to the game, the NGE analysis predicted a 16 point UK win, 81-65 at a pace of 72 possessions for UK and 73 possessions for North Carolina. The final score was 73 (81) to 72 (65) at a pace of 64 possessions for the Cats and 65 possessions for NORTH CAROLINA. The UK offensive efficiency for the game was 1.141 (C) and the UK defensive efficiency was 1.108 ppp (E).
Next Game On Schedule: December 10 against Indiana in Bloomington as the Cats go on the road to an opponent's arena for the first time this season.
Submitted by Richard Cheeks
Submitted by Richard Cheeks