BIG BLUE FANS FOR
2011-12 Season Analytical Writings
The twelve current members of the SEC have finished their non-conference preparation for conference competition, and on Saturday, SEC action begins with a full slate of games. As conference play begins, based solely on how each of the 12 have played to date, the Kentucky Wildcats clearly begin this race with the greatest probability of finishing in first place again and grabbing that #1 seed for the SEC Tournament. The primary challengers that Kentucky must fend off over the next 16 games are Florida, Alabama, Vanderbilt, and Mississippi State who will fight it out probably into the last week of play to secure those final three first round byes for the tournament.
The Cats open the SEC season at Rupp Arena against South Carolina. South Carolina's non-conference record has a bit of Jeckyl and Hyde appearance in that the Gamecocks lost 5 of their first 7 games and won 6 of their last 7 games in route to their 8-6 record. Some of the disparate results occur because in the first 7 games, USC played 3 at home, one away, and 3 at neutral locations against an array of opponents having an average Pomeroy Rating of 177 and included a game against #6 North Carolina [25 point neutral court loss]. However, in the last 7 games, the average Pomeroy Rating has been only marginally higher, at 190, and did include a home game against #1 Ohio State [8 point home loss]. The other factor that could be contributing to this change is the addition of Bruce Ellington into the playing rotation for the last 7 games.
During the first 7 games, USC must answer for a 6 point loss at #240 Elon College, and a 1 point home loss to #217 Tennessee State. However, in the final 7 games, the Gamecocks did play #1 Ohio State a tough game, and won at #106 Clemson by 3. This shift in apparent performance level, first 7 vs last 7 games makes one at least ponder whether it signals a team on the rise, playing significantly better than their total body of work might indicate today. We will find out the answer to this question on Saturday at Rupp Arena. One indication that this is indeed the case is the fact that after the first 7 games, USC had a Pomeroy Rating of #163, and entering Saturday's game, USC has risen to #118.
USC has played its 14 games at an average pace of about 63 possessions, averaging 64.4 ppg and allowing 60.5 ppg. This translates to an offensive efficiency of 1.024 points per possession and a defensive efficiency of 0.968 ppp. Contributing to those efficiencies are USC's turnover and rebounding rates. USC's turnover rate has been 20.9% while they have forced turnovers at a 23.2% rate. On the Boards, USC's offensive and defensive rebounding rates have been 38.0% and 64.3% respectively. USC's schedule strength prior to this game is 0.440.
As a basis of comparison, UK's performance against its first 13 opponents produced 71 possessions, and a score of 81.0 to 58.7 ppg for efficiencies of 1.135 ppp and 0.838 ppp on the offensive and defensive ends. Contributing to those efficiencies are Kentucky's turnover and rebounding rates. UK's turnover rate is 19.1% and UK has forced turnovers at a 20.3% rate. On the boards, the Cats posted rates of 40.7% and 69.2% at the offensive and defensive ends. Kentucky's schedule strength prior to this game is 0.516.
The NGE analysis indicates a game played at a pace of about 66 to 67 possessions with the Cats winning their fifteeth game in sixteen starts this season by 25 points, 79-54. The analysis projects an offensive efficiency of 1.179 ppp and a defensive efficiency of 0.818 ppp.
Terrence Jones and Lamb will start along with the three freshmen. Miller will be the #6 man with Eloy Vargas, Kyle Wiltjer and Twany Beckham coming off the bench.
The Cats controlled the opening tip, but a missed shot and turnover, countered by two USC baskets forced Kentucky into a quick timeout with 18:35 to play in the first half and the Cats down 4-0. Out of the timeout, the Cats clamp down on USC's offense, and score the next 5 points to take a 5-4 lead at the under 16 TV timeout, and Terrence Jones will shoot one free throw to try to complete the “and one” play that sent the game to the first media timeout. Jones missed the free throw, but the Cats used 3-3 shooting and a pair of Lamb free throws to outscore USC 9-5 in the second segment and expand their lead to 5 points, 14-9, at the under 12 TV timeout. However, in the segment, Lamb picked up his second foul and has taken a seat next to Coach Calipari on the bench.
In the opening 8 minutes, the early pace is about 70 possessions per game level. The Cats have made 5of their 9 shots, while UCS is 4 for 15 from the field, and are getting more shots due to a 7-10 advantage on the boards. In the third segment, the Cats struggled with 2 more turnovers, and only managed 4 points in the 5 total possessions. However, USC was not able to take advantage of 3 offensive rebounds, and also scored 4 points on their 5 trips into offensive court, as the Cats maintained their 5 point lead, 18-13, at the under 8 TV timeout with 7:16 to play in the first half.
In the 4 th segment, the Cats added a pair of points to their lead, stretching it to 7 points, 25-18, at the under 4 TV timeout. In the final segment, the Cats did all the scoring and expanded their lead to 16 points, 34-18, at the half.
UK scored its 34 points in a total of 30 possessions [1.133 points per possession] for the half, and USC scored its 18 points on a total of 29 possessions [0.621 ppp]. USC won the battle of the boards 19-15, and USC won the battle of the offensive glass 10-2. USC used their second chance possessions for a 8.2 advantage in second chance points. USC had an offensive efficiency of 0.345 ppp on its 29 first chance possessions and 0.800 ppp for its 10second chance possessions. UK had 1.068 ppp on its 30 first chance possessions and 1.000 ppp on its 2 second chance possession. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed a pititful 18.8% of its misses as offensive rebounds while USC was able to convert a strong 43.5% of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.
UK hit 6 of its 9 free throws in the first half [66.7%]. USC was 1.2 [50.0%] for the half. Field goal shooting for UK was 13-23 overall [56.5%] and 2-5 from long range [40.0%]. For USC, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was 7-22 [31.8%] and from long range, USC hit 1-10[10.0%].
The Cats committed 5 turnovers, one for every 6.0 possessions. The Cats forced 6 USC turnovers, one for every 4.8 possessions.
The Cats open the second half with Terrence Jones floater, a Terrence Jones dunk, and Lamb 3 pointer to extend their lead to 20 points, 41-21, prompting a USC timeout with 18:11 remaining in the game. After the timeout, USC began to chip away at the lead, until they reestablished the halftime lead, 16 points, 47-31, at the under 16 TV timeout. In the second segment, the Cats and Gamecocks played on even terms as the Cats maintained the lead at 16 points, 55-39 at the under 12 TV timeout.
In the third segment, USC continues to chip away at the UK lead, trimming it to 12 points, 62-50 at the under 8 TV timeout with 7:12 to play in the game. Out of the timeout, the Cats score 8 straight points to push their lead back to 20 points, 70-50, prompting a USC timeout with 6:11 to play in the game. It is an 18 point game at the final media timout, with 3:25 to play in the game, 74-56. The final score is 79-64
UK scored its 79 points in a total of 66 possessions [1.197 ppp] for the game, and USC scored its 64 points on a total of 65 [0.985 ppp].
USC won the battle of the boards, 32-30, and USC won the battle of the offensive glass 16-7. USC won the second chance points battle 15-4. USC had an offensive efficiency of 0.754 ppp on its 65 first chance possessions and 0.938 ppp for its 16 second chance possessions. UK had 1.136 ppp on its 66 first chance possessions and 0.571 ppp on its 7 second chance possessions. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed a weak 30.4% of its misses as offensive rebounds while USC was able to convert 41.0% of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.
UK hit well from the free throw line in this game, making 16-22 [72.7%]. USC made 8-10 [80.0%] for the game. Field goal shooting for UK was 29-49 overall [59.2%] and 5-11 from long range [45.5%]. For USC, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was a strong 19-42 [45.2%] and from long range, USC hit 6-22 [27.3%].
The Cats committed 15 turnovers, one for every 4.4 possessions. The Cats forced 12 USC turnovers, one for every 5.5 possessions.
Prior to the game, the NGE analysis predicted a 25 point UK win, 79-54 at a pace of 67 possessions for UK and 66 possessions for USC. The final score was 79(79) to 64 (54) at a pace of 66 possessions for the Cats and 65 possessions for USC. The UK offensive efficiency for the game was 1.197(C) and the UK defensive efficiency was 0.985 ppp (D-).
Next Game On Schedule: January 11, 2012 at Auburn in their first SEC road game of the 2012 season.
Submitted by Richard Cheeks
Submitted by Richard Cheeks