BIG BLUE FANS FOR
2011-12 Season Analytical Writings
Some of my earliest memories of UK Basketball revolve around how difficult life on the road in the SEC is for every UK basketball team, every year. As Coach Calipari has repeatedly reminded his players, and the fans, when the Wildcats appear on the opposing SEC team's home schedule, everybody in the opponents' camp circles the date, line up their tickets, and make plans for the biggest sports date of their basketball season. It is so predictable that arenas throughout the south are usually sufficiently empty for the home team's games that sounds echo and mix with the sounds of the bouncing ball, squeaky sneakers, and failing coach's voices. However, when the Cats take their floors, all the seats are full, the fans are rowdy, and the players are ready to play the most important game of their season. The reason: A win over mighty Kentucky provides solace for an otherwise disappointing basketball season, and a sense of pride that will carry most SEC fan bases through multiple seasons of disappointment.
So life on the SEC Road for any Kentucky Wildcat is always intense and difficult. 2012 will be no different in that regard, because that is one of the few constants of a basketball season in the south.
Cat fans have learned through the years of SEC tussles in places like Auburn, TAuburnaloosa, Starkville, Baton Rouge, Knoxville, Athens, Columbia, Nashville, Fayetteville, Nashville, and Gainesville that the path to yet another SEC Championship usually involves winning the SEC home games, and wining at least ½ of the SEC games on the road. The difference between the UK teams that have added to the total of SEC Championships for Kentucky and those that fell short usually appears in the number of road wins and losses.
This edition of UK Wildcats begin that road journey on Wednesday night in Auburn, Alabama. This season will include the annual SEC East stops in Knoxville, Nashville, Athens, Columbia, and Gainesville, with SEC West stops at Auburn, Starkville, and Baton Rouge. How many of those 8 will this group of Cats get out of town with W's? In another 8 weeks, we will all know the answer for 2012, but as the team prepares to embark, my “guess” is 7-1 on the road.
Auburn brings a 10-5 record into their encounter with the Wildcats. The Tigers have lost all five times away from home, twice at neutral venues to #40 Long Beach State by 21 and #135 UTEP by 7, and three times on the road, at #32 Seton Hall by 22, at #45 Florida State by 29, and this past Saturday at #35 Vanderbilt by 30. However, the Tigers are a perfect 9-0 at the Auburn Arena. However, their most impressive win to date has been over #111 South Florida by 12.
The Auburn Arena has an official capacity of 9,600, but the largest home crowd to attend and watch Auburn so far this season has been 7,182 when Auburn hosted Nicholls State.and their average home attendance has been only 5200 people. However, on Wednesday night, the Auburn Arena will be more than capacity, and they will be more than ready to make our Cats feel right at home.
AUBURN has played its 15 games at an average pace of about 68 possessions, averaging 66.2 ppg and allowing 64.6 ppg. This translates to an offensive efficiency of 0.972 points per possession and a defensive efficiency of 0.956 ppp. Contributing to those efficiencies are AUBURN's turnover and rebounding rates. AUBURN's turnover rate has been 20.7% while they have forced turnovers at a 21.5% rate. On the Boards, AUBURN's offensive and defensive rebounding rates have been 32.0% and 68.2% respectively. AUBURN's schedule strength prior to this game is 0.364.
As a basis of comparison, UK's performance against its first 13 opponents produced 71 possessions, and a score of 80.9 to 59.1 ppg for efficiencies of 1.137 ppp and 0.846 ppp on the offensive and defensive ends. Contributing to those efficiencies are Kentucky's turnover and rebounding rates. UK's turnover rate is 19.2% and UK has forced turnovers at a 20.2% rate. On the boards, the Cats posted rates of 40.2% and 68.6% at the offensive and defensive ends. Kentucky's schedule strength prior to this game is 0.527.
The NGE analysis indicates a game played at a pace of about 69 possessions with the Cats winning their sixteenth game in seventeen starts this season by 17 points, 76-59. The analysis projects an offensive efficiency of 1.101 ppp and a defensive efficiency of 0.855 ppp.
Terrence Jones and Darius Miller will start along with the three freshmen. Doron Lamb will be the #6 man with Eloy Vargas, Kyle Wiltjer and Twany Beckham coming off the bench. No word provided why Coach Calipari has changed the lineup for this game.
The Cats take the opening tip, and score the first 4 points on their way to an early 9-5 lead at the under 16 TV timeout. The early pace is slow, at about 60 possessions. Auburn has made 2 of 5 shots while the Cats are 3-6. After the timeout, Doron Lamb made his first free throw, but missed the second, and the Cats did not score again in the second segment while Auburn road the back of Chubb's 3-3 shooting to take a 1 point lead, 11-10, at the under 12 TV timeout, and the Tigers have the ball when play resumes.
The slow early pace has slowed even more, and after 8 minutes, UK has only had 10 possessions, shooting 3-10, 3-4 from the line, and turning it over 2 times. Auburn has made 5-8 shots, 1-2 from the line, and turned it over 3 times. The Cats have a 4-3 edge in offensive rebounding. In the third segment, Auburn extended their lead to 3 points, 13-10, completing an 8 point run before Doron Lamb ended the run with a 3 pointer. The teams traded baskets for the balance of the segment, with the Cats managing a 1 point lead, 20-19, at the under 8 TV timeout. In the 4 th segment, the teams traded 1 point leads with each basket, culminating with an Auburn basket and a foul on Miller at the under 4 TV timeout and Auburn up by 1 point, 25-24, and Auburn will be shooting a free throw when play resumes.
After Auburn converted with the free throw to ease on top by 2 points, Miller made the Cats' 4 th 3 pointer to put the Cats back on top by 1 point, 27-26 with 2:47 to play, and Auburn taking a quick timeout. After an Auburn miss, Doron Lamb missed the front end and Auburn converted to regain the lead, 28-27. The Cats scored on a put back basket by Davis to regain the lead, and an Auburn turnover with 3.9 seconds to play allowed Miller to make a 30 foot buzzer beater to push the Cats up by 4 points, 32-28, at the half.
UK scored its 32 points in a total of 29 possessions [1.103 points per possession] for the half, and AUBURN scored its 28 points on a total of 27 possessions [1.037 ppp]. AUBURN won the battle of the boards 20-11, and AUBURN won the battle of the offensive glass 9-6. Kentucky used their second chance possessions for a 7-6 advantage in second chance points. AUBURN had an offensive efficiency of 0.814 ppp on its 27 first chance possessions and 0.600 ppp for its 10 second chance possessions. UK had 0.862 ppp on its 29 first chance possessions and 1.167 ppp on its 6 second chance possession. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed a an average 36.3% of its misses as offensive rebounds while AUBURN was able to convert a strong 66.7% of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.
UK hit 5 of its 7 free throws in the first half [71.4%]. AUBURN was 2-3 [66.7%] for the half. Field goal shooting for UK was 11-27 overall [40.7%] and 5-12 from long range [41.7%]. For AUBURN, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was 13-23 [56.5%] and from long range, AUBURN hit 0-4[0.0%].
The Cats committed 4 turnovers, one for every 7.2 possessions. The Cats forced 9 AUBURN turnovers, one for every 3.0 possessions.
Auburn opened play in the second half with a missed shot, but when Kentucky was unable to score at the other end, Teague was whistled for a technical foul, and Auburn made both free throws to trim the lead to 2 points. After trading baskets to a 34-32 UK lead, a basket by Jones, and a 3 point play by Lamb off a steal lifted the Cats to their biggest lead of the game, 7 points, 39-32, but Auburn scored 5 straight points to trim the UK lead back to 2 points, 39-37, forcing Coach Calipari to call a timeout with 16:37 to play. Out of the timeout, both teams scored 2 more points in the opening segment, and the Cats are clinging to a 2 point lead, 41-39, at the under 16 TV timeout with 15:12 to play in the game.
Out of the timeout, the Cats are outscored 6-2 as Auburn moves back into the lead, by 2 points, 45-43, prompting another UK timeout with12:18 to play in the game. Out of the timeout, the Cats try and miss a 3 pointer, and on the rebound Miller commits his 4 th foul of the game. In the 3 rd segment, the Cats managed to scratch their way back into a fragile 2 point lead with 6 second chance points to only 2 points for Auburn in the segment. At the under 8 TV timeout, the Cats lead by 2, 49-47 with 7:24 to play in the game. In the 4 th segment, a Doron Lamb 3 pointer was the difference as the Cats ease out to a 5 point lead, 54-49 at the under 4 TV timeout with 3:50 to play in the game, and the Cats in possession of the ball.
Out of the timeout, Miller hits a 3 pointer to give the Cats their biggest lead of the game, 8 points, 57-49, and Auburn takes a quick timeout with 3:29 to play. The Cats out scored the Tigers 11-4 over the final segment for a 15 point win, 68-53.
UK scored its 68 points in a total of 61 possessions [1.115 ppp] for the game, and AUBURN scored its 53 points on a total of 61 [0.869 ppp].
AUBURN won the battle of the boards, 37-29, and AUBURN won the battle of the offensive glass 16-13. Kentucky won the second chance points battle 15-14. AUBURN had an offensive efficiency of 0.639 ppp on its 61 first chance possessions and 0.875 ppp for its 16 second chance possessions. UK had 0.869 ppp on its 61 first chance possessions and 1.154 ppp on its 13 second chance possessions. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed a respectable 38.2% of its misses as offensive rebounds while AUBURN was able to convert 50.0% of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.
UK hit well from the free throw line in this game, making 15-18 [83.3%]. AUBURN made 10-12 [83.3%] for the game. Field goal shooting for UK was 23-57 overall [40.4%] and 7-20 from long range [35.0%]. For AUBURN, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was a strong 20-39 [51.3%] and from long range, AUBURN hit 1-12 [8.3%].
The Cats committed 8 turnovers, one for every 7.6 possessions. The Cats forced 15 AUBURN turnovers, one for every 4.1 possessions.
Prior to the game, the NGE analysis predicted a 17 point UK win, 76-59 at a pace of 69 possessions for UK and 69 possessions for AUBURN. The final score was 68 (76) to 53 (59) at a pace of 61 possessions for the Cats and 61 possessions for AUBURN. The UK offensive efficiency for the game was 1.115 (C) and the UK defensive efficiency was 0.869 ppp (C).
Next Game On Schedule: January 14, 2012 at Tennessee in their second consecutive SEC road game of the 2012 season.
Submitted by Richard Cheeks
Submitted by Richard Cheeks