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2011-12 Season Analytical Writings
Road wins are always special because they seldom come easy. On the flip side, home losses are always painful because defending the home hardwood is a key factor in any conference winning pursuit. The Cats stand at +2 after the first 3 SEC games of the season. In the first 1 ½ weeks of SEC play, there have been 18 SEC games, and the visiting team has only won 5 times. UK holds two of those precious wins, more than any other SEC team at this stage.
Neither of the road wins came easy. Against Auburn, the game was a 1 point game with about 7 minutes to play before the Cats were able to make a final push using their superior athleticism to get the 15 point win. In Knoxville, the Cats trailed the Vols at the half, and could not pull away to a comfortable margin of 8 points until the final few minutes before Tennessee closed the gap to the final 3 points after the W was secure in the Cats' column.
Now the Cats return home to defend the home court against Arkansas, and then Alabama. Auburn and Tennessee both used a strategy that involved aggressiveness and physicality against the Cats on the theory that these wildcats shy away from the challenges. However, that strategy has not been successful so far, and I suspect the Cats will see the same approach from the Hogs and the Tide at Rupp Arena.
Arkansas enters this game with an 13-4 record, 2-1 in the early SEC play. On the road, the Hogs are 0-3, and at neutral location [Semi-home per Pomeroy], the Hogs are 0-1. However, at home, these Hogs have been 13-0, and 2-0 in the early SEC with an 10 point win over #56 Mississippi State and a 9 point win over #77 LSU to their credit. 13-0 at home, and 0-4 away from Fayetteville. Arkansas's most impressive victory has been their 10 point win over Mississippi State, and their most disappointing loss has been the 9 point home loss to #196 Houston.
ARKANSAS has played its 17 games at an average pace of about 73 to 74 possessions, averaging 76.9 ppg and allowing 65.5 ppg. This translates to an offensive efficiency of 1.047 points per possession and a defensive efficiency of 0.889 ppp. Contributing to those efficiencies are ARKANSAS's turnover and rebounding rates. ARKANSAS's turnover rate has been 18.4% while they have forced turnovers at a 24.9% rate. On the Boards, ARKANSAS's offensive and defensive rebounding rates have been 35.2% and 63.2% respectively. ARKANSAS's schedule strength prior to this game is 0.358.
As a basis of comparison, UK's performance against its first 17 opponents produced 70 possessions, and a score of 79.3 to 58.9 ppg for efficiencies of 1.127 ppp and 0.854 ppp on the offensive and defensive ends. Contributing to those efficiencies are Kentucky's turnover and rebounding rates. UK's turnover rate is 19.0% and UK has forced turnovers at a 20.6% rate. On the boards, the Cats posted rates of 39.7% and 68.0% 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 72 possessions for UK and 71 possessions for Arkansas with the Cats winning their eighteenth game in nineteen starts this season by 20 points, 80-60. The analysis projects an offensive efficiency of 1.111 ppp and a defensive efficiency of 0.845 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 open with an 8-0 run before Arkansas scores, but 4 Cat turnovers prevented them from extending their early lead beyond the 6 points at 8-2 at the under 16 media timeout that occurred on Kidd-Gilchrist's second personal foul. In the second segment, the Cats extended their lead to 19-6 at the under 12 media timeout. In the third segment, Arkansas outscored the Cats 4-1 as the Cats missed all 4 shots from the field and made only 1 of 2 free throws, to trim the lead to 10 points, 20-10, at the under 8 media timeout.
In the 4 th segment the Cats continue to build their lead, up to 18 points, 30-12 at the under 4 media timeout, and in the final segment, after extending the lead to 20 points, 33-13, the Cats get outscored 8-2 to see their lead trimmed to 14 points, 35-21, prompting a Kentucky timeout. Jones closes out the scoring for the first half with a pair of free throws, and Kentucky takes a 16 point lead to the locker room, 37-21.
UK scored its 37 points in a total of 36 possessions [1.028 points per possession] for the half, and ARKANSAS scored its 21 points on a total of 36 possessions [0.583 ppp]. Kentucky won the battle of the boards 23-15, and Kentucky won the battle of the offensive glass 4-2. Kentucky used their second chance possessions for a 4-0 advantage in second chance points. ARKANSAS had an offensive efficiency of 0.583 ppp on its 36 first chance possessions and 0.000 ppp for its 2 second chance possessions. UK had 0.917 ppp on its 36 first chance possessions and 1.000 ppp on its 4 second chance possession. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed a an anemic 23.5% of its misses as offensive rebounds while ARKANSAS was able to convert an even weaker 9.5% of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.
UK hit 10 of its 14 free throws in the first half [71.4%]. ARKANSAS was 3-6 [50.0%] for the half. Field goal shooting for UK was 13-27 overall [48.1%] and 1-6 from long range [16.7%]. For ARKANSAS, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was 9-23 [39.1%] and from long range, ARKANSAS hit 0-6[0.0%].
The Cats committed 7 turnovers, one for every 5.1 possessions. The Cats forced 6 ARKANSAS turnovers, one for every 6.0 possessions.
In the opening segment of the second half, the teams played on even terms, as the Cats maintained their 16 point lead to the under 16 TV timeout, 48-32. In the second segment, there was nothing even about it, as the Cats expanded their 16 point lead to a game high 24 points, 61-37 at the under 12 media timeout. Davis will be shooting a pair of free throws for the Cats after the timeout. In the third segment, the teams played on even terms, as the Cats maintained the 24 point lead, 72-48. In the fourth segment, the Cats allowed Arkansas to trim 3 points off the 24 point lead, to lead 79-58 at the under 4 TV timeout. The teams play out the final minutes and the Cats secure their 18 th win, 86-63.
UK scored its 86 points in a total of 70 possessions [1.229 ppp] for the game, and ARKANSAS scored its 63 points on a total of 71 [0.887 ppp].
Kentucky won the battle of the boards, 38-26, and Kentucky won the battle of the offensive glass 9-6. Kentucky won the second chance points battle 12-5. ARKANSAS had an offensive efficiency of 0.817 ppp on its 71 first chance possessions and 0.833 ppp for its 6 second chance possessions. UK had 1.057 ppp on its 70 first chance possessions and 1.333 ppp on its 9 second chance possessions. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed low 31.0% of its misses as offensive rebounds while ARKANSAS was able to convert only 17.1% of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.
UK hit well from the free throw line in this game, making 19-25 [76.0%]. ARKANSAS made 12-18 [66.7%] for the game. Field goal shooting for UK was 32-56 overall [57.1%] and 3-11 from long range [27.3%]. For ARKANSAS, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was a weak 18-42 [42.9%] and from long range, ARKANSAS hit 5-15 [33.3%].
The Cats committed 12 turnovers, one for every 5.8 possessions. The Cats forced 11 ARKANSAS turnovers, one for every 6.4 possessions.
Prior to the game, the NGE analysis predicted a 20 point UK win, 80-60 at a pace of 72 possessions for UK and 71 possessions for ARKANSAS. The final score was 86 (80) to 63 (60) at a pace of 70 possessions for the Cats and 71 possessions for ARKANSAS. The UK offensive efficiency for the game was 1.229 (B-) and the UK defensive efficiency was 0.887 ppp (D+).
Next Game On Schedule: January 21, 2012 against Alabama at Rupp Arena.
Submitted by Richard Cheeks
Submitted by Richard Cheeks