BIG BLUE FANS FOR
2011-12 Season Analytical Writings
A mere 4 weeks ago, the Cats ventured into SEC competition by hosting a South Carolina team that by all reports was better than the 8-6 record they brought into that game. Afterall, the Gamecocks had won 6 of their last 7 games and had added Ellington to their roster with the completion of Gamecock football. Pomeroy estimated that the Cats were a 21 point favorite on the Rupp floor, and the NGE method forecast- a 25 point advantage for the Cats. The Cats put the Gamecocks away by 15 points at the end of the day, and the narrower than predicted margin continued to fuel the “USC has improved” chatter
Since that game, the Gamecocks have lost 5 of their last 6 games, and their only win was in Columbia over Alabama on the heels of ‘Bama's loss to the Cats at Rupp Arena. The Gamecocks have lost on the road at Auburn, at Mississippi, and last night at Florida by 8. The Gamecocks have lost at home to Vanderbilt by 10 and Florida by 14. USC's performance since their appearance at Rupp clearly begs the question regarding whether the Gamecocks or as their record indicates, a 9-12; 1-6 team, or better than their record, as the chattering class continues to suggest. I do not have a “logical” answer because my heart says they are not as strong as their record suggests, but my numbers continue to indicate that they are stronger.
Kentucky stands at 22-1, 8-0 in the SEC, including a 4-0 start on the SEC road. If this team beats South Carolina tomorrow, it will match the 2004-05 team at 9-0 and 5-0 on the SEC road when it returns to Rupp to take on Florida. Of course, the 2002-03 Cats are best known for running the table in the SEC, a perfect 19-0 including the SEC Tournament Championship. Prior to that, we must recall the last national champion, 1997-98, that started the SEC 8-0 including 4-0 on the road before falling to Florida at Rupp by 4 on February 1, 1998 in route to a 14-2 SEC record, and the National Championship. This team is placing itself in some fine company, and they are not yet done.
SOUTH CAROLINAenters this game with a 9-12 record, 1-6 in the SEC. SOUTH CAROLINAhas played 21 games at an average pace of about 63 possessions, averaging 63.0 ppg and allowing 63.3 ppg. This translates to an offensive efficiency of 1.003 points per possession and a defensive efficiency of 1.013 ppp. Contributing to those efficiencies are TENNESSEE's turnover and rebounding rates. USC's turnover rate has been 21.0% while they have forced turnovers at a 23.3% rate. On the Boards, USC's offensive and defensive rebounding rates have been 38.2% and 62.7% respectively. USC's schedule strength prior to this game is 0.591.
As a basis of comparison, UK's performance against its first 23 opponents produced 68 possessions, and a score of 77.8 to 57.9 ppg for efficiencies of 1.135 ppp and 0.860 ppp on the offensive and defensive ends. Contributing to those efficiencies are Kentucky's turnover and rebounding rates. UK's turnover rate is 18.3% and UK has forced turnovers at a 19.7% rate. On the boards, the Cats posted rates of 38.7% and 69.2% at the offensive and defensive ends. Kentucky's schedule strength prior to this game is 0.572
As most of you know, I am dedicated to my numbers, and that will be the basis of the following analysis. However, in addition to my subjective belief about USC, I also believe this Kentuckyk team is in the process of peaking. For these reasons, I fully expect the final margin to be substantially higher on Saturday than the 10 points the analysis yields below.
The NGE analysis indicates a game played at a pace of about 66 possessions for UK and 65 possessions for SOUTH CAROLINA with the Cats winning their twenty third game in twenty four starts this season by 10 points, 70-60. The analysis projects an offensive efficiency of 1.061 ppp and a defensive efficiency of 0.923 ppp.
Sophomores Terrence Jones and Doron Lamb will start along with the three freshmen Kidd-Gilchrist, Anthony Davis, and Marquis Teague. Darius Miller will be the #6 man with Eloy Vargas, Kyle Wiltjer and Twany Beckham coming off the bench. However, Coach Calipari has not used Vargas or Beckham in recent games, and has played with a 7 player rotation.
The Cats take the opening tip, and repeat their fast start of recent games, hitting 3 of 4 shots from the floor, including 2 three pointers in a row by Lamb to race out to a 12-3 lead forcing a quick USC timeout with 17:15 to play. At the under 16 media timeout, the lead stands at 6 points, 14-8, with Terrence Jones at the line for a pair of shots when play resumes. After the break, Jones converted 1 of 2, and Kentucky's continued hot shooting, 3-3 in this segment, allowed the Cats to establish their biggest lead, 11 points, 21-10, prompting the second USC timeout with 13:41 to play.
After their timeout, USC answered with 5 straight of their own, to trim the UK lead to 8 points, 23-15, prompting UK's first timeout with 11:12 to play. Out of the timeout, the Cats' Kidd-Gilchrist drove to the basket and drew a foul, stopping play for the under 12 media timeout. In the third segment, the Cats outscored USC 8-5 to establish their biggest lead of the game, 13 points, 31-18, at the under 8 media timeout. Kentucky will be shooting the 1+1 when play resumes. In the first 12 minutes, each team has had 20 possessions. The Cats have posted 31 points on their 20 while they have limited USC to 18 points on its 20 chances.
In the 4 th segment, the Cats outscored USC 13-2 to extend their lead to 44-20, but USC scored the final 5 points of the segment to trim the lead to 19, 44-25, at the under 4 media timeout with 3:03 to play in the first half. When play resumes, Davis will be shooting a pair of free throws. In the final segment, the Cats outscored USC 8-0 to take a 27 point lead to the locker room 52-25.
UK scored its 52 points in a total of 31 possessions [1.677 points per possession] for the half, and SOUTH CAROLINAscored its 25 points on a total of 31 possessions [0.806 ppp]. Kentucky won the battle of the boards 21-17, but SOUTH CAROLINA won the battle of the offensive glass 11-7. Kentucky used their second chances to win the second chance points battle 10-8. SOUTH CAROLINA had an offensive efficiency of 0.548 ppp on its 31 first chance possessions and 0.727 ppp for its 11 second chance possessions. UK had 1.355 ppp on its 31 first chance possessions and 1.429 ppp on its 7 second chance possession. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed a powerful 53.8% of its misses as offensive rebounds while SOUTH CAROLINA was able to convert a strong 44.0% of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.
UK hit 15 for 18 free throws in the first half [83.3%]. SOUTH CAROLINA was 3.5 [60.0%] for the half. Field goal shooting for UK was 17-29 overall [58.6%] and 3-6 from long range [50.0%]. For USC, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was 5-25 [20.0%] and from long range, SOUTH CAROLINA hit 4-9 [44.4%].
The Cats committed 1 turnover, one for every 31.0 possessions. The Cats forced 6 SOUTH CAROLINA turnovers, one for every 5.2 possessions.
The Cats continue the onslaught in the opening segment of the second half, outscoring USC 11-4 to increase the lead to 34 points, 63-29, at the under 16 media timeout. In the second segment, the pace of play and the intensity of play both trailed off, as the Cats outscored USC 3-1 on 4 to 5 possessions. The Cats will have the ball when play resumes. In the third segment, the Cats add 3 more points to the margin, now 39 points, 75-36 with 6:56 to play. Cats win 86-52.
UK scored its 86 points in a total of 59 possessions [1.458 ppp] for the game, and SOUTH CAROLINA scored its 52 points on a total of 61 [0.852 ppp].
Kentucky won the battle of the boards, 41-30, and Kentucky won the battle of the offensive glass 15-13. Kentucky won the second chance points battle 19-8. SOUTH CAROLINA had an offensive efficiency of 0.721 ppp on its 61 first chance possessions and 0.615 ppp for its 13 second chance possessions. UK had 1.136 ppp on its 59 first chance possessions and 1.267 ppp on its 15 second chance possessions. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed a strong 46.9% of its misses as offensive rebounds while SOUTH CAROLINA was able to convert 33.3% of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.
UK hit very well from the free throw line in this game by making 16-21 [76.2%]. SOUTH CAROLINA made 7-15 [46.7%] for the game. Field goal shooting for UK was 32-62 overall [51.6%] and 6-14 from long range [42.9%]. For USC, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was a weak 9-39 [23.1%] and from long range, SOUTH CAROLINA hit 9-20 [45.0%].
The Cats committed 3 turnovers, one for every 19.7 possessions. The Cats forced 8 SOUTH CAROLINA turnovers, one for every 7.6 possessions.
Prior to the game, the NGE analysis predicted a 10 point UK win, 70-60 at a pace of 66 possessions for UK and 65 possessions for USC. The final score was 86 (70) to 52 (60) at a pace of 59 possessions for the Cats and 61 possessions for USC. The UK offensive efficiency for the game was 1.458 (A) and the UK defensive efficiency was 0.852 ppp (B-).
Next Game On Schedule: February 11, 2012 against Florida at Rupp Arena.
Submitted by Richard Cheeks
Submitted by Richard Cheeks