BIG BLUE FANS FOR
2011-12 Season Analytical Writings
On Tuesday night, Kentucky began its final 7 game push that includes home and away games against Florida and Vanderbilt, and an away date with Mississippi State. The Cats took the first step with a powerful 20 point win over #16 Florida at Rupp Arena. On Saturday, the final push moves to Nashville where Vanderbilt awaits with their plan to hand the Cats their second loss of the year and their first loss in SEC play.
At the beginning of the season, the pundits spoke of Vanderbilt in glowing terms, and some ranked them in the top 10. However, the Commodores had to open the season without one of their front line players, Festus Ezeli, who missed their first 10 games. Over those 10 games, the Commodores lost 4 times and their ranking fell from top 10 into the low 50s range. After Ezeli returned to play, Vanderbilt stabilized and began to climb the ratings, stabilizing at about #30 after their road win over Alabama by 10 points on January 19. However, since that huge road win, the Commodores have been sputtering, with 3 losses in their last 6 games including a home loss by 1 point in OT to #64 Mississippi State, 8 points at #93 Arkansas, and by 8 points at #16 Florida. Their wins have come all at home over #97 Tennessee by 18, #50 Middle Tennessee by 7, and #89 LSU by 15. Vanderbilt enters the Kentucky game with a rating of #32.
On the season, Vanderbilt has sustained 7 losses, and 4 of those have occurred in Nashville in Memorial Gym where many people believe Vanderbilt has become simply invincible. However, Vanderbilt's home record this season is 11-4 with losses to #63 Cleveland State by 13, #54 Xavier by 12 in OT, and #143 Indiana State by 6 in addition to the more recent home loss to Mississippi State. Invincible at home they are not.
VANDERBILT enters this game with a 17-7 record, 6-4 in the SEC. VANDERBILT has played 24 games at an average pace of about 69 possessions, averaging 74.3 ppg and allowing 66.2 ppg. This translates to an offensive efficiency of 1.083 points per possession and a defensive efficiency of 0.965 ppp. Contributing to those efficiencies are VANDERBILT's turnover and rebounding rates. VANDERBILT's turnover rate has been 20.4% while they have forced turnovers at a 19.9% rate. On the Boards, VANDERBILT's offensive and defensive rebounding rates have been 31.8% and 68.8% respectively. VANDERBILT's schedule strength prior to this game is 0.629.
As a basis of comparison, UK's performance against its first 25 opponents produced 67 possessions, and a score of 78.2 to 57.7 ppg for efficiencies of 1.160 ppp and 0.856 ppp on the offensive and defensive ends. Contributing to those efficiencies are Kentucky's turnover and rebounding rates. UK's turnover rate is 18.0% and UK has forced turnovers at a 19.2% rate. On the boards, the Cats posted rates of 39.4% and 68.6% at the offensive and defensive ends. Kentucky's schedule strength prior to this game is 0.597
The NGE analysis indicates a game played at a pace of about 68 possessions for UK and 68 possessions for VANDERBILT with the Cats winning their twenty fifth game in twenty six starts this season by 5 points, 71-66. The analysis projects an offensive efficiency of 1.044 ppp and a defensive efficiency of 0.971 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.
Vanderbilt wins the opening tip and scores first on a put back basket, but the Cats answer twice to a 4-4 tie with 16:37 to play in the first half. Following a Vandy turnover, the Cats take their first lead, 6-4, at the under 16 media timeout with 15:17 to play. In the first 5 minutes, the Cats have made 3 of 6 shots and committed 1 turnover. Vandy has made 2-7 shots, with 3 turnovers, but they have controlled the boards early, with 3 offensive rebounds and 2 second chance points.
In the second segment, Vandy trimmed 1 point from the UK lead to 1 point, 12-11, at the under 12 media timeout. In the third segment, the Cats held Vandy scoreless as the Cats added 6 points to their total on just 5 possessions to stretch their early lead to 7 points, 18-11 at the under 8 TV timeout. Vandy will be shooting a pair of free throws when play resumes. In the 4 th segment, the Cats extended their lead to 12 points, 25-13, prompting a Vanderbilt timeout with 4:47 to play in the first half. Out of the timeout, Vandy stopped the Kentucky run with a 3 pointer, but the Cats scored the final 4 points of the segment to lead by 13, 29-16, at the under 4 media timeout with 3:14 to play in the first half. The teams finish the first half with the Cats up 13, 36-23.
UK scored its 36 points in a total of 30 possessions [1.200 points per possession] for the half, and VANDERBILT scored its 23 points on a total of 32 possessions [0.719 ppp]. Kentucky and VANDERBILT battled on even terms on the boards, 16-16, but VANDERBILT won the battle of the offensive glass 9-4. Kentucky used their second chances more efficiently to score 9 second chance points to 11 for VANDERBILT. VANDERBILT had an offensive efficiency of 0.375 ppp on its 32 first chance possessions and 1.222 ppp for its 11 second chance possessions. UK had 0.900 ppp on its 30 first chance possessions and 2.250 ppp on its 4 second chance possessions. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed a fair 36.4% of its misses as offensive rebounds while VANDERBILT was able to convert a strong 42.9% of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.
UK hit 4 for 6 free throws in the first half [66.7%]. VANDERBILT was 4-8 [50.0%] for the half. Field goal shooting for UK was 16-29 overall [55.2%] and 0-4 from long range [0.0%]. For VANDERBILT, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was 5-21 [23.8%] and from long range, VANDERBILT hit 3-8 [37.5%].
The Cats committed 3 turnovers, one for every 10.0 possessions. The Cats forced 8 VANDERBILT turnovers, one for every 4.0 possessions.
Vanderbilt opens the second half with back to back baskets to trim the 13 point UK lead to 9 points, prompting a quick Kentucky timeout. The timeout did not slow down the Vandy resurgence, as the Commodores hit 5 of their 6 shots in the opening segment and cut the 13 point halftime lead to only 7 points, 42-35, at the under 16 media timeout. Vandy has possession when play resumes. Out of the timeout, Vandy makes back to back 3 pointers to trim the lead to only 3 points, prompting another Kentucky timeout. Miller is playing with 4 fouls, and Kidd-Gilchrist is playing with 3 fouls as Vandy heats up from the arc. Vandy's 3 rd 3 pointer of the segment, and 4 th of the second half pulls the Commodores even with the Cats at 48-48 at the under 12 media timeout. The Cats have possession when play resumes.
In the third segment, Vandy continued their run, moving up by 4 points, 55-51, but the Cats scored the last 4 points of the segment, and Davis will be shooting the “and 1” trying to compete the 3 point play to ease the Cats back into the lead. At the under 8 media timeout, the score is 55-55. In the 4 th segment, that extended to the 2:49 mark, the teams traded leads, and Kentucky holds the last lead, 1 point, 64-63, with 2:49 to play and Vandy in possession of the ball.
Out of the timeout, Vandy was forced to throw up a 30 foot 3 point attempt as the shot clock wound down, and the Cats secured the long rebound. On their possession, Vandy fouled Kidd-Gilchrist with 2:04 to play, the Cats up by 1 point and Kidd-Gilchrist to shoot the 1+1 Gilchrist made both, and following another Vandy miss, Miller scored at the end of the shot clock to put the Cats up by 5 points, 68-63. However, Kidd-Gilchrist missed the front end of the bonus on back to back trips, keeping the door open for Vandy, with 26 seconds to play. Teague makes 1 of 2 to close out the scoring with 10 seconds to play, and securing the Cats' 25 th win in 26 games, 69-63.
UK scored its 69 points in a total of 61 possessions [1.131 ppp] for the game, and VANDERBILT scored its 63 points on a total of 62 possessions [1.016 ppp].
Vanderbilt won the battle of the boards, 38-35, and VANDERBILT won the battle of the offensive glass 17-10. VANDERBILT won the second chance points battle 15-11. VANDERBILT had an offensive efficiency of 0.774 ppp on its 62 first chance possessions and 0.882 ppp for its 17 second chance possessions. UK had 0.951 ppp on its 61 first chance possessions and 1.100 ppp on its 11 second chance possessions. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed a weak 32.3% of its misses as offensive rebounds while VANDERBILT was able to convert 40.5% of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.
UK hit very poorly from the free throw line in this game by making 10-15 [66.7%]. VANDERBILT made 9-14 [64.3%] for the game. Field goal shooting for UK was 28-58 overall [48.3%] and 3-14 from long range [21.4%]. For VANDERBILT, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was a weak 15-42 [35.7%] and from long range, VANDERBILT hit 8-21 [38.1%].
The Cats committed 6 turnovers, one for every 10.2 possessions. The Cats forced 10 VANDERBILT turnovers, one for every 6.2 possessions.
Prior to the game, the NGE analysis predicted a 5 point UK win, 71-66 at a pace of 68 possessions for UK and 68 possessions for VANDERBILT. The final score was 69 (71) to 63 (66) at a pace of 61 possessions for the Cats and 62 possessions for VANDERBILT. The UK offensive efficiency for the game was 1.131 (B-) and the UK defensive efficiency was 1.016 ppp (D+).
Next Game On Schedule: February 18, 2012 against Mississippi at Rupp Arena.
Submitted by Richard Cheeks
Submitted by Richard Cheeks