BIG BLUE FANS FOR
2011-12 Season Analytical Writings
Starkville, Mississippi, home of the Mississippi State Bulldogs, perpetual sufferers of Walter Mitty-like delusions of grandeur. In addition, when the disconnect between their delusional self-image and their stark reality crystallizes as it has this season, they get angry. UK saw this anger manifest two years ago when the Cats last travelled to the home of stark reality, and the locals greeted the Cats with ugliness that only Hoosiers could rival. Expect nothing less from the natives of stark-“reality”-ville on Tuesday night because the reality of their basketball fortunes for 2012 has finally smacked them right between their eyes, and the natives are angry.
This season, the national media and corps of talking heads have fed the Starkville delusions with persistent top 25 rankings despite their less than stellar performance. Mississippi State opened the season with a 10-point home loss to #63 Akron, and once SEC play began, the grind of the SEC road began to take its toll. Losses at #113 Arkansas by 10, followed by a 7 point loss at #115 Mississippi were just precursors to their looming melt down. Yes, the Bulldogs did delay the reality of their eventual demise by gunning down the Commodores in Nashville by 1 point in overtime, but their stark-“reality” was looming. Now the Dogs have lost 3 in a row, and the Wildcats will come to their ‘ville on Tuesday. Three consecutive losses, to #121 Georgia at home, and at LSU and Auburn, have left them spiraling down with a 19-8 overall record and 6-6 in the SEC.
Regardless of how ugly the locals decide to make the evening, the game must go on, and the Cats need to go in, take care of business early and with certitude, and get out of town with the W with as little fan-fare as possible.
MISSISSIPPI STATE enters this game with a 19-8 record, 6-6 in the SEC. MISSISSIPPI STATE has played 27 games at an average pace of about 67 possessions, averaging 72.5 ppg and allowing 66.6 ppg. This translates to an offensive efficiency of 1.075 points per possession and a defensive efficiency of 0.987 ppp. Contributing to those efficiencies are MISSISSIPPI STATE's turnover and rebounding rates. MISSISSIPPI STATE's turnover rate has been 17.7% while they have forced turnovers at a 16.1% rate. On the Boards, MISSISSIPPI STATE's offensive and defensive rebounding rates have been 31.5% and 72.3% respectively. MISSISSIPPI STATE's schedule strength prior to this game is 0.564.
As a basis of comparison, UK's performance against its first 25 opponents produced 67 possessions, and a score of 77.8 to 58.0 ppg for efficiencies of 1.150 ppp and 0.870 ppp on the offensive and defensive ends. Contributing to those efficiencies are Kentucky's turnover and rebounding rates. UK's turnover rate is 17.6% and UK has forced turnovers at a 19.2% rate. On the boards, the Cats posted rates of 39.1% and 68.6% at the offensive and defensive ends. Kentucky's schedule strength prior to this game is 0.620.
The NGE analysis indicates a game played at a pace of about 68 possessions for UK and 67 possessions for MISSISSIPPI STATE with the Cats winning their twenty seventh game in twenty eight starts this season by 9 points, 73-64. The analysis projects an offensive efficiency of 1.074 ppp and a defensive efficiency of 0.955 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.
MSU takes the opening tip, and after the teams trade turnovers, MSU draws first blood with a 3 pointer by Sidney, and then a layup to run on top by 5 points, 5-0, forcing a quick Kentucky timeout with 18:22 to play. The timeout did not stop the MSU onslaught to start this game, as MSU continued its run to a 10 point lead 12-2, and again at 14-4 at the under 16 media timeout with only 13:12 to play in the first half. 10 points is the largest deficit of the season, with the prior maximum being 9 points against UNC and 8 points at Tennessee. In the abbreviated second segment, the Cats go a 3 point play from Jones, but MSU matched that with their third 3 pointer of the game to maintain the 10 point lead at the under 12 media timeout, 17-7. MSU will have possession when play resumes.
In the third segment, the Cats trimmed the lead to 6 points, 17-11, but MSU answered with 5 straight, to go up by 11, and then to 12 points on their 4 th 3 pointer of the half, 25-13. Teague answered with UK's first 3 pointer of the game to trim the lead to 9 points, 25-16 at the under 8 media timeout with 7:48 to play in the half. In the fourth segment, a walking on Wiltjer negated a Kidd-Gilchrist basket, and a steal by Bost put the bulldogs back on top by 11 points, 27-16, prompting Kentucky's second timeout with 6:39 to play.
In the 4 th segment, the Cats trimmed the lead to 8 points, but a technical foul on Teague, and MSU's 5 th 3 pointer after the foul shots lifted MSU to their biggest lead, 13 points, 36-23, at the under 4 TV timeout with 3:27 to play in the first half. In the final segment, MSU controls the game to a 13 point halftime lead, 41-28.
UK scored its 28 points in a total of 31 possessions [0.903 points per possession] for the half, and MISSISSIPPI STATE scored its 41 points on a total of 33 possessions [1.242 ppp]. Kentucky controlled the boards in the first half, 19-15 in total rebounds and 6.2 on the offensive boards. Kentucky and MSU both managed to convert their offensive rebounds into 3 second chance points. MISSISSIPPI STATE had an offensive efficiency of 1.152 ppp on its 33 first chance possessions and 1.500 ppp for its 2 second chance possessions. UK had 0.806 ppp on its 31 first chance possessions and 0.500 ppp on its 6 second chance possessions. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed a weak 31.6% of its misses as offensive rebounds while MISSISSIPPI STATE was able to convert a weak 13.3% of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.
UK hit 1 for 3 free throws in the first half [33.3%]. MISSISSIPPI STATE was 7-7 [100.0%] for the half. Field goal shooting for UK was 12-30 overall [40.0%] and 2-6 from long range [33.3%]. For MISSISSIPPI STATE, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was 8-18 [44.4%] and from long range, MISSISSIPPI STATE hit 6-11 [54.5%].
The Cats committed 6 turnovers, one for every 5.2 possessions. The Cats forced 4 MISSISSIPPI STATE turnovers, one for every 8.2 possessions.
The Cats open the second half with a 3 pointer by Lamb, and after MSU answers with a basket, the Cats score 7 straight to trim the lead to 4 points, 41-37 before MSU stops the run with a basket at the under 16 media timeout, up 6, 45-39. In the second segment, MSU used a technical foul on Davis for hanging on the rim to extend their lead back to 7 points, but the Cats answered with a put back basket by Jones to trim the lead back to 5 points, 50-45, at the under 12 media timeout. Just before the timeout, Moultrie was whistled for a technical foul for hitting Jones in the back of the head following a Kentucky rebound of a missed layup. Therefore, the Cats will be shooting a pair of technical free throws and will have the ball after the timeout.
After the Cats cut the lead to 2 points, 55-53, MSU answered with 5 quick points to go back on top by 7 points, 60-53, forcing another Kentucky timeout with 6:23 to play in the game. Out of the timeout, MSU fouled Miller on a three point shot attempt, so Miller will be shooting 3 free throws after the under 8 media timeout with 6:20 to play in the game. In the abbreviated 4 th segment, Miller made all three free throws, and a 3 pointer as the Cats clawed their way to their first lead of the game, 63-62, at the under 4 media timeout, and Davis will be shooting the 1 and bonus when play resumes.
Out of the timeout, MSU protested that Davis should not be shooting, and the official pulled him from the line for Kidd-Gilchrist. Kidd-Gilchrist converted both, and the Cats then added 3 more points to their 15-2 run to extend their lead to 6 points, 68-62, forcing MSU to call a timeout with 2:04 to play in the game. Out of the timeout, MSU made a jump shot to trim the Kentucky lead to 4 points, and MSU uses another timeout with 1:55 to play. The Cats finish the comeback, and secure their 27 th win in 28 starts, and protect their perfect SEC record with 13-0 and 7 huge road wins in 7 trips from Rupp Arena. Cats win 73-64.
UK scored its 73 points in a total of 62 possessions [1.177 ppp] for the game, and MISSISSIPPI STATE scored its 64 points on a total of 62 possessions [1.032 ppp].
Kentucky won the battle of the boards, 36-32, and Kentucky won the battle of the offensive glass 11-9. Kentucky won the second chance points battle 7-5. MISSISSIPPI STATE had an offensive efficiency of 0.952 ppp on its 62 first chance possessions and 0.556 ppp for its 9 second chance possessions. UK had 1.065 ppp on its 62 first chance possessions and 0.636 ppp on its 11 second chance possessions. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed a low 32.4% of its misses as offensive rebounds while MISSISSIPPI STATE was able to convert 26.5% of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.
-UK hit very well from the free throw line in this game by making 17-21 [81.0%]. MISSISSIPPI STATE made 11-15 [73.3%] for the game. Field goal shooting for UK was 25-57 overall [43.9%] and 6-16 from long range [37.5%]. For MISSISSIPPI STATE, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was a weak 13-34 [38.2%] and from long range, MISSISSIPPI STATE hit 9-20 [45.0%].
The Cats committed 9 turnovers, one for every 6.9 possessions. The Cats forced 12 MISSISSIPPI STATE turnovers, one for every 5.2 possessions.
Prior to the game, the NGE analysis predicted a 9 point UK win, 73-64 at a pace of 68 possessions for UK and 67 possessions for MISSISSIPPI STATE. The final score was 73 (73) to 64 (64) at a pace of 62 possessions for the Cats and 62 possessions for MISSISSIPPI STATE. The UK offensive efficiency for the game was 1.177 (B-) and the UK defensive efficiency was 1.032 ppp (D+).
Next Game On Schedule: February 25, 2012 against Vanderbilt in Rupp Arena.
Submitted by Richard Cheeks
Submitted by Richard Cheeks