BIG BLUE FANS FOR
2011-12 Season Analytical Writings
Ah yes, senior nights. All schools have them, but nowhere does it have the emotional punch as men's basketball senior night in Rupp Arena. This year, the Big Blue Nation will assemble to honor two, Eloy Vargas and Darius Miller. Senior night means that these two young men will not wear the blue and white [or black or gray or silver] in an official game for UK in Rupp Arena again after Thursday's encounter with Georgia. However, it is only March 1, 2012, and for these two seniors, their work as Wildcats will not be complete.
Every season, each class of seniors, have dreams of championships dancing in their heads at this time of year, but few of them can say these dreams are the outcome that most outside of the Big Blue Nation believe is probable. However, for the 2012 Cats, that is exactly the case. The Vegas Professionals say this UK team, led by seniors Miller and Vargas, are 2:1 favorites to win the hardware. These are the most favorable odds for a favorite prior to the tournament in a decade. So, for Miller and Vargas, they will bask in the glow of Rupp's love Thursday and immediately return to the business at hand.
So, the final mile of the Kentucky Marathon begins on Thursday night. The opponent is not Georgia, even though there will be a team in the building wearing those uniforms. The real opponent is Kentucky itself as this team prepares for the final 11 games. Georgia is simply incidental to the process, not a name for the Marquee.
Some will say that Georgia is a dangerous opponent. Well, in one sense, any opponent is dangerous because there is always some chance that the opponent can pull the upset and get out of Rupp Arena with a victory, and in that sense, Georgia may be dangerous. However, in any other sense, Georgia is only an incidental name associated with the night's festivities. These Cats beat this Georgia team at their place last month by 13 points. This Georgia team is 13-15, 4-10. Yes, this team can claim a road win over Mississippi State by 2 points in OT, but as we have all witnessed, Mississippi State is in a tailspin. Yes, this team claims a 14 point home win over #17 Florida on Saturday, Georgia's most impressive win of this season. However, such occurrences in college basketball are proof that upsets occur, not that Georgia is suddenly a power house capable of beating Kentucky in Rupp, because otherwise, how can an observer explain Georgia's losses to #160 South Carolina and #87 LSU within the previous week.
GEORGIA has played 28 games at an average pace of about 63possessions, averaging 61.5 ppg and allowing 62.8 ppg. This translates to an offensive efficiency of 0.981 points per possession and a defensive efficiency of 0.998 ppp. Contributing to those efficiencies are GEORGIA's turnover and rebounding rates. GEORGIA's turnover rate has been 16.7% while they have forced turnovers at a 18.8% rate. On the Boards, GEORGIA's offensive and defensive rebounding rates have been 31.0% and 68.8% respectively. GEORGIA's schedule strength prior to this game is 0.704.
As a basis of comparison, UK's performance against its first 29 opponents produced 67 possessions, and a score of 77.8 to 58.8 ppg for efficiencies of 1.153 ppp and 0.883 ppp on the offensive and defensive ends. Contributing to those efficiencies are Kentucky's turnover and rebounding rates. UK's turnover rate is 17.4% and UK has forced turnovers at a 18.9% rate. On the boards, the Cats posted rates of 38.9% and 68.5% at the offensive and defensive ends. Kentucky's schedule strength prior to this game is 0.639.
The NGE analysis indicates a game played at a pace of about 65 possessions for UK and 65 possessions for GEORGIA with the Cats winning their twenty ninth game in thirty starts this season by 22 points, 76-54. The analysis projects an offensive efficiency of 1.169 ppp and a defensive efficiency of 0.831 ppp.
The Cats won by 30 points, 79-49.
UK scored its 79 points in a total of 59 possessions [1.339 ppp] for the game, and GEORGIA scored its 49 points on a total of 59 possessions [0.831 ppp].
Kentucky won the battle of the boards, 38-29, and Kentucky won the battle of the offensive glass 11-9. Georgia won the second chance points battle 14-11. GEORGIA had an offensive efficiency of 0.593 ppp on its 59 first chance possessions and 1.556 ppp for its 9 second chance possessions. UK had 1.153ppp on its 59 first chance possessions and 1.000 ppp on its 11 second chance possessions. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed a below average 36.5% of its misses as offensive rebounds while GEORGIA was able to convert only 25.0% of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.
UK hit well from the free throw line in this game by making 8-11 [72.7%]. GEORGIA made 8-10 [80.0%] for the game. Field goal shooting for UK was 28-57 overall [49.1%] and 15-27 from long range [55.6%]. For GEORGIA, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was a weak 16-37 [43.2%] and from long range, GEORGIA hit 3-19 [15.8%].
The Cats committed 8 turnovers, one for every 7.4 possessions. The Cats forced 7 GEORGIA turnovers, one for every 8.4 possessions.
Prior to the game, the NGE analysis predicted a 22 point UK win, 76-54 at a pace of 65 possessions for UK and 65 possessions for GEORGIA. The final score was 79 (76) to 49 (54) at a pace of 59 possessions for the Cats and 59 possessions for GEORGIA. The UK offensive efficiency for the game was 1.339(B+) and the UK defensive efficiency was 0.831 ppp (C).
Next Game On Schedule: March 4, 2012 against Florida in Gainesville for the last game of the regular season.
Submitted by Richard Cheeks
Submitted by Richard Cheeks