BIG BLUE FANS FOR
2011-12 Season Analytical Writings
As distant as March 4, 2012 seemed back on October 15, 2011, it now seems as if it was just yesterday when we all fantasized and speculated about how this season would actually play out. As optimistic as 28-3; 14-2 seemed in October, as readily we all would have accepted that record if we could have fast forwarded to March 4, 2012 without risking injury or further losses, that projection has proven to be too conservative, e.g. not bold enough. The reason, the Cats now stand at 29-1; 15-0, and the worst they will finish is one loss less than that pre-season prediction, and potentially with 2 less losses, an amazing 30-1; 16-0.
Since 1954, only three SEC teams have navigated a regular season SEC schedule without a single loss. This team is in position to become the 4 th team to achieve that result. Furthermore, if my recollection is right, only one previous UK team has ever stood with only one loss after playing 30 games, the 1948-49 national champions. This team has an opportunity that comes to few teams, ever, anywhere, and because of that, this season finale carries great importance for the Cats.
On this point, I was also wrong in my pre-season discussion because I envision the Cats entering Gainesville with 2 losses and the SEC championship in hand. I envisioned this game meaning little to either Kentucky or Florida beyond the usual matter of pride. I am not sure how much importance this game carries for the Gators beyond pride, but for these Cats, this game means Pride Plus. While Kentucky is a team hitting its stride at just the right time of the season, Florida is in a bit of a tailspin as it tries to move from the regular season into the post season. About 10 days ago, they lost Sophomore Will Yeguete to injury, and at 6-7, he was one of their key front court contributors on a team that is guard rich, but shy a couple of interior bangers to begin, and since Yeguete's injury, the Gators have dropped their last 2 games, at Georgia by 14 and at Vanderbilt by 10.
FLORIDA has played 30 games at an average pace of about 67 possessions, averaging 77.4 ppg and allowing 65.6 ppg. This translates to an offensive efficiency of 1.155 points per possession and a defensive efficiency of 0.980 ppp. Contributing to those efficiencies are FLORIDA's turnover and rebounding rates. FLORIDA's turnover rate has been 16.9% while they have forced turnovers at a 20.2% rate. On the Boards, FLORIDA's offensive and defensive rebounding rates have been 34.6% and 69.4% respectively. FLORIDA's schedule strength prior to this game is 0.653.
As a basis of comparison, UK's performance against its first 30 opponents produced 67 possessions, and a score of 77.8 to 58.5 ppg for efficiencies of 1.166 ppp and 0.876 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 18.5% rate. On the boards, the Cats posted rates of 38.8% and 68.7% at the offensive and defensive ends. Kentucky's schedule strength prior to this game is 0.635.
The NGE analysis indicates a game played at a pace of about 67 possessions for UK and 67 possessions for FLORIDA with the Cats winning their thirtieth game in thirty one starts this season by 1 points, 70-69. The analysis projects an offensive efficiency of 1.045 ppp and a defensive efficiency of 1.036 ppp.
After deviating from his customary starting lineup for Senior Night to allow Eloy and Darius their traditional senior starts, Coach Calipari returns to his standard winning combination for the season finale. 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 open on a run of 8-2, with Terrence Jones scoring all the Kentucky points before Lamb broke into the scoring column on a 3 pointer. However, at roaring to an 11-4 lead in the first 3 minutes, the Gators responded with a 8-2 run of their own to pull within 1 point, 13-12, at the under 16 media timeout with 14-13, but the Cats responded with 6 straight points, 4 by Miller, to extend their lead back to 5 point, 19-14, at the under 12 timeout with 11:47 play, a timeout called by the Gators. Out of the timeout, the Gators missed a 3 pointer, and the ball rebounded out of bounds to the under 12 media timeout and the score remaining 19-14 and the Cats in possession.
In the first 8 minutes, each team has had 14 possessions, and the Cats have an efficiency of 1.357 ppp compared to 1.000 for the Gators. Out of the timeout, the Cats continue their run and extend it to 12-0 before the Gators score again, but the Cats responded with a Wiltjer 3 pointer to lead 28-16 at the under 8 media timeout on a phantom foul by Lamb, Kentucky's first foul of the game, and 7:27 to play in the first half. In the 4 th segment, the Cats use perfect 4-4 shooting to extend their lead to 14 points, 36-22 when Jones steals the ball and calls a timeout to protect the possession at the 4:32 mark of the first half. Out of the timeout, Jones gets a put back basket to left the Cats up by 16 before the Gators made their 3 rd 3 pointer of the day prompting another Kentucky timeout with the Cats up by 13, 38-25.
Out of the timeout, the Gators turn back to back missed Kentucky shots into 5 more points and trim the one time 16 point lead to 8 points at the under 4 media timeout with 1:22 to play with the score 40-32 and the Cats in possession. The teams play out the final 1:22 scoreless and the Cats lead at the half by 8, 40-32.
UK scored its 40 points in a total of 33 possessions [1.212 points per possession] for the half, and FLORIDA scored its 32 points on a total of 32 possessions [1.000 ppp]. Kentucky controlled the boards in the first half, 18-13 in total rebounds and 6-3 on the offensive boards. Kentucky used its offensive rebounds to produce a 8-6 advantage on second chance points. FLORIDA had an offensive efficiency of 0.813 ppp on its 32 first chance possessions and 2.000 ppp for its 3 second chance possessions. UK had 0.970 ppp on its 33 first chance possessions and 1.333 ppp on its 6 second chance possessions. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed an average 37.5% of its misses as offensive rebounds while FLORIDA was able to convert a weak 20.0% of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.
UK hit 0 for 1 free throws in the first half [0.0%]. FLORIDA was 4-4 [100.0%] for the half. Field goal shooting for UK was 19-35 overall [54.3%] and 2-6 from long range [33.3%]. For FLORIDA, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was 8-17 [47.1%] and from long range, FLORIDA hit 4-10 [40.0%].
The Cats committed 4 turnovers, one for every 8.2 possessions. The Cats forced 6 FLORIDA turnovers, one for every 5.3 possessions.
The Gators open the second half with a flurry, and continue the 10-2 run that they ended the first half to trim the Kentucky lead to just 2 points, 46-44, with 16:29 to play in the game, forcing a Kentucky timeout. The game is on, and this one is likely to go to the final segment before either team can put the other away. In the second segment of the second half, the Cats ease their lead back to 7 points, 54-47, at the under 12 media timeout. In the third segment, the Cats extend their lead to 9 points, and possession, 64-55, with 7:13 to play in the game at the under 8 media timeout.
In the 4 th segment, the Cats extended their lead to a game high 13 points before a pair of Gator free throws stopped another Cat run to trim the lead to 11 points, 68-57 at the under 4 timeout with 3:50 to play and the Cats in possession. The Cats finish the job, getting out of Gainesville 30-1; 16-0 with a 15 point win, 74-59.
UK scored its 74 points in a total of 59 possessions [1.254 ppp] for the game, and FLORIDA scored its 59 points on a total of 57 possessions [1.035 ppp].
Kentucky won the battle of the boards, 36-30, and Kentucky won the battle of the offensive glass 11-9. Kentucky won the second chance points battle 16-10. FLORIDA had an offensive efficiency of 0.860 ppp on its 57 first chance possessions and 1.111 ppp for its 9 second chance possessions. UK had 0.983 ppp on its 59 first chance possessions and 1.455 ppp on its 11 second chance possessions. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed a below average 34.4% of its misses as offensive rebounds while FLORIDA was able to convert only 26.5% of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.
UK hit poorly from the free throw line in this game by making 7-11 [63.6%]. FLORIDA made 11-11 [100.0%] for the game. Field goal shooting for UK was 31-59 overall [52.5%] and 5-12 from long range [41.7%]. For FLORIDA, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was a weak 15-32 [46.9%] and from long range, FLORIDA hit 6-22 [27.3%].
The Cats committed 6 turnovers, one for every 9.8 possessions. The Cats forced 7 FLORIDA turnovers, one for every 8.1 possessions.
Prior to the game, the NGE analysis predicted a 1 point UK win, 70-69 at a pace of 67 possessions for UK and 67 possessions for FLORIDA. The final score was 74 (70) to 59 (69) at a pace of 59 possessions for the Cats and 57 possessions for FLORIDA. The UK offensive efficiency for the game was 1.254(A) and the UK defensive efficiency was 1.035 ppp (C).
Next Game On Schedule: March 9, 2012 against the winner of the SEC Tournament's first round game between LSU and Arkansas in New Orleans.
Submitted by Richard Cheeks
Submitted by Richard Cheeks