BIG BLUE FANS FOR
2011-12 Season Analytical Writings
There is something to be said for surviving and advancing during March Madness, and on Thursday night, the #1 Kentucky Wildcats did just that and sent Western Kentucky back down I 65 to Bowling Green to begin their off season. Few if any expected any other result from this 1-16 matchup, but the final score, and the manner at which the teams arrived there was at least a little surprising, at least to this observer. WKU and Kentucky fought on overall even terms for the first 8 minutes of the game, but then Kentucky's superior talent on the floor took hold, and the Cats methodically built a 32 point lead spanning the remainder of the first half and the first 10 minutes of the second half, 74-42. Then the teams played on even terms for the next 5 minutes to a 30 point Kentucky lead, 80-50.
Then comes the surprise, because over those last few minutes, it appeared that Kentucky quit playing, mailed in the results to the scorer's table, and allowed WKU to score at will, as WKU finished on a 16-1 run for the final 15 point margin, 81-66. Early this season, this Kentucky team had several games in which it allowed opponents to close comfortable in game margins to much closer final margins in the waning minutes of the games. At that time, I developed a level of concern that this team needed to eliminate that tendency from its psyche, and close games with energy that would expand leads in the closing minutes rather than accept the victory, albeit by much smaller final margins.
Through the SEC Tournament, and in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, this team shows signs of reversion. The trend is downward at a time that champions want to establish trends that are rising. For this team, the time is now because all opponents that will appear in Kentucky's path beginning with Round 2 have the ability to send the Cats home if the Cats do not take care of business.
Next up for the journey is Iowa State. Iowa State comes to this game with a 23-10 record, and the advances to the second round by virtue of their 13 point win over defending champion UConn on Thursday night in Louisville. ISU's most impressive win of the season has been a 8 point win over #4 Kansas. Their most embarrassing losses has been at #141 Drake by 9 in the second game of this season and to #91 Northern Iowa by 7.
IOWA STATE has played 33 games at an average pace of about 68 possessions, averaging 73.3 ppg and allowing 66.6 ppg. This translates to an offensive efficiency of 1.083 points per possession and a defensive efficiency of 0.977 ppp. Contributing to those efficiencies are IOWA STATE's turnover and rebounding rates. IOWA STATE's turnover rate has been 18.5% while they have forced turnovers at a 17.1% rate. On the Boards, IOWA STATE's offensive and defensive rebounding rates have been 32.4% and 73.8% respectively. IOWA STATE's schedule strength prior to this game is 0.685.
As a basis of comparison, UK's performance against its first 34 opponents produced 66 possessions, and a score of 76.8 to 59.2 ppg for efficiencies of 1.152 ppp and 0.895 ppp on the offensive and defensive ends. Contributing to those efficiencies are Kentucky's turnover and rebounding rates. UK's turnover rate is 17.1% and UK has forced turnovers at a 18.0% rate. On the boards, the Cats posted rates of 38.2% and 69.2% at the offensive and defensive ends. Kentucky's schedule strength prior to this game is 0.658
The NGE analysis indicates a game played at a pace of about 67 possessions for UK and 67 possessions for IOWA STATE with the Cats winning their thirty fourth game in thirty six starts this season by 10 points, 74-64. The analysis projects an offensive efficiency of 1.104 ppp and a defensive efficiency of 0.955 ppp.
Coach Calipari uses his usual starting lineup with Darius Miller taking the 6 th man role for the game. Sophomores Terrence Jones and Doron Lamb along with the three freshmen Marquis Teague, Kidd-Gilchrist, and Anthony Davis. Kidd-Gilchrist 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.
ISU wins the opening tip and draws first blood on a post move by Royce White, working on Terrence Jones, but the Cats respond with 3 for 5 shooting to propel them to a 7-0 prompting ISU to call a quick timeout. Out of the timeout, ISU begins to work their offense on the inside, and get 2 dunks and a driving layup, drawing a foul from Miller at the under 16 media timeout, with the Cats leading 11-8 and ISU shooting a free throw to complete the 3 point play when play resumes. The first 4 minute segment had 8 ISU possessions and 7 UK possessions. ISU used its 8 possessions for 8 points, with an opportunity to tack on a 9 th point. Kentucky scored 11.
Out of the timeout, ISU converts the free throw, and after the teams trade baskets to a UK lead at 13-11, the Cats go on a 9 point run on three straight 3 pointers, two by Miller and one by Wiltjer, to double the score on ISU at 22-11, prompting an ISU timeout with 11:27 to play. During the timeout, the official take one of the Miller 3 pointers down due to a foot on the line, reducing the score to 21-11. After the timeout, there is a loose ball scramble, and the ball goes out off of UK, leading to the under 12 media timeout with 11:16 to play in the first half. In the first 9 minutes, each team has had 14 possessions, and the pace is on a high 60s pace.
Out of the timeout, the Cats add 2 more points to their run for a 12 point lead, 23-11, but ISU had an answer, going on a run of their own, 11-3, forcing Coach Calipari to call a timeout with 6:59 to play, with a 4 point lead, 26-22. The Cats outscore the Cyclones 4-2 to the under 4 media timeout with 3:23 to play in the first half holding on to a 6 point lead, 30-24. Out of the timeout, ISU trims the lead to 4 points again, 30-26, but the Cats close the half with an 8-1 run to take an 11 point lead to the locker room, 38-27.
UK scored its 38 points in 31 possessions [1.226 points per possession] for the half, and IOWA STATE scored its 27 points on a total of 31 possessions [0.871 ppp]. Kentucky won the boards in the first half, 21-10 in total rebounds, and Kentucky controlled the offensive rebounds 7-2. Kentucky used its second chances to win the second chance points race, 7-0. IOWA STATE had an offensive efficiency of 0.871 ppp on its 31 first chance possessions and 0.000 ppp for its 2 second chance possessions. UK had 1.000 ppp on its 31 first chance possessions and 1.000 ppp on its 7 second chance possessions. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed an average 46.7% of its misses as offensive rebounds while IOWA STATE was able to convert 12.5% of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.
UK hit 4 for 4 free throws in the first half [100.0%]. IOWA STATE was 6-7 [85.7%] for the half. Field goal shooting for UK was 15-31 overall [48.4%] and 4-13 from long range [30.8%]. For IOWA STATE, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was 9-18 [50.0%] and from long range, IOWA STATE hit 1-8 [12.5%].
The Cats committed 5 turnovers, one for every 6.2 possessions. The Cats forced 4 IOWA STATE turnovers, one for every 7.8 possessions.
The Cats opened the second half with a weak effort on offense by Jones, and White drives on Jones at the other end for a dunk, drawing Coach Calipari's ire, and a timeout with 19:32 to play, and the lead trimmed to 9 points, 38-29. Out of the timeout, the Cats have another empty trip and ISU cuts another 3 points from the lead at the other end with a 3 point play. On the third possession, the same outcome as the first, an another White dunk to cut the halftime 11 point lead to 4 points, 38-34, prompting Coach Calipari's second timeout of the half with only 1:32 gone in the second half. After Lamb finally puts up the Cats' first points of the second half with a 3 pointer, White again drives to the basket and scores with another 3 point play to keep the lead at 4 points. Before the game reached the under 16 media timeout, ISU tied the score at 42-42, on 5-5 shooting inside the lane, and 1-2 shooting from outside the arc, coupled with 2-2 from the line. In the first 7 possessions of the second half, the Cyclones outscored the Cats 15-6 and the Cats are left clinging to a 2 point lead, 44-42, and ISU has possession.
The 15 point out burst by the Cyclones must be one of the worst 4 minute segments, defensively, by this Kentucky this entire season. Out of the timeout, ISU missed a layup, and Miller drained a jump shot as the shot clock expired, and after another ISU miss, Terrence Jones drives the length of the court and delivers a lob to a fast breaking Anthony Davis, prompting an ISU timeout with 14:25 to play and the Cats up by 6 points, 48-42. Out of the timeout, the Cats work hard on both ends of the court to extend their lead back to 9 points, 53-44, prompting another ISU timeout with 12:35 to play in the game.
Out of the timeout, the Cats eventually stop the Cyclones again even though they got 4 shots at the basket before turning the ball over on a 3 second call. On the next possession, Teague scored under the basket off a Davis assist, and will be shooting a free throw to complete the 3 point play after the under 12 media timeout with the Cats back on top by their 11 point halftime lead, 55-44 and a chance to match their biggest lead of the game if Teague can convert the free throw. Teague misses the free throw, and White drives to the basket at the other end, but loses the ball out of bounds. The ISU bench reacts to the turnover and draws a technical foul. Davis makes both of the technical free throws for the longest lead of the night, 13 points, 57-44
In the third segment, the Cats continue to expand their lead, reaching a 20 point lead at the under 8 media timeout and 7:11 to play. The score is 72-52, and White will be shooting free throws when play resumes. At the last media timeout, with 2:55 to play, the Cats are in possession with a 19 point lead, 84-65. Cats win 87-71.
UK scored its 87 points in 66 possessions [1.318 ppp] for the game, and IOWA STATE scored its 71 points on 67 possessions [1.060 ppp].
KENTUCKY won the battle of the boards, 40-31, but ISU and Kentucky battled to a 12-12 tie on the offensive glass. ISU used their second chance possessions to win the second chance points battle 13-10. IOWA STATE had an offensive efficiency of 0.866 ppp on its 67 first chance possessions and 1.083 ppp for its 12-second chance possessions. UK had 1.167 ppp on its 66 first chance possessions and 0.833 ppp on its 12 second chance possessions. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed an average 38.7% of its misses as offensive rebounds while IOWA STATE was able to convert 30.0% of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.
UK hit well from the free throw line in this game by making 15-22 [68.2%]. IOWA STATE made 18-25 [72.0%] for the game. Field goal shooting for UK was 31-56 overall [55.4%] and 10-20 from long range [50.0%]. For IOWA STATE, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was a strong 22-39 [56.4%] and from long range, IOWA STATE hit 3-22 [13.6%].
The Cats committed 11 turnovers, one for every 6.0 possessions. The Cats forced 7 IOWA STATE turnovers, one for every 9.6 possessions.
Prior to the game, the NGE analysis predicted a 10 point UK win, 74-64 at a pace of 67 possessions for UK and 67 possessions for IOWA STATE. The final score was 87 (74) to 71 (64) at a pace of 66 possessions for the Cats and 67 possessions for IOWA STATE. The Cats' offensive efficiency was 1.318 ppp (A) and the Cats' defensive efficiency was 1.060 ppp (D+).
Next Game On Schedule: Friday in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament against Indiana, and an opportunity to avenge the Cats only regular season loss.
Submitted by Richard Cheeks
Submitted by Richard Cheeks