2012-13 Season Analytical Writings

Cats Host Sean Woods' Morehead Eagles For Thanksgiving

Sean Woods is one of us, and always will be one of our own. The Big Blue Nation will be in his corner as he moves up the coaching ranks, a path that has led him to coach the Morehead State Eagles, a mere 60 miles from Lexington and Rupp Arena. On Wednesday night, Sean will bring his current basketball family to celebrate Thanksgiving with his brothers in arms at the University of Kentucky. Welcome home Sean, and we will give Thanks together on Thursday, but on Wednesday evening, we hope you don't find your chair on the visitor's bench too comfortable.

After the first three games, the Cats are still struggling to find their team identity, and the absence of Ryan Harrow is making the search more difficult because everyone involved fully expects Ryan's return will affect that identity in ways that no one can quite anticipate, other than to say it will be a positive impact. Nevertheless, these Cats have grown by leaps and bounds over the course of a mere 9 days. On November 9, the Cats looked like a group of freshmen who had just met, and needed a calm contribution from Jarrod Polson to pull a win from the jaws of defeat against Maryland. Harrow played, but it was evident from his 10 minutes of court time that he probably should not have done so.

Four days later, the Cats moved to the Atlanta stage to meet a veteran and highly ranked Duke team. Following the Maryland show, and with the knowledge that Ryan could not even make the trip to Atlanta, many fans, including this fan, feared a huge defeat, and only hoped for a game that provided an opportunity to win in the final 4 minutes. The former did not occur, even though Duke flirted with the possibility, but these Cats showed great growth, and had the ball down 3 inside the 3 minute mark before losing by 7. The Big Blue Nation is seldom at ease with a lose, and every member would have preferred that the 3 point attempt to tie would have gone in and the Cats could have found the way to win. However, the game showed everyone that the team had grown considerably in 4 days, even without Harrow's presence, and with the upside that clearly remains for this Kentucky team, we would welcome a rematch with Duke in March.

Three days later, the Cats opened the home season against Morehead as heavy favorites to get back on the winning track. Pomeroy figured the game as a 28 point Kentucky win, as did my NGE analysis. The Vegas boys refused to put the game on the line. I had hope that Kentucky's growth would be sufficient since Duke to at least match the model projected margin after back to back games that fell short of the model by about 10 to 15 points. Again, Ryan could not go, and the Cats showed a degree of growth that few if anyone expected, nearly doubling the projected 28 point margin and winning by 52 points.

Coach Calipari knows how to coach, and the growth we are witnessing with this team is proof positive of that fact. Pomeroy started the year with the Cats in his #1 position. 9 days, and 3 games later, the shaky start dropped them to #2, and this team's potential remains light years above its current game performance levels. That is why the Big Blue Nation can give Thanks on Thursday for April's National Championship and for the current state of the Kentucky Basketball Program. Sean Woods' is a member of the family, and I am confident that he will share in giving those Thanks on Thursday too.

However, make no mistake, Sean Woods' Eagles will come into Rupp Arena on Wednesday night determined to make a good showing, and get out of Rupp with a win of their own if possible. So, until Thursday morning, Sean must be regarded as any enemy that walks into the Cats' domain.

Last year, Morehead finished the season 18-15, rated #189 losing to Tennessee State in the second round of the Ohio Valley Tournament against a schedule rated as the 241 st toughest in D1 basketball. This year, Morehead has opened like Kentucky with two wins and one loss, and one of the two wins came at the expense of Alice Lloyd College. Morehead defeated future UK opponent Long Island by 3 points in Brooklyn, and lost at Maryland by 22 points. In their first two D1 games, Morehead has played at an average pace of about 71 possession, scoring 61.0 ppg (0.853 ppp) while allowing 70.5 ppg (0.993ppp) against an early schedule rated as the 71 st toughest (0.7254). Morehead's turnover rate has been 27.3% while forcing opponents to turn the b all over on 25.4% of the possessions. Morehead's rebounding rates have been 57.5% on the defensive glass and 40.3% on the offensive glass.

Kentucky, by comparison, the Cats have played the 117 th toughest early schedule (0.6182), and the Cats have played at an average pace of about 69 possessions per game, producing 80.3ppg (1.161 ppp) and allowing 64.3 ppg (0.932 ppp). The Cats' turnover rate has been 16.9% while they have forced opponent turnovers only 22.7% of possessions. On the boards, the Cats have gotten 60.3% of the rebounds on the defensive end and 30.5% of the rebounds at the offensive end.

Based on this distribution, the analysis tips in favor of the Cats by 30 points, 84-54 in a game played with about 70 possessions. Pomeroy figures the Game in Kentucky's favor by 22 points, 74-52 at a pace of 62 possessions.. In my view, a Kentucky win by 25 points or more will bode well, and a win by less than 15 points will signal a setback in the development of this team.

Game Summary:

Ryan Harrow will not play again tonight, and the word from the Kentucky camp is that Ryan has returned home with his mother due to family issues. Coach Calipari will use the same starting 5 as he did against Duke and Lafayette when the three freshmen, Noel, Goodwin, and Poythress, start with Kyle Wiltjer and Julius Mays. Goodwin will start the game at the point. Coach Calipari will use Cauley-Stein and Polson first off the bench, but has said that Jon Hood will get an opportunity to earn some playing time, and Beckham will be available for minutes to test his healing back.

The Cats controlled the tip, but the Cats missed their first 2 three point attempts (Wiltjer and Mays) before Goodwin and Noel began to assert themselves inside for a 6-0 lead, prompting a Morehead timeout. After the timeout, Morehead scored on back to back possessions, while Kentucky commits its first turnover of the game to allow Morehead to pull back to within 2 points, 6-4 at the under 16 media timeout. Out of the timeout, the Cats failed to score on 8 possessions, committing 4 turnovers on the 8 trips while Morehead added 9 points to their 4 point run at the end of the first segment to move on top of the Cats 13-6 at the under 12 media timeout.

The Cats are being outworked on the boards at both ends, and have committed 5 turnovers to none for Morehead. Morehead will put the ball into play after the timeout. Morehead hit another 3 pointer to go up by 10 points before Goodwin makes a pair of free throws to end a 6 minute scoring drought. A put back basket by Noel trims the lead to 6 points before Morehead returns the favor at the other end to close the scoring in the 3 rd segment with Morehead up by 8 points, 18-10. Goodwin will be shooting a pair of free throws when play resumes.

In the fourth segment, the Cats get 2 points on four free throw attempts by Goodwin, but Morehead made a 2 point and 3 point basket to extend the lead to a game high 11 points, prompting Coach Calipari to call a timeout down 23-12 with 6:09 to play in the first half. Over the balance of the segment, the Cats get 8 points to Morehead's 4 to trim the lead from 11 to 7, 27-20, at the under 4 media timeout. The Cats finish the first half with a 12-3 run in the final segment to take a 1 point lead to the locker room, 32-31. After a very shaky start that found the Cats down 11, 23-12 with less than 6:09 to play, the Cats finished strong with a 20-8 run over the final 6 minutes.

UK scored its 32 points in a total of 35 possessions for the half, and MOREHEAD scored its 31 points on a total of 34 possessions. Kentucky WON the boards, with a rebounding edge 20-19, but Morehead controlled the offensive glass, 7-3, resulting in a 7-4 advantage in second chance points. MOREHEAD had an offensive efficiency of 0.912 ppp on its 34 first chance possessions and 1.000 ppp for its 7 second chance possessions. UK had 0.800 ppp on its 35 first chance possessions and 1.333 ppp on its 3 second chance possessions. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed a very weak 20.0% of its misses as offensive rebounds while MOREHEAD was able to convert 29.2% of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.

UK hit well from the free throw line in this half, after making only 4 of their first 8 attempts, the Cats finished the half 6-6 and 10-14 (71.4%) overall. MOREHEAD made 2.2 [100.0%] for the half. Field goal shooting for UK was 11-24 overall [45.8%] but 0-4 from long range [0.0%]. For MOREHEAD, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was a strong 10-22 [45.5%] and from long range, MOREHEAD hit 3-15 [20.0%].

The Cats committed 6turnovers, one for every 5.8 possessions; however, the Cats committed 5 of their 6 turnovers in that ugly first 8 minutes, and only 1 turnover over the balance of the first half. The Cats forced 3 MOREHEAD turnovers, one for every 11.3 possessions.

Second Half:

The Cats open the second half much the same way they opened the game with back to back turnovers, and on their second trip down, Morehead made a second chance 3 pointer, forcing Coach Calipari to call an early second half timeout with 19:18 left on the clock and the Cats down by a pair of points, 34-32. Morehead continued to surge going up by as many as 6 points, 44-38, before a pair of Goodwin free throws trimmed the lead back to 4 points, 44-40 at the under 16 media timeout. In the second segment, the Cats made a living at the line, making 9 of 11 shots, and added 2 for 4 shooting from the floor to ease on top of Morehead by 3 points, 53-50 at the under 12 media timeout. Polson will be shooting a pair of free throws when play resumes.

In the third segment, Polson made both free throws, and May added a 3 pointer, Kentucky's first of the night, and a layup to push the Cats on top by 10 points, 60-50, prompting a Morehead timeout with 10:19 to play. The teams finish the segment with the Cats hanging to an 8 point lead, 65-57. Goodwin will be shooting free throws when the under 8 media timeout ends.

In the fourth segment, the Cats re-establish a 10 point lead, 67-57, but Morehead responds with back to back baskets to trim the lead to 6 points with 6:31 to play. The Cats extend their lead to a game high 12 points, 75-63 at the under 4 media timeout with 3:43 to play. The Cats will be shooting free throws after the timeout. Kentucky survives a tough battle from Morehead, 81-70.


UK scored its 81 points in 72 possessions [1.13 ppp] for the game, and MOREHEAD scored its 70 points on 70 possessions [1.00 ppp].

Kentucky won the boards, with a rebounding edge 37-35, but Morehead owned the offensive glass with a 16-8 offensive rebounding advantage. MOREHEAD converted its 16second chance possessions into 15 second chance points while Kentucky converted their 8 second chance possessions to score 7 second chance points. MOREHEAD had an offensive efficiency of 0.786 ppp on its 70 first chance possessions and 0.938 ppp for its 16 second chance possessions. UK had 1.028 ppp on its 72 first chance possessions and 0.875 ppp on its 8 second chance possessions. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed a weak 29.6% of its misses as offensive rebounds while MOREHEAD was able to convert a strong 35.6% of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.

UK hit well from the free throw line in this game, making 31-41 [75.6%]. MOREHEAD made 14-16 [87.5%] for the game. Field goal shooting for UK was 24-47 overall [51.1%] and 2-10 from long range [20.0%]. For MOREHEAD, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was a strong 19-44 [43.2%] and from long range, MOREHEAD hit 6-24 [25.0%].

The Cats who committed 13 turnovers, one for every 5.5 possessions. The Cats forced 9 MOREHEAD turnovers, one for every 7.8 possessions.

Prior to the game, the NGE analysis predicted a 30 point UK win, 84-54 at a pace of 71 possessions for each team. The final score was 81 (84) to 70 (54) at a pace of 72 possessions for the Cats and 70 possessions for MOREHEAD. The UK offensive efficiency for the game was 1.125 ppp (1.123 ppp) and the UK defensive efficiency was 1.000 ppp (0.859 ppp).

Next Game On Schedule: Friday night against Long Island at Rupp Arena.

Submitted by Richard Cheeks


Submitted by Richard Cheeks


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