2012-13 Season Analytical Writings

This Is It; The Main Event
Cats and Cards

Yes, Big Blue fans, the more things change, the more they remain the same. A small dose of recent history may help place this year's edition of this Battle of the Bluegrass into clearer context.

Two years ago, the Cats ventured into the Yum Center with two losses and many question marks. The Cards placed its 11-1 record on the line, and entered the game a single digit favorite to even the newest rendition of the Calipari-Pitino rivalry at one game each. However, the Cats rode Josh Harrellson's back to a huge 15 point road win, 78-63, a swing of 19 points in the Cats' favor, predicted to actual. Calipari 2; Pitino 0.

A year ago, the Cats and Cards entered their annual bragging rights game with the Cats perched atop the college basketball world, poised for a run that would eventually bring #8 to Lexington. The Cards were not chopped liver, and fought their way to a final four rematch against the Cats. The Cats entered the battle of the Bluegrass at Rupp a solid 14 point favorite, but the Cards showed their fight and kept the game in single digits, finally yielding to the eventual NCAA Champions by 7 points, 69-62, a swing of 7 points in the Cards' favor, predicted to actual. Calipari 3; Pitino 0.

Add the Final Four encounter to the storyline, another Cats win, 69-61, and we have the current tally, Calipari 4; Pitino 0.

Yes, Calipari 4; Pitino 0!!!

A year ago, prior to the game, I observed that over the “course of a 31 game college basketball season, there are only a handful of games each year the really matter, and when the Cats and Cards square off, that game must be included in the count regardless of the scheduled date, hour, or venue. This is it, the main event. … How can any amount of preparation be enough? How can any amount of hype be too much? Two of the marquee programs of the sport, located 90 miles apart, sporting two of the bigger than life head coaches, representing two of the most rabid fan bases known to exist within a single state.”

So, here again, the Cats will enter the Yum Center with more losses (3 this time) than Louisville, and more question marks than answers. The Cards will again host this event with an 11-1 record, and a solid favorite to end the recent Calipari run, and keep the 2012-13 Cards near the top of the current college basketball landscape. As you will see below, this year's NGE analysis is a mirror image of last seasons. Last year, the Cats entered the game as a 14 point favorite. This year, the Cards will enter this game as a 15 point favorite. Last year, the Cards extended the homestanding Cats to the end before the Cats could secure a 7 point home win. Two years ago, the Cats' Yum Center performance was an impressive 19 points stronger than the NGE pre-game analysis, and this year, it will take that level of performance by the Cats to get out of the Yum Center with the win instead of their 4 th loss of this young season.

Louisville has opened the season with eleven wins in twelve starts. The Cards' only loss came at the hands of #3 Duke on a neutral floor by 5 points. The Cards claim wins over #21 Missouri (neutral) by 23 points, #41 Illinois State (home) by 3 points, and #48 Memphis (away) by 9 points, after erasing a 16-point deficit. The Cards and the Cats have played two common opponents. Each team has sustained neutral court losses to Duke (Louisville by 5 points, and the Cats by 8 points), and each team claims a home win over #307 Samford (Louisville by 26 points, Kentucky by 32 points). However, as any objective review of this grudge match will demonstrate, these teams usually find a way to render the pre-game records less relevant.

Louisville has averaged about 70 possessions per game, producing 78.1 ppg (1.11 ppp) and allowing 55.5 ppg (0.80 ppp) against an early schedule that Pomeroy rates as the 120 th toughest (0..5624). Louisville has turned the ball over on 18.2% of its possessions while forcing turnovers on an impressive 30.7% of opponent possessions. On the Boards, Louisville has secured an offensive rebounding rate of 39.9%, about 7% above the 33% NCAA average, and a defensive rebounding rate of 70.2%, also about 7% above the NCAA average.

In contrast, the Cats have averaged about 71 possessions per game, producing 78.5 ppg (1.10 ppp) and allowing 61.1 ppg (0.87 ppp) against a schedule strength of 0..5040 (196 th ). The Cats have committed turnovers on 17.3% of its possessions and forced turnovers on 21.8% of opponent possessions. On the Boards, the Cats' rebounding rates have been 34.3% and 69.4% on the offensive and defensive ends.

Based on this distribution, the analysis tips in favor of the Cards by 15 points, 76-61 in a game played at a pace of 70 possessions for the Cats and 70 possessions for Louisville. Pomeroy figures the Game in Louisville's favor by 9 points, 71-62 at a pace of 71 possessions. From my perspective, a Louisville margin on Saturday of more than 20 points would not bode in the Cats' final exam. However, if the Cats are able to keep this game in single digits, and within 1 or 2 possessions within the final 4 minute segment, I will be impressed that the Cats are accepting the challenges. A Kentucky victory at the Yum Center will send a message to the rest of the basketball world that the Cats intend to defend their title zealously.

Game Summary:

Since his return to the team, Ryan Harrow has appeared in 5 games, logging 9 minutes at Notre Dame, 18 against Baylor, 21 against Samford, 25 minutes against Portland, 31 against Lipscomb, and 33 minutes against Marshall. During this return to action, Ryan Harrow's offensive production has begun to surge after a very tentative beginning. He scored on 2 points in the games against Notre Dame, Baylor, and Samford. However, in the last 3 starts, he had contributed 8, 12, and 23 points respectively, and the last two as a starter.

Jon Hood continues to struggle with a throat infection that kept him out of action in the last game, and his status today remains uncertain an hour prior to tipoff. There have been whispers from the Kentucky camp the last 2 days that Willie Cauley-Stein will enter the starting lineup today and Alex Poythress will come from the bench.

Coach Calipari will use the three freshmen, Nerlens Noel, Archie Goodwin , and Willie Cauley-Stein starting with Ryan Harrow and Julius Mays. Coach Calipari will use Alex Poythress, Kyle Wiltjer , and Jarrod Polson off the bench.

Kentucky controlled the tip and drew first blood with a Harrow floater in the lane. However, Louisville answered with back to back baskets before the Cats put together 5 straight points for a 7-4 early lead. Louisville scored the next 4 points to ease out to an early 8-7 lead at the under 16 media timeout. Out of the timeout, Louisville scores again following a Kentucky miss to extended their lead to 3 points, but Kyle Wiltjer hit a 3 pointer to tie. In the second segment Djieng and Willie Cauley-Stein each picked up their second fouls. After Louisville eased back on top by 2 points, the Cats scored 8 straight to take the largest lead of the first half, 6 points, 18-12, but Louisville answered with back to back baskets to trim the Kentucky lead to 2 points, prompting Coach Calipari to take a timeout, to end a protracted second segment with 9:08 to play and the Cats clinging to a 2 point lead, 18-16 at the under 12 media timeout.

In the abbreviated 3 rd segment, the Cats turned the ball over on its only three possessions, and Louisville used the turnovers to continue its run and reestablish its 2 point lead, 20-18 at the under 8 media timeout and 7:07 to play in the first half. The Cats will have the ball, and Coach Calipari must calm his players down during this timeout to the level that only produced 1 turnover in the first 11 minutes as compared to the 3 turnovers in the last 2 minutes.

Out of the timeout, the Cats did manage to end a possession with a shot attempt, but Louisville advanced the rebound down the floor quickly and moved up by 4 points, Louisville's biggest lead of the game. On the ensuing inbounds play, UK could not get it in, and was forced into a timeout. After the timeout, Louisville continues to extend its lead, to 5 points, 25-20. Kentucky answered with a put back after Alex Poythress missed a pair of free throws, and a 3 pointer by Harrow, but Louisville responded with 5 straight of its own to regain their 5 point lead, 30-25 at the under 4 media timeout with 2:39 to play in the first half.

In the final segment, the Cards extend their lead to 8 points, 35-27 before Poythress makes 1 of 2 free throws to stop the mini-run. The Cats go to the locker room down 8 points at the half, 36-28.

UK scored its 28 points in a total of 32 possessions for the half, and LOUISVILLE scored its 36 points on a total of 32 possessions. The teams battled to a 19-19 tie on the boards, but Kentucky managed a 1 rebound advantage, 7-6, on the offensive glass in the first half. The Cats used their offensive rebounds to gain a 9-6 advantage on second chance points. LOUISVILLE had an offensive efficiency of 0.938 ppp on its 32 first chance possessions and 1.000 ppp for its 6 second chance possession. UK had 0.590 ppp on its 32 first chance possessions and 1.286 ppp on its 7 second chance possessions. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed a respectable 35.0% of its misses as offensive rebounds while LOUISVILLE was able to convert 33.3% of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.

UK hit poorly from the free throw line in this half, making 5 of 10 attempts (50.0%). LOUISVILLE finished 4-6 [66.7%] for the half. Field goal shooting for UK was 10-27 overall [37.0%] and 3.9 from long range [33.3%]. For LOUISVILLE, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was a strong 13-28[46.4%] and from long range, LOUISVILLE hit 2-3 [66.7%].

The Cats committed 7 turnovers, one for every 4.6 possessions. The Cats forced 4 LOUISVILLE turnovers, one for every 8.0 possessions.

Second Half:

The Cats opened the second half as they did the game, but Harrow's floater did not fall this time, and Lousville gets to the line following another offensive rebound and Archie Goodwin's third foul after only 36 seconds. On the second possession, Coach Calipari is tagged with a technical foul, and after all the free throws are done, the Cats find themselves down by 11 points, 39-28 after 1 minute of play. The onslaught continues as Kentucky commits 4 turnovers in a row. On the next possession, a lazy pass by Harrow was batted out of bounds instead of being a 5 th consecutive turnover. Willie Cauley-Stein ends the run with a slam. However, by the time the first segment of the second half ends, the Cards have moved on top by 14 points, 48-34, and will have a free throw to complete a 3-point play after the under 16 media timeout.

The Cards convert their free throw, and following another Wildcat turnover move on top by 17 points, 51-34. Kyle Wiltjer ended the Card run with back to back 3 pointers, prompting Coach Pitino to call a Louisville timeout with an 11 point lead, 51-40 with 13:53 to play in the game. Out of the timeout, a Louisville turnover led to another Kentucky basket to trim the lead back into single digits for the first time since the opening seconds of the second half. Then after missing a pair of free throw attempts, Harrow steals the ball and gets a basket to trim the lead to 7 points, 51-44. Louisville stopped the 10 point Kentucky run with a layup to ease back on top by 9 points, 53-44, at the under 12 media timeout. Louisville has possession after the timeout.

Out of the timeout, a Louisville missed is followed by a Archie Goodwin drive, out of control, that yielded a Louisville runout basket to move the Cards back on top by 10 points. However, Siva commits a pair of careless fouls, his 3 rd and 4 th with about 10 minutes to play. With 9:17 to play, Louisville other starting guard, Smith, commits his 4 th foul. Before the third segment closes, the Cats manage to trim the one time 17 point Louisville lead to 6 points, 61-55 at the under 8 media timeout with Louisville in possession.

After the timeout, Archie Goodwin scores on back to back drives, and unlike any other of his drives today, and many of his drives all season, he was under complete control both time, and finished both times, drawing the Cats to within 4 points, 53-59. After the timeout, Louisville fails to score, and Harrow trims the lead to 2 points, 63-61. Louisville stems the Kentucky momentum with a 6-3 mini-run to close out the 4 th segment with a 5 point lead, 69-64 with 3:24 to play, and in possession.

The teams fight the good fight over the final 3:24, and the Cards earn a win by 3 points, 80-77 over a group of Cats that grew up a lot today.


UK scored its 77 points in 72 possessions [1.07 ppp] for the game, and LOUISVILLE scored its 80 points on 71 possessions [1.13 ppp].

Kentucky won the boards, with a rebounding edge 39-36, and Kentucky won the offensive glass with a 12-11 offensive rebounding advantage. LOUISVILLE converted its 11 second chance possessions into 13 second chance points while Kentucky converted their 12 second chance possessions to score 16 second chance points. LOUISVILLE had an offensive efficiency of 0.944 ppp on its 71 first chance possessions and 1.182 ppp for its 11 second chance possessions. UK had 0.847 ppp on its 72 first chance possessions and 1.333 ppp on its 12 second chance possessions. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed 32.4% of its misses as offensive rebounds while LOUISVILLE was able to convert 28.9% of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.

UK hit poorly from the free throw line in this game, making 11-23[47.8%]. LOUISVILLE made 17-25 [68.0%] for the game. Field goal shooting for UK was 28-59 overall [48.3%] and 10-21from long range [47.6%]. For LOUISVILLE, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was a weak 27-55[49.1%] and from long range, LOUISVILLE hit 3-7 [42.9%].

The Cats who committed 15 turnovers, one for every 4.8 possessions. The Cats forced 9 LOUISVILLE turnovers, one for every 7.9 possessions.

Prior to the game, the NGE analysis predicted a 15 point UK loss, 76-61 at a pace of 70 possessions for UK and 70 possessions for Louisville. The final score was 80 (76) to 77 (61) at a pace of 72 possessions for the Cats and 71 possessions for LOUISVILLE. The UK offensive efficiency for the game was 1.069 ppp (0.871 ppp) and the UK defensive efficiency was 1.127 ppp (1.068 ppp).

Next Game On Schedule: Wednesday evening against Eastern Michigan at Rupp Arena.

Submitted by Richard Cheeks


Submitted by Richard Cheeks


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