BIG BLUE FANS FOR
2012-13 Season Analytical Writings
Adolph Rupp had said that Kentucky's basketball season does not begin until January when SEC games begin. There was no doubt that throughout his tenure, he treated winning the SEC championship as essential. And it was, because without that achievement, there was no NCAA post season participation in those days. Perhaps, the significance of SEC competition has been diluted as the NCAA expanded the size of the field to include teams that in some cases were unable to win over ½ of their conference games. However, for this old fan, and many like me, the SEC wars over the years work to make the SEC race special each year.
The constant over the decades of SEC play has been Kentucky's propensity toward championships. Kentucky has won the regular season championships 45 times in 79 seasons. Other members of the SEC have risen from time to time to challenge the Cats' seat on the throne. LSU claims 10 championships, Tennessee 9, Alabama 7, Mississippi State 6, and Florida 5. All other teams only can lay claim to 10 Championships between them. The Cats have won over 78% of all SEC games, and the next closest challenger is Alabama at 57%. Any season that has a winner not named Kentucky is the exception to the rule.
This is why the opening of the SEC season has the south chattering. Florida has clearly established itself as the conference front runner for 2013, but the Gators can feel the Wildcats breathing on their necks, even if they pretend to not hear the soft footsteps of the Cat. At the end, I fully expect the game between these teams at Rupp to close out the season will have another SEC Championship as its prize. However, neither team will play for that prize in March if it does not attend to the business of getting there. That requires a one game at a time focus. First up for the Cats will be the Vanderbilt Commodores in Nashville.
Cat Fans worldwide know without any prompting that Vanderbilt is the last SEC team to hand the Cats a SEC loss in last year's SEC Tournament Championship game. The entire Big Blue Nation are primed for this long awaiting opportunity to set that record straight, and these Cats will take care of their business and get out of Nashville with a 1-0 record in the conference, and place the Cats as the pace setters in 2013 for valuable road wins.
Vanderbilt has opened the season with only six wins in twelve starts. The apologists will explain to an observer that Vanderbilt lost nearly all of its scoring from last year's team. Well, Booo Hooo!!!! Excuses are for losers, and this year, Vanderbilt is a loser. Among their six non-conference loses this season, the most inexplicable was a 17 point loss, 50-33, to #251 Marist. So far this season, the Commodores' most impressive win has been by 2 points in OT over #107 Xavier on the road.
Vanderbilt has averaged about 63 possessions per game, producing 59.7 ppg (0.95 ppp) and allowing 59.5 ppg (0.95 ppp) against an early schedule that Pomeroy rates as the 210 th toughest (0..4900). Vanderbilt has turned the ball over on 20.6% of its possessions while forcing turnovers on 21.3% of opponent possessions. On the Boards, Vanderbilt has secured an offensive rebounding rate of 27.8% about 5% below the 33% NCAA average, and a defensive rebounding rate of 68.8%, also about 2% above the NCAA average.
In contrast, the Cats have averaged about 71 possessions per game, producing 79.2 ppg (1.11 ppp) and allowing 60.8 ppg (0.86 ppp) against a schedule strength of 0..5192 (171 st ). The Cats have committed turnovers on 17.8% of its possessions and forced turnovers on 21.3% of opponent possessions. On the Boards, the Cats' rebounding rates have been 34.6% and 69.8% on the offensive and defensive ends.
Based on this distribution, the analysis tips in favor of the Cats by 10 points, 70-60 in a game played at a pace of 67 possessions for the Cats and 67 possessions for Vanderbilt. Pomeroy figures the Game in Kentucky's favor by 13 points, 68-55 at a pace of 65 possessions. From my perspective, if the Cats beat Vanderbilt by 20 points or more, the team will reinforce the sense developing around the country that the Cats are indeed back. However, if the Cats allow the Commodores to stay within 1 or 2 possessions in the final 5 minutes of the game, the subpar road performance will rise to dominate the discussions until the Cats posts some convincing road wins later in the season.
Coach Calipari will use the four freshmen, Nerlens Noel, Archie Goodwin , Alex Poythress, and Willie Cauley-Stein starting with Ryan Harrow. Coach Calipari will use Julius Mays, Kyle Wiltjer , and Jarrod Polson off the bench.
The Cats control the opening tip and turn the ball over when they attempt to go directly to Nerlens Noel on the inside. However, the Cats do manage 4-5 shooting to move on top 9-4 at the under 16 media timeout. In the second segment, Kentucky extended their early lead to 9 points, 15-6 at the under 12 media timeout.
In the third segment of the game, the Cats outscored Vandy 9-6 to extend their lead to 12 points at the under 8 media timeout. The early pace of this game is mid 60s through the first 13 minutes of play. Each team has committed 6 turnovers, and each team has 11 rebounds, but the Cats only have 3 offensive boards, and Vanderbilt has 8.
In the fourth segment, the Cats continued to build on their lead, adding 3 more points, 29-14, at the under 4 media timeout, and Willie Cauley-Stein will be shooting to complete a 3 point play after the timeout. Vanderbilt uses a pair of 3 pointers in the final segment to trim the lead back to 11 points, 35-24 at the half.
UK scored its 35 points on 34 possessions for the half, and VANDERBILT scored its 24 points on 34 possessions. Vanderbilt used their dominance on the offensive glass to win the battle of the boards in the first half 21-16. Vanderbilt won the offensive glass 12-3, and that advantage translated into a 6-2 advantage for Vandy in second chance points. VANDERBILT had an offensive efficiency of 0.529 ppp on its 34 first chance possessions and 0.500 ppp for its 12 second chance possession. UK had 0.971 ppp on its 34 first chance possessions and 0.667 ppp on its 3 second chance possessions. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed a low 25.0% of its misses as offensive rebounds while VANDERBILT was able to convert 40.0% of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.
UK hit poorly from the free throw line in this half, making 4 of 7 attempts (57.1%). VANDERBILT finished 2-2 [100.0%] for the half. Field goal shooting for UK was 15-26 overall [57.7%] but only 1-8 from long range [12.5%]. For VANDERBILT, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was a weak 8-23 [34.8%] and from long range, VANDERBILT hit 2-13 [15.4%].
The Cats committed 8 turnovers, one for every 4.3 possessions. The Cats forced 9 VANDERBILT turnovers, one for every 3.8 possessions.
The Cats open the second half just as they opened the game, with a turnover on the first possession of the half. However, Kentucky outscored Vandy 8-5 in the segment to move on top by 14 points, 43-29, at the under 16 media timeout. However, neither team could score in the second segment, and the margin remained at 14 points, 47-33 at the under 12 media timeout.
After the timeout, Vandy used back to back 3 pointers around a Kentucky miss to cut the lead to 8 points, 47-39, forcing Coach Calipari to call a timeout with 10:58 to play in the game. The timeout did not help, and Vanderbilt continued its run with the next 4 points to cut the lead to 4 points with 8:03 to play, and another basket trims the lead to 2 points, 47-45 at the under 8 media timeout with 7:30 to play in the game.
Out of the timeout, the Cats miss again, and a basket brings Vanderbilt even at 47-47. Another Kentucky miss, followed by a Vandy basket gives Vanderbilt its first lead of the game, 49-47. Nerlens Noel is fouled on the next trip, and he misses the first of two, but the second one ends a long Kentucky scoring drought. After a Vandy turnover, Harrow drains a 3 pointer to put the Cats up by a pair, and 1 of 2 from the line by Goodwin lifts the Cats up by 3 points, but a 3 pointer by Vandy tied the game, 52-52, at the under 4 media timeout. Alex Poythress will be at the line for the bonus after the timeout.
Alex Poythress made both free throws, but Vandy drove directly the rim to tie the game again. The teams trade scoreless possessions until Kyle Wiltjer gets a 12 foot jump shot to fall to lift the Cats to a 2 point lead, 56-54. After a Vandy miss, Nerlens Noel scores to put the Cats up by 4 points with just over a minute to play. Alex Poythress fouls out with 53 seconds to play, but can only make one of the two to trim the lead to 3 points. The Cats run clock until 25 seconds to play and 8 on the shot clock when Coach Calipari calls a timeout. Out of the timeout, the Cats used the entire 8 seconds before Nerlens Noel put in it the basket. The officials allowed the basket even though it was clearly not released before the shot clock ran to 0.
Vandy called a timeout, but the officials did not take down the points. A vandy 3 pointer trimmed the lead to 2 points, 60-58 with 7.6 seconds to play. Vandy called a timeout after the basket, and on the inbounds play, UK could not get the ball in bounds, and had to burn its last timeout of the game. Kentucky turned it over trying to get it in bounds, and Vandy will have the ball under its own basket with 6.7 seconds to play, down 2 points. Vandy missed a 3 point attempt at the buzzer, and the Cats escape Nashville with a 60-58 win.
UK scored its 60 points in 67 possessions [0.90 ppp] for the game, and VANDERBILT scored its 58 points on 67 possessions [0.87 ppp].
Vanderbilt won the boards, with a rebounding edge 42-38, and Vanderbilt won the offensive glass with a 20-9 offensive rebounding advantage. VANDERBILT converted its 20 second chance possessions into 14 second chance points while Kentucky converted their 9 second chance possessions to score 9 second chance points. VANDERBILT had an offensive efficiency of 0.657 ppp on its 67 first chance possessions and 0.700 ppp for its 20 second chance possessions. UK had 0.761 ppp on its 67 first chance possessions and 1.000 ppp on its 9 second chance possessions. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed 29.0% of its misses as offensive rebounds while VANDERBILT was able to convert 40.8% of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.
UK hit poorly from the free throw line in this game, making 9-15[60.0%]. VANDERBILT made 4-8 [50.0%] for the game. Field goal shooting for UK was 24-53 overall [45.3%] and 3-17 from long range [17.6%]. For VANDERBILT, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was a weak 15-40[37.5%] and from long range, VANDERBILT hit 8-30 [26.7%].
The Cats who committed 16 turnovers, one for every 4.2 possessions. The Cats forced 13 VANDERBILT turnovers, one for every 5.2 possessions.
Prior to the game, the NGE analysis predicted a 10 point UK win, 70-60 at a pace of 67 possessions for UK and 67 possessions for Vanderbilt. The final score was 60 (70) to 58 (60) at a pace of 67 possessions for the Cats and 67 possessions for VANDERBILT. The UK offensive efficiency for the game was 0.896 ppp (1.045 ppp) and the UK defensive efficiency was 0.866 ppp (0.896 ppp).
Next Game On Schedule: January 12, 2013 against Texas A&M at Rupp.
Submitted by Richard Cheeks
Submitted by Richard Cheeks