BIG BLUE FANS FOR
2012-13 Season Analytical Writings
I have been tracking the performance of UK basketball teams since the early 1990, and I have been writing about the games, before and after the actual games, for about 6 years. Never have I struggled to find a theme for a team, a season, or a series of games within a season. When I finally had time to write about the upcoming Texas A&M game on Friday, I was heavily medicated, and I attributed my mental block to the medication. However, as I sit here on a Sunday afternoon, the block is stronger and the medications of Friday and Saturday no longer provide a viable excuse. Yet, excuses are on my mind.
There has been an uncharacteristic steady flow of excuses swirling around this team and this season. But, excuses are for losers. This team has the size it needs to rebound, and the length it needs to play an intimidating brand of defense. This team has the shooters to take any opponent out of a zone defense. There is a disconnect between what this team can do, and what this team is doing. It is Coach Calipari's responsibility to eliminate that disconnect. I have no doubt that he has been doing everything within his ability to do just that. However, time is running out. On Tuesday, the Cats play Tennessee, an opponent that the Cats should handle routinely under usual circumstances, but this team should have handled Baylor routinely. This team should have put a pitiful Vanderbilt team away in Nashville earlier this week, and this team should not have been challenged by Texas A&M in Rupp Arena yesterday.
However, we all understand that “should have's” are not ever the definition of what “is”. After the Tennessee game, these Cats take to the road for 4 of their next 5 games, traveling to Auburn, Alabama, Mississippi, and a rematch at Texas A&M on February 2. If they do not figure out this puzzle now, by the time this team returns home, it may be too late.
Tennessee will enter Rupp Arena on Tuesday with an 8-6 record, winless in their first 2 SEC games of this season. Tennessee has played an ambitious non-conference schedule that includes #22 Oklahoma State, #40 Memphis, #46 Virginia, and #60 Georgetown. Each of those games handed the Vols a loss. However, Tennessee claims a win over #27 Wichita State. The Vols' SEC schedule started with a home loss to #20 Mississippi by 18 points, and a road loss to #83 Alabama by 3 points.
Tennessee has averaged about 65 possessions per game, producing 65.2 ppg (1.00 ppp) and allowing 61.8 ppg (0.96 ppp) against an early schedule that Pomeroy rates as the 61 st toughest (0..5867). Tennessee has turned the ball over on 19.1% of its possessions while forcing turnovers on 17.1% of opponent possessions. On the Boards, Tennessee has secured an offensive rebounding rate of 34.3% about 1% above the 33% NCAA average, and a defensive rebounding rate of 72.0%, about 5% above the NCAA average.
In contrast, the Cats have averaged about 71 possessions per game, producing 77.4 ppg (1.10 ppp) and allowing 61.8 ppg (0.89 ppp) against a schedule strength of 0..5260 (139 th ). The Cats have committed turnovers on 18.1% of its possessions and forced turnovers on 20.9% of opponent possessions. On the Boards, the Cats' rebounding rates have been 34.7% and 68.7% on the offensive and defensive ends.
Based on this distribution, the analysis tips in favor of the Cats by 17 points, 75-58 in a game played at a pace of 68 possessions for the Cats and 68 possessions for Tennessee. Pomeroy figures the Game in Kentucky's favor by 14 points, 74-60 at a pace of 68 possessions. From my perspective, a margin of 26 points or more would be a very strong performance while a margin in single digits would be a weak one.
The pre-game performance measures for Tennessee are almost identical to those that Texas A&M carried into Saturday's game against the Cats.
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. Jon Hood continues his recovery from an illness, andTwany Beckham has reinjured his back. Neither of these players will be available for this game.
The Cats control the tip and proceed to turn the ball over on their first possession just as they did to begin each half Saturday. The Cats did draw first blood on their second possession, and the team traded baskets for the rest of the opening segment that produced a Kentucky 1 point lead, 8-7 at the under 16 media timeout with 14:57 to play. In the second segment, the Cats ease on top by three points, 12-9, but the Vols scored the next 6 points to take a 3 point lead of their own, 15-12, at the under 12 media timeout.
In the third segment, the Cats tied the score at 15 on a 3 pointer by Kyle Wiltjer. Kyle Wiltjer added another three and a layup to be the key offensive weapon in a 10-4 run over the balance of the segment that took the Cats to a 6 point lead at the under 8 media timeout with 6:56 to play in the first half. Tennessee respond to the Kentucky run, and chipped away at the 6 point lead on the strength of two 3 pointers to trim the lead to a single point, 26 – 25. Willie Cauley-Stein scored the Cats' final basket of the segment to move the Cats out to a 3 point lead, 28-25 at the under 4 media timeout with 2:24 to play in the first half. The teams trade baskets over the last 2:24 as the Cats take a 3 point lead to the locker room at the half, 34-31
UK scored its 34 points on 35 possessions for the half, and TENNESSEE scored its 31points on 33 possessions. Tennessee won the battle of the boards in the first half 17-15. Kentucky won the offensive glass5-1, and that advantage translated into a 3-2 advantage for Kentucky in second chance points. TENNESSEE had an offensive efficiency of 0.879 ppp on its 33 first chance possessions and 2.000 ppp for its 1 second chance possession. UK had 0.886 ppp on its 35 first chance possessions and 0.600 ppp on its 5 second chance possessions. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed a 23.8% of its misses as offensive rebounds while TENNESSEE was able to convert 9.1% of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.
UK hit poorly from the free throw line in this half, making 7 of 11 attempts (63.6%). TENNESSEE finished 0-0[0.0%] for the half. Field goal shooting for UK was 12-31 overall [38.7%]and 3-10 from long range [30.0%]. For TENNESSEE, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was a strong 11-19 [57.9%] and from long range, TENNESSEE hit 3-6 [50.0%].
The Cats committed 6 turnovers, one for every 4.0 possessions. The Cats forced 9 TENNESSEE turnovers, one for every 3.7 possessions.
For the 4 th half in a row, the Cats commit a turnover on the first possession. The teams traded baskets over the opening segment as the Cats maintained their 3 point half time lead at the under 16 media timeout. In the second segment, the Cats use 3-2 shooting from the field, and 3-3 from the line to move on top by 8 points, 47-39, but Tennessee scored the last four points of the segment to trim the lead back to 4 points, 47-43 at the under 12 media timeout.
After the timeout, the Cats turn the ball over, and Tennessee makes back to back baskets to extend their run to 8-0 and tie the score at 47-47 with 10:44 to play. Coach Calipari takes a timeout. The Cats stop the Tennessee run, and pull back on top by 4 points, 53-49, and the Vols cut the lead back to 2 points, 53-51 at the under 8 media timeout. In the 4 th segment, the Cats benefitted from two 3 pointers by Mays, and an offensive rebound basket off a missed free throw to ease on top of Tennessee by 6 points, 64-58 at the under media timeout. Tennessee will be on the free throw line after the timeout.
In the final segment, Kyle Wiltjer scored on back to back possessions, and then works his way to the free throw line on the third possession to fuel the Kentucky offense with 5 straight points that produced a 7 point lead, 69-62 with 1:35 to play in the game. Tennessee answers with 1 for 2 from the line, and a basket by Nerlens Noel extended the lead to 8 points, 71-63. Tennessee scores again and takes their last timeout of the game, down 6, 71-65 with 50 seconds to play in the game, and the Cats in possession. After the timeout, Mays got caught in a trap, and when he tried to break the trap, the officials called Mays for a flagrant 1 foul, giving Tennessee 2 shots and the ball with 43 seconds to play. Richardson missed both free throws, and the Cats finish the job with a 10 point win, 75-65.
UK scored its 75 points in 70 possessions [1.07 ppp] for the game, and TENNESSEE scored its 65 points on 68 possessions [0.96 ppp].
Kentucky won the boards, with a rebounding edge 36-30, and Kentucky won the offensive glass with a 8-7 offensive rebounding advantage. TENNESSEE converted its 7 second chance possessions into 5 second chance points while Kentucky converted their 8 second chance possessions to score 9 second chance points. TENNESSEE had an offensive efficiency of 0.882 ppp on its 68 first chance possessions and 0.714 ppp for its 7 second chance possessions. UK had 0.943 ppp on its 70 first chance possessions and 1.125 ppp on its 8 second chance possessions. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed 25.8% of its misses as offensive rebounds while TENNESSEE was able to convert 20.0% of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.
Poorly from the free throw line in this game, making 19-31 [61.3%]. TENNESSEE made 11-17 [64.7%] for the game. Field goal shooting for UK was 25-51 overall [49.0%] and 6-15 from long range [40.0%]. For TENNESSEE, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was a strong 21-42 [50.0%] and from long range, TENNESSEE hit 4-12 [33.3%].
The Cats who committed 13 turnovers, one for every 5.4 possessions. The Cats forced 13 TENNESSEE turnovers, one for every 5.2 possessions.
Prior to the game, the NGE analysis predicted a 17 point UK win, 75-58 at a pace of 68 possessions for UK and 68 possessions for Tennessee. The final score was 75 (75) to 65 (58) at a pace of 70 possessions for the Cats and 68 possessions for TENNESSEE. The UK offensive efficiency for the game was 1.071 ppp (1.103 ppp) and the UK defensive efficiency was 0.956 ppp (0.853 ppp).
Next Game On Schedule: January 19, 2013 At Auburn.
Submitted by Richard Cheeks
Submitted by Richard Cheeks