BIG BLUE FANS FOR
2012-13 Season Analytical Writings
Through the 13 game non-conference portion of the season, the Cats struggled, and displayed a tendency to have wide swings in the level of their game performance. They started on a down note with a sub-par performance against Maryland, and two games later, the Cates turned in one of their most complete games against Lafayette. But, the team took another nose dive to the depths against Morehead, culminating in their worst overall performance of the season thus far at Notre Dame. However, the team these rose from the dead, like a Phoenix to put in one of their best back to back performances of this season at Louisville and against Eastern Michigan.
That rise fueled hope in the Big Blue Nation. Perhaps at last, this assemblage of youthful talent was beginning to understand and implement the type of play that have characterized Coach Calipari's teams of the last several years at Memphis and Kentucky. Furthermore, the consensus view included an acknowledgement that the SEC was especially weak this season, and the Cats would not face serious SEC competition until the last 1/3 of the SEC season when it hosted Missouri, and played Florida away and at home. So, the Cats were on the rise, and would have a sequence of 8 to 10 SEC games against the bottom dwellers during which time, these Cats could fine tune their new found game, and build on the confidence scale by increasing the numbers of the W column.
Sounded like a good plan to this fan, and I have to believe that some of this thinking resided in the Craft Practice facility as the last few days of Camp Calipari eased back into the beginning of the Spring Semester. Afterall, despite the ups and downs, the team's composite numbers through those first 13 games were sufficient to maintain a top 10 rating in the Pomeroy efficiency scales. Then the wheels came off. A dismal performance, albeit a win by 2 points, at Vanderbilt that most concede included a questionable winning basket after the shot clock had expired. Then a 12-point loss to a Texas A&M team at Rupp Arena. Even the 10 point win, also at Rupp against a Tennessee team that only managed 37 points in a game against Georgetown earlier in the season was not enough to slow the Cats' slippage in Pomeroy, now at #17, and more likely to continue the fall rather than climb back to those top 10 levels again this season.
Rather than rising or sustaining the team's lofty Pomeroy rating now that the SEC has begun, this team has slumped back into yet another down cycle. This team seems to have a split personality, and as a fan, I can't imagine which of these personalities will appear for the next game on the schedule, whether it is January 18, December 15, or November 10.
Now, the Cats face a five game stretch that will only include one game before the home folks in Rupp. Games at Auburn, at Alabama, at Mississippi, and at Texas A&M may prove to be the most difficult sequence of game that this team will face. Furthermore, this sequence of games could produce 3 or 4 additional losses, and 3 losses seem more probable than 3 or more wins at this point.
Auburn brings a 8-8 record into this game. However, they also boast a 2-1 start in the SEC with wins over LSU by 5 points and at South Carolina by 3 points. Their loss came at Arkansas by 8, but the Razorbacks needed two overtime periods to put these Tigers away. Auburn also claims a 6 point win over #71 Florida State. Auburn also has its basketball warts, with a 7 point home loss to #267 Winthrop.
Auburn has averaged about 70 possessions per game, producing 69.9 ppg (1.00 ppp) and allowing 66.5 ppg (0.95 ppp) against an early schedule that Pomeroy rates as the 307 th toughest (0..3953). Auburn has turned the ball over on 21.1% of its possessions while forcing turnovers on 21.8% of opponent possessions. On the Boards, Auburn has secured an offensive rebounding rate of 34.3% about 1% above the 33% NCAA average, and a defensive rebounding rate of 69.0%, about 2% above the NCAA average.
In contrast, the Cats have averaged about 70 to 71 possessions per game, producing 77.3 ppg (1.09 ppp) and allowing 62.3 ppg (0.89 ppp) against a schedule strength of 0..5278 (139 th ). The Cats have committed turnovers on 18.1% of its possessions and forced turnovers on 20.8% of opponent possessions. On the Boards, the Cats' rebounding rates have been 34.2% and 69.3% on the offensive and defensive ends.
Based on this distribution, the analysis tips in favor of the Cats by 14 points, 76-62 in a game played at a pace of 70 possessions for the Cats and 70 possessions for Auburn. Pomeroy figures the Game in Kentucky's favor by 11 points, 74-63 at a pace of 70 possessions. However, this game will depend on which identity shows up in Auburn on Saturday night. If it is the personality that sustained high hopes over the first half of this season, I would expect a Kentucky win by 23 or more. However, if the timid personality shows up for this one, this game could be a real nail biter for the Big Blue Nation with a margin in the low single digits, regardless of the winner, like the Vanderbilt game.
The pre-game performance measures for Auburn are almost identical to those that Texas A&M carried into last Saturday's game against the Cats and that Tennessee brought to Rupp earlier in the week. The difference is that the Cats had the Rupp advantage in these two games, and must take on Auburn at Auburn's house.
On Thursday, Willie Cauley-Stein underwent a procedure on his knee, and will not be available for tonight's Auburn game. Therefore, Coach Calipari will use the three freshmen, Nerlens Noel, Archie Goodwin , and Alex Poythress starting with Ryan Harrow and Julius Mays. Coach Calipari will use Kyle Wiltjer,, and Jarrod Polson off the bench. Jon Hood has returned to practice, but we do not know how long he can go coming off his bout with mononucleosis. Twany Beckham remains unavailable due to his reinjured back.
Auburn controlled the tip, but failed to score first as Nerlens Noel converted from close range for the game's first score. However, Auburn matched the Kentucky scoring in a frenetic opening segment that had 9 possessions for the Cats and 10 for the Tigers in the first 5 ½ minutes to the under 16 media timeout with a 4-4 tie. Kentucky will have the ball when play resumes. In the second segment, the Cats failed to score on its 6 possessions, and Auburn managed 2 points on 5 possessions to ease into a 2 point lead, 6-4 at the under 12 media timeout. In the third segment, the Cats' offense finally woke up as the Cats added 12 points to their score on 8 possessions while holding Auburn to only 5 points on the same 8 possessions to build a 5 point lead, 16-11 at the under 8 media timeout.
Out of the timeout, the Cats extend their lead to 7 points on a dunk by Alex Poythress but Auburn responded with a 4 point run prompting a UK timeout with 4:57 to play. Out of the timeout, Polson gets an offensive rebound basket to lift the Cats up by 5 points, 20-15 at the under 4 media timeout. Auburn scores on the first possession after the timeout, and Kyle Wiltjer provided the first 3 pointer of the game to lift the Cats to a 6 point lead. The Cats manage to post a brief 8 point lead, but Auburn cut the margin to 5 points, 30-25, at the half.
UK scored its 30 points on 33 possessions for the half, and AUBURN scored its 25 on 35 possessions. Kentucky won the battle of the boards in the first half 24-19. Kentucky and Auburn each grabbed 5 offensive rebounds, and each team converted their 5 second chance possessions into 4 second chance points. AUBURN had an offensive efficiency of 0.600 ppp on its 35 first chance possessions and 0.800 ppp for its 5 second chance possession. UK had 0.788 ppp on its 33 first chance possessions and 0.800 ppp on its 5 second chance possessions. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed a 26.3% of its misses as offensive rebounds while AUBURN was able to convert 20.8% of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.
UK hit poorly from the free throw line in this half, making 5 of 8 attempts (62.5%). AUBURN finished 3-6 [50.0%] for the half. Field goal shooting for UK was 12-28 overall [42.9%]and 1-10 from long range [10.0%]. For AUBURN, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was a strong 11-23 [47.8%] and from long range, AUBURN hit 0-11 [0.0%].
The Cats committed 7 turnovers, one for every 4.7 possessions. The Cats forced 4 AUBURN turnovers, one for every 8.8 possessions.
The Cats start the second half with a 3 pointer by Mays to match the Cats' largest lead of the first half, and after exch trading baskets with Auburn, Harrow puts the Cats up by 10 points, 37-27 prompting a Tiger timeout. Again, the teams trade basket until Kyle Wiltjer hits his second 3 pointer of the game to extend the Cats' lead to 11 points 44-33, at the under 16 media timeout with 14:54 to play. Out of the timeout, Auburn made a pair of free throws, but the Cats responded with back to back baskets prompting an Auburn timeout with 13:55 to play and the Cats up by 13, 48-35.
After Auburn trims the lead back to 11 points, Archie Goodwin makes a 3 point play to give the Cats a 14 point lead. A dunk at the end of a fast break by Nerlens Noel provides the Cats a 16 point lead, 55-39, at the under 12 media timeout. After the timeout, Auburn scored 4 straight points, and Coach Calipari called a timeout with 10:50 to play and the score 55-43. After the timeout, the Cats end the segment on a 10-2 run, capped by a drive down the lane by Polson just prior to the under 8 media timeout with 6:44 to play in the game and the Cats on top by 20 points, 65-45.
In the short 4 th segment, the Cats extended their run to 16-2 at the under 4 media timeout with a 26 point lead, 71-45. The Cats finish the job and post an impressive 22 point road win, 75-53.
UK scored its 75 points in 67 possessions [1.12 ppp] for the game, and AUBURN scored its 53 points on 67 possessions [0.79 ppp].
Kentucky won the boards, with a rebounding edge 43-30, but Auburn won the offensive glass with a 12-11 offensive rebounding advantage. AUBURN converted its 12 second chance possessions into 10 second chance points while Kentucky converted their 11 second chance possessions to score 13 second chance points. AUBURN had an offensive efficiency of 0.642 ppp on its 67 first chance possessions and 0.833 ppp for its 12 second chance possessions. UK had 0.925 ppp on its 67 first chance possessions and 1.182 ppp on its 11 second chance possessions. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed 37.9% of its misses as offensive rebounds while AUBURN was able to convert 27.3% of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.
Kentucky shot poorly from the free throw line in this game, making 10-16 [62.5%]. AUBURN made 7-10 [70.0%] for the game. Field goal shooting for UK was 30-56 overall [53.6%] and 5-15 from long range [33.3%]. For AUBURN, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was a strong 23-51 [45.1%] and from long range, AUBURN hit 0-15[0.0%].
The Cats who committed 15 turnovers, one for every 4.5 possessions. The Cats forced 9 AUBURN turnovers, one for every 7.4 possessions.
Prior to the game, the NGE analysis predicted a 14 point UK win, 75-61 at a pace of 70 possessions for UK and 70 possessions for Auburn. The final score was 75 (75) to 53 (61) at a pace of 67 possessions for the Cats and 67 possessions for AUBURN. The UK offensive efficiency for the game was 1.119 ppp (1.086 ppp) and the UK defensive efficiency was 0.791 ppp (0.886 ppp).
Next Game On Schedule: January 22, 2013 At Alabama.
Submitted by Richard Cheeks
Submitted by Richard Cheeks