BIG BLUE FANS FOR
2012-13 Season Analytical Writings
The Cats are 1 game into the most difficult 5 game sequence of this season in which the Cats must play 4 of the 5 games on the road. The first stop on that road swing was Auburn, and the Cats took care of business in one of their most complete efforts of the season. The next stop will still be in the state of Alabama, in Tuscaloosa and the level of competition for this second stop will be a step up from the Auburn Tigers.
When Anthony Grant arrived in Tuscaloosa 4 years ago, many regarded him as one of the bright rising stars in college basketball. In his first three seasons, his teams won 63 games while losing 39. In 2011 and 2012, his Crimson Tide teams played a defensive brand of basketball with the best, having the 7 th best defense in 2011 and the 8 th best in 2012. However, the Crimson Tide offenses under Grant have not cracked to 80 territory in a single season, which is why the Crimson Tide sustained double digit losses in all three seasons, and are on pace to do so again in 2013.
Nevertheless, stop 2 of this 5 game swing will be a tougher test for the Wildcats than stop 1 at Auburn.
Alabama brings a 11-6 record into this game, and the Crimson Tide have won three of their first four SEC games to match the Cats in the current SEC standings. After opening the season with 6 straight wins, the Tide could only claim 2 wins over the next 8 games, and ended that losing streak with a 18 point loss at Missouri in their SEC opener. Since that loss, Alabama has won three SEC games in a row, beating #93 Tennessee by 3 and #83 Texas A&M by 1, and drubbing #227 Mississippi State by 32 points in Starkville. Alabama's best win of this season was their last win, the 1 point victory over #83 Texas A&M. The Crimson Tide's more inexplicable loss was by 7 points at home to #163 Mercer.
Alabama has averaged about 63 to 64 possessions per game, producing 64.6 ppg (1.02 ppp) and allowing 59.8 ppg (0.94 ppp) against a schedule that Pomeroy rates as the 65 th toughest (0.5837). Alabama has turned the ball over on 20.6% of its possessions while forcing turnovers on 22.9% of opponent possessions. On the Boards, Alabama has secured an offensive rebounding rate of 32.7% slightly below the 33% NCAA average, and a defensive rebounding rate of 66.3%, also slightly below the NCAA average.
In contrast, the Cats have averaged about 70 possessions per game, producing 77.1 ppg (1.09 ppp) and allowing 61.7 ppg (0.88 ppp) against a schedule strength of 0..5301 (121 st ). The Cats have committed turnovers on 18.4% of its possessions and forced turnovers on 20.4% of opponent possessions. On the Boards, the Cats' rebounding rates have been 34.4% and 69.5% on the offensive and defensive ends.
Based on this distribution, the analysis tips in favor of the Crimson Tide by 1 point, 65-66 in a game played at a pace of 66 possessions for the Cats and 66 possessions for Alabama. Pomeroy figures the Game in Kentucky's favor by 4 points, 66-62 at a pace of 66 possessions. As discussed previously, this game will depend on which identity shows up in Alabama on Tuesday night. If it is the personality that sustained high hopes over the first half of this season, I would expect a Kentucky win by 10or more. However, if the timid personality shows up for this one, the Cats will not be able to get out of the State of Alabama without their second SEC loss and 6 th overall loss of this season by double digits.
On Thursday, Willie Cauley-Stein underwent a procedure on his knee, and will not be available for tonight's Alabama 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.
Alabama controlled the opening tip, and drew first blood in the game, but the Cats matched the Tide point for point until the Cats got a Nerlens Noel dunk following a ‘Bama miss to ease on top for the first time at 8-6 at the under 16 media timeout. In the second segment, the Cats found a lid on their basket but Alabama could not take advantage of that and only managed 4 points to ease back on top by 2 points, but the Cats finished the segment with back to back baskets and three consecutive defensive stops to move back on top by 2 points, 12-10, at the under 12 media timeout with 10:31 to play in the first half.
Out of the timeout, Alex Poythress committed his second foul and moved to the bench, probably for the last 10 minutes of this half. The teams trade baskets during the segment, but the Cats managed 3 to ‘Bama's 2 to extend their first half lead to a game high 4 points, 18-14 at the under 8 media timeout with 7:24 to play in the half. In the first 12 minutes, the Cats are shooting 44% to the Tide's 28%, and the Cats are controlling the boards, but 6 Kentucky turnovers have allowed Alabama to hang close.
In the fourth segment, the Cats use some good defense to outscore Alabama 7-2 to establish a 9 point lead, 25-16, forcing Anthony Grant to call a timeout with 5:20 to play. Out of the timeout, each team added 8 points to the scoreboard to a 33-24 Kentucky lead at the under 4 media timeout with 1:44 to play in the first half, and the Cats in possession. Neither team scores over the final 1:44, and the Cats take a 9 point lead, 33-24, to the locker room.
UK scored its 33 points on 31 possessions for the half, and ALABAMA scored its 24 on 32 possessions. Kentucky won the battle of the boards in the first half 22-11. Kentucky won the offensive rebounds 6-2, but each team used their second chance possessions to score only 2 points. ALABAMA had an offensive efficiency of 0.688 ppp on its 32 first chance possessions and1.000 ppp for its 2 second chance possession. UK had 1.000 ppp on its 31 first chance possessions and 0.333 ppp on its 6 second chance possessions. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed a strong 40.0% of its misses as offensive rebounds while ALABAMA was able to convert 11.1% of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.
UK hit well from the free throw line in this half, making 2 of 2 attempts (100.0%). ALABAMA finished 3-4 [75.0%] for the half. Field goal shooting for UK was 14-29 overall [48.3%]and 3-6 from long range [50.0%]. For ALABAMA, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was a strong 9-22 [40.9%] and from long range, ALABAMA hit 1-6 [16.7%].
The Cats committed 7 turnovers, one for every 4.4 possessions. The Cats forced 4 ALABAMA turnovers, one for every 8.0 possessions.
The Tide open play in the second half making 4 of their 8 shots, including a 3 pointer, while the Cats fail to make a basket, and only 1 of 2 from the line. The 9-1 run to open the half erases Kentucky's halftime lead, forcing Coach Calipari to call a timeout with 15:39 to play and the Cats up by a single point, 34-33. Out of the timeout, the Cats struggle to get a shot, and the possession ends with the Cats' 9 th turnover of the game at the under 16 media timeout and Alabama in possession with a chance regain the lead. The Cats have not scored a field goal for about 8 minutes, spanning back to about 3 minutes left in the first half.
Out of the timeout, Alabama fails to score, and Alex Poythress commits his third foul trying to rebound a Kentucky miss at the other end. Alabama finally breaks through on a pair of free throws to move on top by a point. The Cats tie the score when Goodwin makes 1 of 2 free throws, and move up by a point when Goodwin again makes 1 of 2 free throws. Harrow then gets a run out basket off a Nerlens Noel blocked shot to give the Cats a 3 point lead, 38-35 at the under 12 media timeout. The Harrow basket was Kentucky's first in 11 ½ minutes. In the third segment, Alabama manages to extend its lead to a game high 4 points, 43-39, but a 3 pointer by Mays trims the lead back to 1 point, and an Alabama dry trip gives UK the ball after the under 8 media timeout with 7:41 to play, and the Cats are down 1 point, 43-42.
In the 4 th segment, points are hard to come by. The Cats make one basket, and Alabama 2, but on the second basket, Lacy was fouled by Alex Poythress, and Alex Poythress fouled out with 4:26 to play, and the Cats down by 4 points after finishing the 3 point play, 48-44. Harrow makes a layup from the left side on a handoff from Goodwin to cut the lead in half, 48-46, at the under 4 media timeout and 3:39 to play in the game. When play resumes, Alabama will be shooting the bonus, and they convert the first, but miss the second. After Kyle Wiltjer cuts the lead back to one point, a defensive stop and a foul sending Kyle Wiltjer to the line for the bonus, but he misses the front end, and Alabama calls timeout after grabbing the rebound with 1:13 to play in the game, and Alabama on top by a point, 51-50.
Out of the timeout, Alabama gets a put back basket to move up by 3 points. Alabama makes the free throws over the last minute and hand Kentucky their 6 th loss of the season, and their second SEC loss of 2013, 59-55
UK scored its 55 points in 62 possessions [0.89 ppp] for the game, and ALABAMA scored its 59 points on 63 possessions [0.94 ppp].
Kentucky won the boards, with a rebounding edge 44-32, and Kentucky won the battle of the offensive glass 13-9. However, Alabama converted its 9 second chance possessions into 11 second chance points while Kentucky converted their 13 second chance possessions to score 10 second chance points. ALABAMA had an offensive efficiency of 0.762 ppp on its 63 first chance possessions and 1.222 ppp for its 9 second chance possessions. UK had 0.726 ppp on its 62 first chance possessions and 0.769 ppp on its 13 second chance possessions. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed 36.1% of its misses as offensive rebounds while ALABAMA was able to convert 22.5% of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.
Kentucky shot poorly from the free throw line in this game, making 6-11 [55.6%]. ALABAMA made 15-21 [71.4%] for the game. Field goal shooting for UK was 22-56 overall [39.3%] and 5-9 from long range [55.5%]. For ALABAMA, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was a strong 19-44 [43.2%] and from long range, ALABAMA hit 2-13 [15.4%].
The Cats who committed 13 turnovers, one for every 4.8 possessions. The Cats forced 6 ALABAMA turnovers, one for every 10.5possessions.
Prior to the game, the NGE analysis predicted a 1 point Alabama win, 65-66 at a pace of 66 possessions for UK and 66 possessions for Alabama. The final score was 55 (65) to 59 (66) at a pace of 62 possessions for the Cats and 63 possessions for ALABAMA. The UK offensive efficiency for the game was 0.887 ppp (0.985 ppp) and the UK defensive efficiency was 0.937 ppp (0.985 ppp).
Next Game On Schedule: January 29, 2013 when LSU visits Rupp Arena.
Submitted by Richard Cheeks
Submitted by Richard Cheeks