2012-13 Season Analytical Writings

Cats Return To Rupp For Three Game Homestand

When a teammate falls, his brothers rally around him, each doing a little more, to show support of their fallen brother in the interest of the team. The emotional boost that sustains that greater effort cannot be sustained for the long term. However, as the extra energy provided by the initial response to the lost teammate subsides, the coaches and the remaining players adjust their game tactics to account for the reduced resources. Usually, the team's overall performance parameters (efficiency) are not substantially changed by the absence of the fallen comrade. This process plays out every season, and in nearly all instances, the ability of the team to be more than anyone ever imagined possible screams to the world the significance of the team. These events also teach the team itself that working together, they can be more than the sum of their individual parts, e.g. synergism.

That is clearly not going to the case with this UK group. Saturday, in Knoxville, this group was like a rudderless ship in a storm. If the wind blew from the west, the group scattered as it moved to the east. If the winds swirls, the group gets spinning sickness and can't maintain balance. If Tennessee pushed to the baseline, the UK players moved into the cheerleaders. And so it went for the entire game, and make no mistake, the Tennessee Volunteers, their coaches, and their fans reveled in their ability to have their own way for the entire game against the mighty Wildcats. Moreover, they did just that, without any mercy, for 40 full minutes. Paybacks are HECK!

This event, not really a game in the classic sense, exposed the flaws of this group of players. They have tried to go through the motions of being a team, but they have never really grasped the meaning of the word. A collection of individuals for whom the sum of the parts cannot ever be multiplied by the synergism of a team. So, let it be written about Kentucky basketball during the 2012-13 season. This trait was exposed in game 1, and despite Coach Calipari's personal commitment to teaching them how to be a team, this group simply never understood the importance, the essential nature, of the message.

This group has 6 games remaining, 4 at Rupp and 2 on the road. The “numbers” for this season, based on the pre-Nerlens Noel injury, are so substantial, that they cannot possibly account for the complete dissolution of this group upon his injury, and these analyses in all likelihood will overstate the group's Noel-less ability, just as it did on Saturday for the Tennessee game. Nevertheless, I will remain true to my methods (and my madness) for these conclusion of this season.

Vanderbilt enters this game with a 10-14 record, 4-8 in the SEC. These teams opened the SEC season in Nashville on January 10, and the Cats were fortunate to escape with a 2 point win despite this being one of the weakest Vanderbilt teams in memory. Since that game, Vanderbilt has 4 wins and has lost 7. Three of their 4 wins came at home, and the Commodores did manage a rare road win at South Carolina by 7. The Commodores have lost on the road to Arkansas by 23, to Missouri by 22, to Tennessee by only 1, and to LSU by only 1. The Vanderbilt trend line of road performance would have to be regarded as rising. The Commodores come into Rupp following a sequence of games that saw them at home for 4 of the last 5 games. Vanderbilt's schedule has been more than respectable, 64 th most difficult in D1 basketball (0.6224 per Pomeroy).

At 4-8 with 6 games remaining, the Commodores appear to have little to play for beyond their pride, and while the stakes for this Kentucky group remain very high (NCAA at large bid hanging in the balance), one must wonder if the Commodores won't enter Rupp Wednesday night thinking they have more to play for than these Cats. If that is true, they the Cats may as well mail it in for the remaining 6 games.

VANDERBILT has averaged about 63 possessions per game, producing 59.1 ppg (0.94 ppp) and allowing 60.3 ppg (0.96 ppp). VANDERBILT has turned the ball over on 21.3% of its possessions while forcing turnovers on 19.8% of opponent possessions. On the Boards, VANDERBILT has secured an offensive rebounding rate of 27.9% about 5% below the 33% NCAA average, and a defensive rebounding rate of 69.5%, about 3% above the NCAA average.

In contrast, the Cats have averaged about 69 possessions per game, producing 74.4 ppg (1.07 ppp) and allowing 63.8 ppg (0.93 ppp) against a schedule strength of 0…6346 (59 th ). The Cats have committed turnovers on 19.4% of its possessions and forced turnovers on 18.4% of opponent possessions. On the Boards, the Cats' rebounding rates have been 34.7% and 68.6% on the offensive and defensive ends.

Based on this distribution, the analysis tips in favor of Kentucky by 17 points, 73-56 in a game played at a pace of 66 possessions for the Cats and 66 possessions for VANDERBILT. Pomeroy figures the Game in Kentucky's favor by 13 points, 68-55 at a pace of 63 possessions. The likely margin range for this matchup is Kentucky by 8 to Kentucky by 26 points.

Game Summary:

The loss of Nerlens Noel has left this team with a huge void, and it seemed in Knoxville that Coach Calipari was not able to find any combination that could stop the hemmoraging. Today, Coach Calipari will start three freshmen Willie Cauley-Stein, Alex Poythress, and Archie Goodwin with Sophomore Ryan Harrow and Senior Julius Mays.. That will leave Kyle Wiltjer, Jarrod Polson and Jon Hood coming off the bench.

The Cats control the opening tip, but Vanderbilt draws first blood with a three pointer. After the Cats score back to back baskets to ease into a lead, Vandy responds with 3 points of their own to regain the lead, 6-4. The Cats then run 6 straight points, 4 by Goodwin and 2 by Harrow to lead by 4 points, but Vandy answered with their second 3 pointer of the game to trim the lead to 1 point at the under 16 media timeout. In the opening segment, the Cats made 5 of 9 shots, and committed a rare 0 turnovers. Vandy was 3-5 with 2 turnovers.

In the second segment, the Cats defense threw a shutout, forcing 3 more Vanderbilt turnovers, and allowing the Cats to double up on the score, 18-9, to lead by 9 at the under 12 media timeout. After the timeout, Alex Poythress will be shooting a pair of free throws. Alex Poythress missed both free throws but the Cats continue their run with a 3 pointer by Polson and a run out dunk by Willie Cauley-Stein to stretch the lead to 14 points, forcing Vanderbilt to take a timeout with 10:29 to play in the first half. Coach Stallings' timeout was effective for his team, as they immediately stopped the Kentucky run, and closed the gap to 9 points, 25-16 at the under 8 media timeout, and the Commodores will be shooting a pair of free throws after the timeout. Through the first 12 minutes, the Cats have scored their 25 points on only 19 possessions, while Vandy has its 16 points on 18 possessions.

In the fourth segment, the teams play on relatively even terms, but Vanderbilt uses 3-4 shooting from long range to trim 2 points off the lead, now at 7 points, 37-30 at the under 4 media timeout with 3:44 to play. In the final segment, the Cats use a 5 point play, a basket and foul by Harrow, and when Harrow missed his free throw, he went into the lane and got his own miss, and kicked it out to Kyle Wiltjer who drained a second chance 3 to lift the Cats to a 12 point lead, 42-30. However, Vandy closed the half with back to back layups to trim the lead to 8 points, 42-34 at the half.

UK scored its 42 points on 31 possessions for the half, and VANDERBILT scored its 34 points on 31 possessions. Kentucky won the battle of the boards in the first half 16-15, and Vanderbilt won on the offensive boards, 6-5. Vanderbilt converted its 6 second chance possessions into 2 second chance points, and Kentucky used its 5 second chances for 9 points. VANDERBILT had an offensive efficiency of 1.022 ppp on its 31 first chance possessions and 0.333 ppp for its 6 second chance possession. UK had 1.065 ppp on its 31 first chance possessions and 1.800 ppp on its 5 second chance possessions. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed a decent 35.7% of its misses as offensive rebounds while VANDERBILT was able to convert 35.3% of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.

UK hit poorly from the free throw line in this half, making 2 of 5 attempts (40.0%). VANDERBILT finished 8-14 [57.1%] from the free throw line. The Cats hit 19 of 31 (61.3%) shots in the first half including 2-6 (33.3%) from long range. For VANDERBILT, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was a weak 4-14 [28.6%] and from long range, VANDERBILT hit 6-10 [60.0%].

The Cats committed 3 turnovers, one for every 10.3 possessions. The Cats forced 6 VANDERBILT turnovers, one for every 5.2 possessions.

Second Half:

The Cats open the second half with a second chance basket by Willie Cauley-Stein to put the lead back at 10 points. Following missed shots at each end, the Cats press Vandy, and nearly get a 10 second back court turnover, but Vandy was awarded a timeout just ahead of the 10 second whistle. Vandy managed to score only 3 points in the opening segment in only 4 possessions, but the Cats added 7 points in 5 possessions, on the strength of a 3 pointer by Mays, his first points of the game to lift the Cats to a 12 point lead, 49-37, at the under 16 media timeout. The teams play the second segment on even terms, each team scoring 8 points to a 57-45 Kentucky lead at the under 12 media timeout with 11:09 to play.

In the third segment, Vanderbilt trimmed a pair of points from the Kentucky lead, down to 10 points, 58-48, at the under 8 media timeout with 7:04 to play. In the fourth segment, Vandy make a 5-0 run to trim the lead to 5 points, 58-53, with 5:11 to play in the game. Kentucky has only scored 1 point in the last 6 minutes. Vandy continues its resurgence, trimming the lead to 2 points, 61-59, at the under 4 media timeout with 3:53 to play in the game. With 11 minutes to play, the Cats held a 13 point lead, 58-45, but have been outscored 14-3 since that point.

In the final segment, the Cats work to stretch their lead to 6 points, 68-62, but a 3 pointer cut the lead in half with 1:09 to play, and Vanderbilt burns their next to last timeout. Each team has one timeout remaining. On their next possession, the Cats work the ball to Goodwin at the basket, but Vanderbilt fouls him with 59 seconds to play. The Cats work the lead to 7 points from the line, but Vandy trims it back to 4 points, 74-70 on another 3 pointer with 3.4 seconds to play, as Vandy uses their last timeout of the game. Kentucky can't get it inbounds, and Vandy gets the ball back with 1.1 seconds to play. The final score, 74-70.


UK scored its 74 points in 62 possessions [1.19 ppp] for the game, and VANDERBILT scored its 70 points on 61 possessions [1.15 ppp].

Kentucky won the boards, with a rebounding edge 36-30, and Kentucky won the battle of the offensive glass 11-9. VANDERBILT converted its 9 second chance possessions into 7 second chance points while Kentucky converted their 11 second chance possessions to score 13 second chance points. VANDERBILT had an offensive efficiency of 1.033 ppp on its 61 first chance possessions and 0.778 ppp for its 9 second chance possessions. UK had 0.984 ppp on its 62 first chance possessions and 1.182 ppp on its 11 second chance possessions. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed 34.4% of its misses as offensive rebounds while VANDERBILT was able to convert 26.5% of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.

Kentucky shot poorly from the free throw line in this game, making 12-21 [57.1%]. VANDERBILT made 14-22 [63.6%] for the game. Field goal shooting for UK was 29-56 overall [51.8%] and 4-12 from long range [33.3%]. For VANDERBILT, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was a strong 13-30 [43.3%] and from long range, VANDERBILT hit 10-22 [100.0%].

The Cats who committed 7 turnovers, one for every 8.9 possessions. The Cats forced 7 VANDERBILT turnovers, one for every 8.7 possessions.

Prior to the game, the NGE analysis predicted a 17 point Kentucky win, 73-56 at a pace of 66 possessions for UK and 66 possessions for VANDERBILT. The final score was 74 (73) to 70 (56) at a pace of 62 possessions for the Cats and 61 possessions for VANDERBILT. The UK offensive efficiency for the game was 1.194 ppp (1.106 ppp) and the UK defensive efficiency was 1.148 ppp (0.970 ppp).

Next Game On Schedule: Saturday, February 23, 2013 when the Cats return to Rupp for College Game Day when the Cats will play the Missouri tigers;

Submitted by Richard Cheeks


Submitted by Richard Cheeks


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