2012-13 Season Analytical Writings

Cats Host College Game Day For Must Win Game

The Cats managed to get past Vanderbilt on Wednesday night in the first of three must win home games. In game two, the Cats will take on the #23 Missouri Tigers in a game that ESPN selected at the beginning of the season for their weekly College Game Day festivities. I doubt that ESPN selected this date/game for this attention because it expected the Cats to be fighting for their proverbial post season lives, but that is the situation that this season has produced.

Yes, the Cats did manage to get the W against the Commodores, but the final margin was only 4 points, and the Cats were unable to maintain, much less expand upon a 14 point first half lead. That has been the script of this team for much of this basketball season, even before the loss of Nerlens Noel. However, the game that the Cats played against Vanderbilt was an improvement over the way the team played last Saturday in Knoxville when it could have never managed to move into any substantial lead beyond the 1 to 2 point leads that are common to most games in the first 4 to 6 minutes before a dominant teams establishes a working margin.

Are the Cats learning how to play without Nerlens Noel? Is the apparent improvement from the Tennessee game to the Vanderbilt game real or illusory? The Big Blue Nation will focus on tonight these questions. However, make no mistake, the rest of the nation will tune in with visions of a likely Kentucky Humiliation dancing in their collective heads.

I understand that the conventional wisdom is that the team's loss of Nerlens Noel has produced the dramatic decline in team performance as compared to expected results. However, a review of this team's game to game deviations from predicted margin do not indicate anything unusual for this team over the last two games. For example, games 14-17 had the following game-by-game deviations from predicted margin: -8, -31,-7, and +15. The game-by-game variations for games 24 through 26 have been +2, -32, and -13. In my opinion, this team is more likely to outperform the predicted margin as to underperform the predicted margin, given the pattern that has occurred this season through 26 games.

Missouri enters this game with a 19-7 record, 8-5 in the SEC. However, the Tigers claim a 3 point win over #1 Florida in their last game, this past Tuesday following a 31 point humiliation to the Gators in Gainesville in mid-January. Six of Missouri's seven losses have occurred on the road, and the seventh loss was at a neutral location. The Tigers are 1-6 on the road, with their only road win coming at the SEC's bottom team, Mississippi State. The Missouri road performance has been dismal this season. Missouri's schedule has been more than respectable, 70 th most difficult in D1 basketball (0.6225 per Pomeroy).

At 8-5 with five games remaining, the Tigers are in the hunt for one of the 3 remaining SEC Tournament byes. The other contenders are Alabama (10-3), Kentucky (9-4), Mississippi (8-5), and Arkansas (8-5). A win tonight over the Cats would enhance the Tigers' chances for one of those byes while make it imperative that the Cats not lose again to secure one of those spots. Therefore, the stakes are high for both team with respect to the SEC race. For the Cats, the stakes are even higher. Missouri has a victory of #1 Florida on its NCAA resume, but the Cats' NCAA resume remains empty of quality wins. A win tonight over #23 Missouri will given the Cats that resume filler that the team now lacks.

MISSOURI has averaged about 70 possessions per game, producing 76.0 ppg (1.09 ppp) and allowing 65.7 ppg (0.94 ppp). MISSOURI has turned the ball over on 19.2% of its possessions while forcing turnovers on 17.7% of opponent possessions. On the Boards, MISSOURI has secured an offensive rebounding rate of 39.7% about 6 to 7% above the 33% NCAA average, and a defensive rebounding rate of 72.8%, about 5% above the NCAA average.

In contrast, the Cats have averaged about 69 possessions per game, producing 74.3 ppg (1.08 ppp) and allowing 64.0ppg (0.93 ppp) against a schedule strength of 0.6277 (67 th ). The Cats have committed turnovers on 19.1% of its possessions and forced turnovers on 18.2% of opponent possessions. On the Boards, the Cats' rebounding rates have been 34.7% and 68.8% on the offensive and defensive ends.

Based on this distribution, the analysis tips in favor of Kentucky by 6 points, 73-67 in a game played at a pace of 69 possessions for the Cats and 69 possessions for MISSOURI. Pomeroy figures the Game in Kentucky's favor by 2 points, 75-73 at a pace of 70 possessions. The likely margin range for this matchup is Missouri by 3 to Kentucky by 15 points.

Game Summary:

As he did on Wednesday night,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, and draw first blood on a bank shot by Harrow. However, Missouri uses 4-8 shooting in the opening 5 minutes to move out to an early 9-4 lead before Alex Poythress cuts it to 3 points in the lane. The segment moved to the under 16 media timeout when Missouri fouled Kyle Wiltjer as he made a move into the lane with 14:42 to play. In the second segment, the Cats only manage 1 basket on four attempts while Missouri makes 3 of 4 to extend their lead to 7 points, 15-8, forcing Coach Calipari to call a timeout with 12:02 to play.

Out of the timeout, Missouri added another 2 points to their early lead at the under 12 media timeout with 11:04 to play. Over the balance of the third segment, the Cats managed to stop the Missouri surge and hold the line at a 7-point deficit, 21-14, at the under 8 media timeout, and Kyle Wiltjer will be on the line for a pair of free throws after the timeout. For the second time in this game, Kyle Wiltjer missed his first free throw attempt and made the second to trim the lead to 6 points, but Missouri scored the next 7 points to establish a 13 point lead before the Cats ended the segment with the last 4 points to trim the lead to 9, 28-19.

In the final segment, Missouri missed their shot, got the offensive rebound, their 9 th of the game, and turned the ball over after the rebound. At the other end, Mays makes the Cats' first 3 pointer of the game to trim the lead back to 6 points. A 3 pointer by Alex Poythress cut the lead to 3 points. A three pointer by Missouri and a dunk by Willie Cauley-Stein in the final 5 seconds left the Cats down 4 at the half, 35-31. After trailing by 13 points, 28-15, the Cats finished the first half on a 16-7 run to trim the lead to only 4 points.

UK scored its 31 points on 35 possessions for the half, and MISSOURI scored its 35 points on 34 possessions. Missouri won the battle of the boards in the first half 27-18, and Missouri won on the offensive boards, 12-4. Missouri converted its 12 second chance possessions into 10 second chance points, and Kentucky used its 4 second chances for 5 points. MISSOURI had an offensive efficiency of 0.735 ppp on its 34 first chance possessions and 0.833 ppp for its 12 second chance possession. UK had 0.743 ppp on its 35 first chance possessions and 1.250 ppp on its 4 second chance possessions. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed a poor 21.1% of its misses as offensive rebounds while MISSOURI was able to convert 46.2% of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.

UK hit poorly from the free throw line in this half, making 7 of 12 attempts (58.3%). MISSOURI finished 5-7 [71.4%] from the free throw line. The Cats hit 11 of 28 (39.3%) shots in the first half including 2-10 (20.0%) from long range. For MISSOURI, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was a strong 12-29 [41.4%] and from long range, MISSOURI hit 2-9 [22.2%].

The Cats committed 5 turnovers, one for every 7.0 possessions. The Cats forced 4 MISSOURI turnovers, one for every 8.5 possessions.

Second Half:

The Cats open the second half with a 3 pointer by Goodwin to trim the lead to 1 point. Goodwin then steals the ball and slams the dunk home to give the Cats a 1 point lead. After the teams trade baskets on two consecutive possessions, a Goodwin dunk lifts the Cats to a 3 point lead, 42-39. A 3 pointer by Mays extends the Cats' lead to 4 points 45-41. However, Missouri answers with a 3 pointer of their own to trim the lead to a single point, 47-46, at the under 16 media timeout, with the Cats in possession of the ball. After the Cats ease back on top by 3 points, Missouri gets a 3 point play and a run out basket to regain the lead by 2 points, prompting Coach Calipari to call a timeout with 13:11 left in the game.

After the timeout, the Cats get a second chance basket, and after a defensive stop, Goodwin drained his second 3 pointer of the game to lift the Cats back into a 3 point lead at the under 12 media timeout with 11:49 to play. After the timeout, Oriaki will be shooting a pair of free throws. He made 1 of 2 to trim the Kentucky lead to 2 points. However, the Cats get another second chance basket by Mays, and after a defensive stop, Mays drains a 3 pointer from the corner to lift the Cats to their biggest lead, 7 points, 62-55, forcing a Missouri timeout with 9:03 to play.

After the timeout, Missouri stops the run with a basket, and then Kyle Wiltjer throws the ball away for a turnover. However, Missouri then turns it back over to the Cats, and Goodwin drove for a basket, his 14 th point of this second half, to lift the Cats back on top by 7, 64-57, at the under 8 media timeout and Missouri in possession and 7:25 to play in the game. In the fourth segment, Missouri outscores the Cats 6-2 on the first 4 possessions, and Coach Calipari takes a timeout with 4:25 to go. After the timeout, Missouri fouled Willie Cauley-Stein as the shot clock wound down, but Willie Cauley-Stein missed the first of two, to put the Cats up by 4, and following a Missouri basket, Mays drained a 3 pointer as the shot clock was under 5 seconds to lift the Cats by 5, 70-65. Missouri answered with a basket, and then fouled Goodwin on a drive to take the game to its final media timeout with 2:36 to play. Goodwin will have 2 free throws after this timeout.

After the timeout, Goodwin made 1 of 2, and Missouri wasted not time tieing the score on back to back baskets the second off a Goodwin turnover. Then Missouri fouled Mays on a 3 point attempt with 1:31 to play. Mays made 2 of the 3 attempts. Missouri makes 2 free throws to tie the score, and then Missouri gets a run out basket off a Kentucky turnover with under 1 minutes to play to give Missouri a 2 point lead, 75-73. Coach Calipari used his final timeout of the game following the turnaround.

The Cats get it inside to Willie Cauley-Stein for a basket to tie the game with 40 seconds to play, and Missouri takes a timeout with a 36.3 seconds to play (31 on the shot clock). Missouri missed, and a half court attempt by Mays at the buzzer missed the mark. Overtime for the second time this season, and the score is 75-75.

In the overtime, the Cats turn the ball over twice, miss a pair of free throws, but somehow manage to remain in a tie with Missouri, 79-79, with 2 minutes remaining and Missouri in possession of the ball. Missouri takes a timeout.

The Cats stop, and score at the other end, and after a Missouri turnover, they foul Alex Poythress on his run out, and Alex Poythress makes both. Missouri quickly scored to trim the lead back to 2 points with 43.4 seconds to play, and Missouri uses another timeout. They foul Harrow on the inbound pass, and still 42.9 to play. Harrow makes both for a 4 point lead, and after Missouri misses a quick 3 point attempt, they foul Mays after he secured the rebound. Mays makes both. Missouri again misses a quick 3 point attempt, and they foul Mays again after the rebound.

Mays again makes both, and Missouri scores a quick basket to trim the lead to 6 points and takes their final timeout with 16 seconds to play and the Cats on top 89-83. After the Cats get the ball inbounds, Missouri fouled Goodwin who missed the first and makes the second for a 7 point lead, and a 7 point victory, 90-83 in overtime.


UK scored its 90 points in 78 possessions [1.15 ppp] for the game, and MISSOURI scored its 83 points on 77 possessions [1.08 ppp].

Kentucky won the boards, with a rebounding edge 41-39, But, Missouri won the battle of the offensive glass 17-12, but in the second half, the Cats had an advantage on the offensive glass of 8-5. MISSOURI converted its 17 second chance possessions into 15 second chance points while Kentucky converted their 12 second chance possessions to score 14 second chance points. MISSOURI had an offensive efficiency of 0.883 ppp on its 77 first chance possessions and 0.882 ppp for its 17 second chance possessions. UK had 0.974 ppp on its 78 first chance possessions and 1.167 ppp on its 12 second chance possessions. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed 35.3% of its misses as offensive rebounds while MISSOURI was able to convert 37.0% of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.

Kentucky shot poorly from the free throw line in this game, making 23-36 [63.9%]. MISSOURI made 12-17 [70.6%] for the game. Field goal shooting for UK was 30-59 overall [50.8%] and 7-17 from long range [41.2%]. For MISSOURI, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was a strong 28-56 [50.0%] and from long range, MISSOURI hit 5-20 [25.0%].

The Cats who committed 14 turnovers, one for every 5.6 possessions. The Cats forced 9 MISSOURI turnovers, one for every 8.6 possessions.

Prior to the game, the NGE analysis predicted a 6 point Kentucky win, 73-67 at a pace of 69 possessions for UK and 69 possessions for MISSOURI. The final score was 90 (73) to 83 (67) at a pace of 78 possessions for the Cats and 77 possessions for MISSOURI. The UK offensive efficiency for the game was 1.154 ppp (1.058 ppp) and the UK defensive efficiency was 1.078 ppp (0.971 ppp).

Next Game On Schedule: Wednesday, February 27, 2013 when the Cats return to Rupp for the last of the three game homestand when they will play Mississippi State.

Submitted by Richard Cheeks


Submitted by Richard Cheeks


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