2012-13 Season Analytical Writings

Cats Take Their "New Attitude" On The Road

When Patti LaBelle released her disco tune, New Attitude, in 1985, I doubt that she was foretelling the story of the 2012-13 Kentucky Wildcats, but that is exactly what this song must have been about.

Runnin' hot, runnin' cold
I was runnin' into overload,
it was extreme I took it so high, so low
So low, there was nowhere to go
like a bad dream
Somehow the wires uncrossed,
my tables were turned
Never knew I had such a lesson to learn
I'm feelin' good from my head to my shoes
Know where I'm goin' and I know what to do
I tidied up my point of view
I got a new attitude!

These Wildcats clearly have found a new attitude, and it gives all the warm, fuzzy feelings to Big Blue Fans about the possibilities for this team that we have not felt in our veins since late October. Of course, the “new attitude” that these Cats are showing, is the “old attitude” that many fans simply presumed would always exist within a John Calipari coached basketball team. It just took this group of new comers 25 games to uncross their wires, and turn their tables.

They have also been blessed with 3 consecutive Rupp Arena appearances to try the new attitude out on opponents, and refine its presentation. Now it is time to take this show on the road to see if it is really Broadway material. The road tests will happen at Arkansas on Saturday, and at Georgia mid week. If the Cats' “new attitude” show successfully plays on the road, then start selling the tickets for March 9 when the Cats go back on the National Stage once again to show the rest of the world that this is real; this is legitimate.

As I mentioned before the Tennessee game, after the loss of Nerlens Noel, I would remain true to my method of analysis in the face of the loss of the team's most efficient player, the team's heart and soul. The old tried and true method of analysis could not account for the complete disorganization that the Volunteers exposed in Knoxville, but this team has steadied itself, and managed a 7 point win (6 point predicted margin) over Missouri, albeit the victory required an overtime to achieve. Then the team stabilized with a 30 point win (28 point predicted margin) against Mississippi State. However, most Cats fans seem to believe this morning that this team is playing its best basketball of the season, and the majority may be exactly right. That is an intangible factor that hopefully will lift these Cats to a victory in Fayetteville on Saturday afternoon. However, it is also generally agreed that Arkansas is playing far superior basketball at Bud Walton Arena than their average performance measures for the season will suggest for this match up. For these reasons, I will assume temporary Missouri residency, and tell these Cats to “Show” me.

Arkansas enters this game with a 17-11 record, 8-7 in the SEC. The seven Razorback losses in SEC play have all occurred on the road, and the Razorbacks have not lost at home to any SEC opponent, and only once this season, to #9 Syracuse by 9 on November 30. Among the Hogs' home victims this season include #50 Oklahoma, #27 Missouri by 2, and #1 Florida by 11. The Hogs are a dangerous basketball opponent when they are in Bud Walton Arena. When they leave their own beds, they have a combined record of 1-10 as compared to 16-1 when they can sleep in their own beds the night before they play. Arkansas's schedule has been respectable because of its SEC portion, lifting the Razorbacks to 86 th most difficult in D1 basketball (0.6062 per Pomeroy).

At 8-7 with three games remaining, the Razorbacks are jockeying for SEC Tournament seeding position, but a double bye into the quarterfinals is out of reach now, and they have too many wins to fall into that dreadful bottom 4 group that must play on Wednesday.

ARKANSAS has averaged about 72 possessions per game, producing 74.2 ppg (1.03 ppp) and allowing 68.3 ppg (0.95 ppp). ARKANSAS has turned the ball over on 16.5% of its possessions while forcing turnovers on 24.4% of opponent possessions. On the Boards, ARKANSAS has secured an offensive rebounding rate of 31.5% about 2% below the 33% NCAA average, and a defensive rebounding rate of 66.2%, about the same as the NCAA average.

In contrast, the Cats have averaged about 69 possessions per game, producing 75.3 ppg (1.09 ppp) and allowing 64.4 ppg (0.94 ppp) against a schedule strength of 0.6274 (71 st ). The Cats have committed turnovers on 19.1% of its possessions and forced turnovers on 18.0% of opponent possessions. On the Boards, the Cats' rebounding rates have been 34.9% and 68.8% on the offensive and defensive ends.

Based on this distribution, the analysis tips in favor of Arkansas by the slimmest of margins, 1 point, 70-71 in a game played at a pace of 71 possessions for the Cats and 70 possessions for ARKANSAS. Pomeroy figures the Game in Kentucky's favor by 1 points, 75-74 at a pace of 73 possessions. The likely margin range for this matchup is Arkansas by 10 to Kentucky by 8 points.

Game Summary:

As he throughout the three game home stand, 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 score first on a second chance basket. Arkansas answers, but the Cats then go on a 9-4 run over the balance of the opening segment to take an 11-6 lead at the under 16 media timeout. Archie Goodwin, returning to his home state for the first time since joining the Wildcats is a target of a couple of Arkansas former AAU teammates, and one of them, Young, slammed Goodwin to the floor on a drive at the end of that segment, so Goodwin will have two free throws after the timeout. In the opening segment, the Cats used their 7 possessions every efficiently, posting 11 points, while Arkansas could only manage 6 points.

Goodwin made the first, but missed the second, and Arkansas used back to back turnovers by Harrow to score 4 straight to trim the lead to 2 points, 12-10, forcing Coach Calipari to call a timeout with 14:12 to play in the first half. On the inbounds play, the Cats turn it over for the third straight possession, but this time, Arkansas charges and can't convert the Kentucky miscue into points. After a flurry of missed shots at each end of the Court, Kentucky commits its 4 th turnover of the segment, and 6 th of the first 7 minutes. This time, Arkansas converts with a 3 pointer to take their first lead of the day, 13-12 at the under 12 media timeout, and the Cats in possession.

In the first 8 minutes, the Cats are shooting 50%, and 1-3 from long range while Arkansas is hitting 37.5%, and 1-4 from long range. However, the Hogs have gotten 6 more shots due to a 4-2 advantage on the offensive glass and a 6-3 advantage on turnovers. After the timeout, each team missed three shots before Harrow scored on a layup to lift the Cats back into the lead, and following another Arkansas miss, Willie Cauley-Stein was fouled, but he missed both. At the other end, Arkansas reclaimed the lead, and following a miss by Harrow, Arkansas gets a runout that results in a 3 point play when Goodwin fouls the shooter. After the free throw, the Cats fail to get the ball in bounds. This time the Hogs can't expand their 4 point lead, and Goodwin makes 2 free throws to trim the lead back to 2 points. After the Cats pull even at 18-18, Arkansas drains their second 3 pointer of the game, and Goodwin answered with a coast to coast layup to pull the Cats to within 1 point, 21-20 at the under 8 media timeout with 6:37 to play, and Arkansas with the ball.

In the fourth segment, Arkansas moves out to a 5 point lead, 25-20, but the Cats answered with the next 4 points to trim the lead back to 1 point at the under 4 media timeout. After the timeout, Arkansas will have the ball with 3:47 to play in the first half. Polson put the Cats back on top by a point, 26-25, but Arkansas answered with a 3 pointer. After the Cats drew even at 28-28, Arkansas answered with another 3 pointer. Willie Cauley-Stein made one of two free throws to trim the Hogs' lead to two points. After Arkansas missed their shot attempt, Kyle Wiltjer could not get the rebound, and Arkansas gets the last possession. After two misses and two offensive rebounds, Powell is fouled and makes the first. When Kyle Wiltjer fails to get another defensive rebound, Arkansas got yet another final possession, but could not make the Cats pay for their lack of aggressive play. Arkansas leads by 3 points, 32-29, at the half.

UK scored its 29 points on 35 possessions for the half, and ARKANSAS scored its 32 points on 35 possessions. Kentucky won the battle of the boards in the first half 24-21, but Arkansas owned the offensive glass, by a 10-6 margin. Arkansas converted its 10 second chance possessions into 5 second chance points, and Kentucky used its 6 second chances for 7 points. ARKANSAS had an offensive efficiency of 0.771 ppp on its 35 first chance possessions and 0.500 ppp for its 10 second chance possession. UK had 0.629 ppp on its 35 first chance possessions and 1.167 ppp on its 6 second chance possessions. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed a strong 35.3% of its misses as offensive rebounds while ARKANSAS was able to convert 35.7% of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.

UK hit poorly from the free throw line in this half, making 6 of 11 attempts (54.5%). ARKANSAS finished 4-6 [66.7%] from the free throw line. The Cats hit 11 of 24 (45.8%) shots in the first half including 1-6 (16.7%) from long range. For ARKANSAS, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was a weak 8-23 [34.8%] and from long range, ARKANSAS hit 4-16 [25.0%].

The Cats committed 11 turnovers, one for every 3.2 possessions. The Cats forced 3 ARKANSAS turnovers, one for every 11.7 possessions.

Second Half:

The Cats open the second half and go inside to Alex Poythress on the first possession. The Hogs foul Alex Poythress. Alex Poythress makes both to trim the lead back to one point, but Arkansas answers with a 3 pointer, a forced Kentucky turnover, a layup, and on the next possession, the Cats are forced to take a timeout when Goodwin finds himself in a trap with no one to release the ball to. The Hogs go up by their biggest lead, 6 points, 37-31 with 18:51 to play in the game. After the timeout, 4 straight Kentucky turnovers are converted to 11 straight Arkansas points, a 43-31 lead. The Cats manage to trim 2 points off the 12 point lead, to trail by 10 points, 43-33 at the under 16 media timeout. Polson will be shooting a pair of free throws after the timeout.

In that opening segment, each team had 7 possessions, but the Cats only managed 2 shots and 2 free throw for the effort while Arkansas was 4-7 including 2 3 pointers and a 3 point play. The tendency of this team to come out weak to start the second half has appeared again today. Polson made both, and after the Cats cut the lead to 7, Arkansas gets a put back 3 point play, and following yet another Kentucky turnover, a pair of free throws to expand the lead back to 12 points, 54-42 at the under 12 media timeout. Goodwin will be shooting a pair of free throws after the timeout. Goodwin misses both shots, and Arkansas scores on the other end to move on top by 14. After Arkansas misses the second of two free throws, the Cats commit yet another turnover leading to a run out basket, putting the Hogs on top by 15, 59-44 forcing another Kentucky timeout. Each team scores two more points to the under 8 media timeout, and Willie Cauley-Stein will be shooting the bonus after the timeout.

Willie Cauley-Stein missed the front end on two straight opportunities. When your turnover differential, and offensive rebounding differential provides your opponent with 30 extra shots, and when you compound that madness by missing free throws including multiple front ends, it is difficult to manage to even be in the ball game, and that is the story of this game. At the final media timeout, the Cats are down 11, 67-56, with only 2:37 to plan and Arkansas shooting a pair of free throws after the timeout. Cats lose by 13, 73-60.


UK scored its 60 points in 70 possessions [0.86 ppp] for the game, and ARKANSAS scored its 73 points on 70 possessions [1.04 ppp].

Arkansas won the boards, with a rebounding edge 44-39, and Arkansas won the battle of the offensive glass 20-7. ARKANSAS converted its 20 second chance possessions into 12 second chance points while Kentucky converted their 7 second chance possessions to score 13 second chance points. ARKANSAS had an offensive efficiency of 0.871 ppp on its 70 first chance possessions and 0.600 ppp for its 20 second chance possessions. UK had 0.671 ppp on its 70 first chance possessions and 1.857 ppp on its 7 second chance possessions. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed 22.5% of its misses as offensive rebounds while ARKANSAS was able to convert 38.5% of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.

Kentucky shot poorly from the free throw line in this game, making 17-27 [63.0%] and missing the front end of several bonus opportunities. ARKANSAS made 19-29 [66.5%] for the game. Field goal shooting for UK was 20-43 overall [46.5%] and 3-14 from long range [21.4%]. For ARKANSAS, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was a low 18-44 40.9%] and from long range, ARKANSAS hit 6-25 [24.0%].

The Cats who committed 19 turnovers, one for every 3.7 possessions. The Cats forced 7 ARKANSAS turnovers, one for every 10.0 possessions.

Prior to the game, the NGE analysis predicted a 1 point Kentucky loss, 70-71 at a pace of 71 possessions for UK and 70 possessions for ARKANSAS. The final score was 60 (70) to 73 (71) at a pace of 70 possessions for the Cats and 70 possessions for ARKANSAS. The UK offensive efficiency for the game was 0.857 ppp (0.986 ppp) and the UK defensive efficiency was 1.043 ppp (1.014 ppp).

Next Game On Schedule: Thursday, March 7, 2013 when the Cats go back on the road for the last time this season to take on Georgia..

Submitted by Richard Cheeks


Submitted by Richard Cheeks


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