BIG BLUE FANS FOR
2012-13 Season Analytical Writings
The Jekyll and Hyde Cats played the great split personality game again in the last week of the regular season, losing by 10 to a clearly inferior Georgia team and then beating the nations best team, Florida, by 4 at Rupp Arena on senior day. So, the question remains, which personality will make an appearance in Nashville on Friday night when then Jekyll and Hyde Cats face the local Vanderbilt Commodores. Yes, Vanderbilt survived against the Arkansas Hogs on Thursday night to advance into the SEC Quarterfinal round.
Vanderbilt and Kentucky met twice during the SEC regular season. The league opener for both in Nashville, and the rematch at Rupp six weeks later, and 3 weeks ago. In the first game, the Cats were a double digit favorite going into the game, and the Cats opened the game in that manner, opening a 15 point lead, 29-14, by the under 4 media timeout of the first half. However, in those final 4 minutes, the Cats seemed to relax, and Vanderbilt trimmed 4 points off the lead to reduce it to a manageable 11 points at the half. In the second half, the teams traded punches for the first 10 minutes, but at the under 8 media timeout, Vanderbilt had trimmed the Kentucky lead to only 2 points, and they tied the score at the under 4 media timeout. The Cats moved up by 4 points, and after Vanderbilt made 1 of 2 free throws, the officials allowed a Nerlens Noel basket at the end of the shot clock to stand even though replay after replay demonstrated the shot occurred after time had expired. Vandy hit a 3 pointer, stole the inbounds pass, and missed a 3 point attempt at the buzzer for what would have been the Vandy win. The final margin was marked by Nerlens Noel's controversial score, a 2-point Kentucky win.
In the return match, at Rupp, the Cats entered the game nearly a 17 point favorite. Just as they did in Nashville, the Cats moved on top early in this game, leading by 14 points after only 9:31 of play. But, just as happened in Nashville, the Commodores trimmed that Kentucky lead to a very manageable 8 points by halftime. In the second half, the teams again traded punches for the first 12 minutes, with the Cats leading by 10 points at the under 8 media timeout. However, by the under 4 media timeout, Vanderbilt had cut the Kentucky lead to only 2 points, and the Cats hung on down the stretch for a 4 point home court win.
In Nashville, arguably a tie, 10 points below the line, and at Rupp, 13 points under the line, with Nerlens Noel riding the bench. So, wind the Clock forward to March 15, 2013, back in Nashville, Tennessee, and these teams will meet for the third time this season. Last year's third meeting of these teams (Both much better than they are now) saw Vanderbilt defy their 0-2 record against the Cats and hand the eventual national champions what would be their second loss of the entire season. The adage is that it is tough to beat the same team three times in one season. Déjà vu.
Vanderbilt enters this game with a 15-16 record, 8-8 in the SEC regular season, and a second round victory over Arkansas in this SEC Tournament. Overall, Vanderbilt's schedule has been respectable the 69 th most difficult in D1 basketball (0..6467 per Pomeroy). VANDERBILT has averaged about 62 possessions per game, producing 60.0 ppg (0.96 ppp) and allowing 60.0 ppg (0.96 ppp). VANDERBILT has turned the ball over on 19.9% of its possessions while forcing turnovers on 18.9% of opponent possessions. On the Boards, VANDERBILT has secured an offensive rebounding rate of 28.4% about 5% below the 33% NCAA average, and a defensive rebounding rate of 70.5%, about 3% better than the NCAA average.
In contrast, the Cats have averaged about 69 possessions per game, producing 73.9 ppg (1.07 ppp) and allowing 64.6 ppg (0.94 ppp) against a schedule strength of 0.6588 (60 th ). The Cats have committed turnovers on 19.1% of its possessions and forced turnovers on 17.7% of opponent possessions. On the Boards, the Cats' rebounding rates have been 34.6% and 68.6% on the offensive and defensive ends.
Based on this distribution, the analysis tips in favor of Kentucky by 9 points, 69-60 in a game played at a pace of 66 possessions for the Cats and 65 possessions for VANDERBILT. The likely margin range for this matchup is pick ‘em to Kentucky by 18 points. Based on the first two meetings that saw Vanderbilt out perform this model by 10 and 13 points gives credence to Cat fans who say they have a guarded optimism about this game
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 Vandy draws first blood. The Cats match the initial basket with a put back basket by Willie Cauley-Stein. However, Vandy then scores a 3 pointer, with Goodwin answering with a drive to his left hand to pull the Cats to within 1 points, 4-5, at the under 16 media timeout. The Cats will have the ball after the timeout. In the second segment, Vandy uses 3-5 shooting compared to only 2-6 shooting by the Cats to stretch their early lead to 4 points, 12-8, at the under 12 media timeout, and Alex Poythress will be shooting a pair of free throws when play resumes. Alex Poythress misses the first and makes the second to trim the lead to 3 points. However, Vandy extends the lead to 5 points with a basket before Alex Poythress makes the Cats' first 3 pointer of the game to trim the lead back to 2 points, which is the margin at the under 8 media timeout with 7:17 to play and the score 16-14, Vandy.
Vandy puts the ball into play under its own basket after the timeout. Vandy outscores the Cats 7-2 in the first 2 minutes of the segment to extend their lead to 7 points, 23-16 with 4:53 to play, and Willie Cauley-Stein has picked up his second foul. On the next possession, the Cats turn it over to Vandy. The early pace of this game is in the mid 50s, which if that pace holds for the game, will be one of the slowest paced games of the season for Kentucky. On Vandy's next possession, Goodwin commits his second foul. On the continuation of the possession, Polson fouls, sending Vandy back to the line for 2 more free throws, and they make both.
Jon Hood stops the Vandy run with a 3 pointer, but Vandy takes Hood to the rim at the other end to score, giving Vandy an 8 point lead, 27-19, at the under 4 media timeout with 3:35 to play in the first half. In the final segment of the half, Vandy continues to hit from the arc, and expand the lead as they do, going up by 12 after back to back 3 pointers, and a basket at the end of the half gives Vanderbilt their biggest lead of the game, and the Cats' biggest halftime deficit of the season, 14 points, 37-23.
UK scored its 23 points on 24 possessions for the half, and VANDERBILT scored its 37 points on 25 possessions. Kentucky won the battle of the boards in the first half 15-11, and Kentucky won the offensive glass, by a 8-2 margin. Vanderbilt converted its 2 second chance possessions into 4 second chance points, and Kentucky used its 8 second chances for 12 points. VANDERBILT had an offensive efficiency of 1.320 ppp on its 25 first chance possessions and 2.000 ppp for its 2 second chance possession. UK had 0.458 ppp on its 24 first chance possessions and 1.500 ppp on its 8 second chance possessions. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed a weak 47.1% of its misses as offensive rebounds while VANDERBILT was able to convert 22.2% of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.
UK hit well from the free throw line in this half, making 3 of 4 attempts (75.0%). VANDERBILT finished 6-6 [100.0%] from the free throw line. The Cats hit 9 of 25 (36.0%) 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 strong 8-14 [57.1%] and from long range, VANDERBILT hit 5-8 [62.5%].
The Cats committed 5 turnovers, one for every 4.8 possessions. The Cats forced 2 VANDERBILT turnovers, one for every 12.5 possessions.
The Cats open the second half with a 3 pointer by Mays, but Vandy runs the shot clock down to 1 second, and scores on an uncontested layup, and then converts a turnover off a lazy pass into another layup to extend the lead to 15 points, 41-26, forcing a quick timeout by Coach Calipari after less than 90 seconds into the second half.
The Cats' offense has been off a degree or two, but they have still managed to produce 26 points on just 26 possessions. The problem with this game has been exposed at the defensive end where Vandy has score 41 points on only 27 total possessions (1.519 ppp for the game). Out of the timeout, the Cats fail to get a good shot, and Vanderbilt drains an uncontested 3 pointer to move up by 18 points, 44-26 forcing Coach Calipari to call another timeout, this one only 45 seconds after the last one. The opening segment finally closes with Vandy on top by 19 points, 48-29 after making all 5 of its shots. Over the last 8 minutes, Vanderbilt is 5-5 from inside the arc, 3-3 outside the arc, and 2-2 from the line, while the Cats have managed only 3 baskets total in those same 8 minutes.
In the second segment, Vanderbilt comes up dry on five straight possessions, and the Cats score 8 straight points to pull back to within 11 points, 48-37, with 12:42 to play, forcing Vanderbilt to call a timeout. After the timeout, Vanderbilt went straight at Willie Cauley-Stein for a layup to stop the Kentucky run, and another Vandy 3 pointer after a Kentucky miss moves the Commodores back on top by 16 at the under 12 media timeout, with only 10:55 to play in the game. In the third segment, the Cats can pull no closer than 12 points, 53-41 at the under 8 media timeout with only 6:53 to play, and Vandy set to shoot a pair of free throws after the timeout. It is not so much a timeout, as time running out on this Kentucky season.
At the under 4 media timeout, the Cats trail by 17 points, 62-45, with Goodwin set to shoot a pair of free throws after the break. Goodwin missed them both. The Cats are one and done in the SEC tournament, losing to Vanderbilt 64-48.
UK scored its 48 points in 53 possessions [0.91 ppp] for the game, and VANDERBILT scored its 64 points on 51 possessions [1.26 ppp].
Kentucky won the boards, with a rebounding edge 32-30, and Kentucky won the battle of the offensive glass 14-6. VANDERBILT converted its 6 second chance possessions into 9 second chance points while Kentucky converted their 14 second chance possessions to score 20 second chance points. VANDERBILT had an offensive efficiency of 1.078 ppp on its 51 first chance possessions and 1.500 ppp for its 6 second chance possessions. UK had 0.528 ppp on its 53 first chance possessions and 1.429 ppp on its 14 second chance possessions. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed 36.8% of its misses as offensive rebounds while VANDERBILT was able to convert 25.0% of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.
Kentucky shot poorly from the free throw line in this game, making 8-16 [50.0%] and missing the front end of several bonus opportunities. VANDERBILT made 10-11 [90.9%] for the game. Field goal shooting for UK was 18-52 overall [34.6%] and 4-14 from long range [28.6%]. For VANDERBILT, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was a high 15-29 [51.7%] and from long range, VANDERBILT hit 8-17 [47.1%].
The Cats who committed 7 turnovers, one for every 7.0 possessions. The Cats forced 5 VANDERBILT turnovers, one for every 10.2 possessions.
Prior to the game, the NGE analysis predicted a 7 point Kentucky win, 68-61 at a pace of 66 possessions for UK and 66 possessions for VANDERBILT. The final score was 48 (68) to 64 (61) at a pace of 49 possessions for the Cats and 50 possessions for VANDERBILT. The UK offensive efficiency for the game was 0.906 ppp (1.045 ppp) and the UK defensive efficiency was 1.255 ppp (0.924 ppp).
The Cats season may continue, but if it does it will either be as one of the last teams given an at large bid to the NCAA Tournament, or in the NIT. The team returns to Lexington to await the seeding decisions on Sunday evening.
Submitted by Richard Cheeks
Submitted by Richard Cheeks