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2013-14 Season Analytical Writings
In recent years, the Kentucky basketball non-conference basketball schedule had its marquee games against the likes of North Carolina, Louisville, Indiana, with the SEC-Big East Challenge adding a key BCS matchup, and an appearance in one of the November events like the Champions Classic, Maui, or others providing a top flight match up. The remainder of the non-conference schedule, during both November and December, was filled with opponents that are affectionately characterized as “cupcakes.” This season, the schedule maker has provided a similar number of marquee matchups and “cupcakes” but instead of marquee appearances being dispersed among the “cupcakes” through the 2 month period, this year, November has been dedicated to “cupcakes” (except the Michigan State game in the Champions Classic) and December is dedicated to nothing but marquee matchups.
On Sunday, the Cats will step into December and begin a sequence of 6 games against opponents, each capable of not only going toe to toe with these Cats, but winning in each and every game. The combined win-loss record of the six December opponents currently stands at 36-5 with no team having more than a single loss on its scorecard at the end of November. Furthermore, UNC's loss is to UK opponent Belmont, and Louisville's loss is to UK opponent UNC. In contrast, outside of Michigan State which finished its November calendar without a loss, the other six November opponents stand with a combined record of 12-19, excluding the losses they sustained to UK.
So, as the Cats step into December, they will face a significantly stepped up slate of opponents. First in line for the Cats will be the Providence Friars in this years final installment of the SEC-Big East Challenge at the Barclay's Center in Brooklyn, New York. Admittedly, the Cats' last two steps through the cupcakes of November were anything but inspiring. In contrast, the Providence November has been steady if anything.
The trip to the Big Apple will only be the second time this season that the Cats have ventured away from Rupp Arena. In their only other trip, they returned home from Chicago a 4 point loser to Michigan State. Providence, on the other hand, has already played 3 of their 8 games on a neutral floor in the Virgin Islands Paradise jam at St. Thomas where the Friars beat Vanderbilt by 7 and La Salle by 8 before losing in the championship game to #39 Maryland by 4. The Friars most impressive win this season was the 7 point victory over # 83 Vanderbilt. The PROVIDENCE early schedule strength has been 0.4550 (#236).
PROVIDENCE has averaged about 69 to 70 possessions per game, producing 73.3 ppg (1.03 ppp) and allowing 61.5 ppg (0.91 ppp). PROVIDENCE has turned the ball over on 18.3% of its possessions while forcing turnovers on 20.2% of opponent possessions. On the Boards, PROVIDENCE has secured an offensive rebounding rate of 37.1% about 5% above the 32% NCAA average, and a defensive rebounding rate of 72.0%, about 4% above the NCAA average.
In contrast, the Cats have averaged about 72 possessions per game, producing 85.3 ppg (1.15 ppp) and allowing 63.9 ppg (0.93 ppp) against a schedule strength of 0..366 (298 th ). The Cats have committed turnovers on 17.8% of its possessions and forced turnovers on 16.8% of opponent possessions. On the Boards, the Cats' rebounding rates have been 49.0% and 70.5% on the offensive and defensive ends.
Based on this distribution, the analysis tips in favor of Kentucky by 8 points, 75-67 in a game played at a pace of 70 possessions for the Cats and 71 possessions for PROVIDENCE. Pomeroy figures the Game in Kentucky's favor by 7 points, 77-70 at a pace of 72 possessions.
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Coach Calipari has indicated that Willie Cauley-Stein will return to the starting lineup tonight, probably sending Lee back to the bench. Four freshmen will be starting with Willie Cauley-Stein, Randle, Young, and the Harrison Twins. Lee, Poythress, and Johnson will be the primary players in the 8 man game rotation. Jon Hood is still recovering from the concussion, and did not make the trip to Brooklyn with the team.
Willie Cauley-Stein controls the opening tip, and the Cats go directly to Randle who scores inside the paint. A pair of free throws by Andrew and a driving layup by Andrew lifted the Cats to a quick 6-0 lead before the Friars managed their first points on a pair of free throws. At the end under 16 media timeout, the Cats lead by 6, 11-5, and Providence will have the ball. In the second segment, after the teams exchange turnovers, the Cats work the boards, and get a 3 pointer on a second chance, prompting a Providence timeout with about 14 minutes to play with the Cats up by 9 points, 14-5. Over the remainder of the second segment, the teams traded baskets to a 18-10 score at the under 12 media timeout.
In the third segment, Randle scores on the low post to lift the Cats up by 10, but Providence 3 pointer trimmed the lead back to 7 just before Andrew Harrison committed his 2 nd foul of the game. The Friars hit two more 3 pointers in the segment, both following offensive rebounds, to cut the lead to 3 points 23-20 before Hawkins makes a baseline jump shot to lift the Cats up by 5 points, 25-20 at the under 8 media timeout, and the Cats have the ball after the timeout.
In the fourth segment, the teams played on relatively even terms, and the Cats continue to hold to a 5 point lead, 35-30, at the under 4 media timeout, with 3:36 to play, and the Cats in possession of the ball. In the final segment, the Friars catch up after being down by 10, at 35-35 with about 2 minutes left in the first half. The Cats score the final 4 points of the half to take a 4 point lead, 39-35, to the locker room.
UK scored its 39 points in a total of 32 possessions for the half, and Providence scored its 35 points on a total of 31 possessions. Kentucky won the battle of the board in the first half, 20-16, but Providence controlled the offensive glass, and the second chance points in the first half 4-8 and 5-11 respectively. Providenc1.375 ppp for its 8-second chance possessions. UK had 1.063 ppp on its 32 first chance possessions and 1.250 ppp on its 4-second chance possessions. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed low 33.3% of its misses as offensive rebounds while Providence was able to convert a similar 33.3% of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.
UK hit poorly from the free throw line in this half, making 3-6 [50.0%]. Providence was 7-11 [63.6%] for the half. Field goal shooting for UK was 16-26 overall [61.5%] and 4-5 from long range [80.0%]. For Providence, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was a weak,5-25 [20.0%] and from long range, Providence hit 6-8 [75.0%].
The Cats committed 7 turnovers in the first half, 1 for each 4.6 possessions Providence committed 1 turnovers in this first half, one for each 31 possessions.
Cotton opens the second half with his 4 th 3 pointer However, the Cats have an answer, and its name is Willie Cauley-Stein. Two consecutive second chance baskets, two consecutive blocks that then led to a fast break dunk by Willie Cauley-Stein to extend the lead to 9 points 47-38, forcing a Providence timeout with 15:47 to play in the game. After the timeout, Cotton stops the Kentucky run with his 5 th 3 pointer, and his 19 th point of the game leading to the under 16 media timeout with the Cats up by 6, 47-41, with 15:04 to play, and Providence in possession following the Cats' 9 th turnover of the game.
The teams traded baskets until Kentucky starts another run to extend their lead to a game high 11 points at the under 12 media timeout, 56-45, with 11:35 to play in the game. In the third segment, the teams played on even terms, and the Cats continue to lead by 12 points, 62-50 at the under 8 media timeout and have the ball.
The starting five remain in the game for the final 8 minutes for the Cats. Out of the timeout, Young gets to the line, and makes both shots to put the lead at 14, a game high, but on Providence's next possession, Andrew Harrison commits his 4 th foul, and Providence makes both of their shots. Young makes another pair of free throws, and following Willie Cauley-Stein's 8 th block of the game, Hawkins drains a 3 pointer to left the Cats to a 17 point lead, 69-52 with 6:40 to play. Providence takes a timeout. At the under 4 media timeout, the Cats lead is 15 points, 72-57, and Providence will be shooting a pair of free throws after the break.
The teams play out the final segment and the Cats secure their 7 th win in eight starts by 14 points, 79-65.
UK scored its 79 points in a total of 60 possessions (1.317 ppp) for the game, and Providence scored its 65 points on a total of 60 possessions (1.083 ppp). Kentucky won the battle of the boards, with a rebounding edge 35-30, but the Friars won the battle of the offensive glass 18-7. Kentucky used its 7 second chance possessions to score 9 second chance points, and Providence converted their 18 offensive rebounds into 18 second chance points. Providence had an offensive efficiency of 0.783 ppp on its 60 first chance possessions and 1.000 ppp for its 18 second chance possessions. UK had 1.167 ppp on its 60 first chance possessions and 1.286 ppp on its 7 second chance possessions. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed a below average 36.8% of its misses as offensive rebounds while Providence was able to convert a powerful 39.1% of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.
UK hit well from the free throw line in this game, making 19-25 [76.0%]. Providence made 17-23 [73.9%] for the game. Field goal shooting for UK was 27-42 overall [64.3%] and 6-8 from long range [75.0%]. For Providence, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was a low 9-42 [21.4%] and from long range, Providence hit 10-19 [52.6%].
The Cats committed 13 turnovers, one for every 4.6 possessions. The Cats forced 6 Providence turnovers, one for every 10.0 possessions.
Next Game On Schedule: Friday evening against Baylor at the A T & T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
Submitted by Richard Cheeks
Submitted by Richard Cheeks