BIG BLUE FANS FOR
2013-14 Season Analytical Writings
The Cats' test drive of the AT&T Stadium was marred by poor weather that dampened the turnout, and delayed by the Women who needed four overtimes to find show the women's basketball world that they have that determination to win when adversity is there to stare them down. The men also faced a test built on adversity in the nightcap, but they did not earn passing marks. The men, after a slow start that saw them fall behind by 9 points in the first 4 ½ minutes, saw them outscore 43-25 over the next 22 ½ minutes, and it appeared that this team would take care of business over the closing 13 minutes, and leave Arlington, Texas with a successful test drive of this year's Final Four venue, and sending a strong message to the rest of the college field that this year's championship hunt must pass through the UK Wildcats.
Then, something went wrong. Something went bad wrong. Baylor took the battle to the Cats inside, on the boards, and at the perimeter. Baylor challenged the Cats' manhood, and the Cats wilted in the face of the challenge. Over the final 13 minutes, Baylor outscored the Cats 26-12. In the aftermath of this wreckage, Coach Calipari cut short his post game press conference, walking out in a display of anger, perhaps disappointment. The Big Blue Nation has gone into a non-stop self examination of expectations, with many ready to throw the 2013-14 baby out with the bath water of Friday's failure.
For the fans, it is time to have a measure of confidence in Coach Calipari, his staff, and the players he has handpicked for this season of destiny. For the players, it is time to learn the tough lesson of college basketball at the collegiate level, the fact that every opponent will give their best possible effort in an attempt to hand the mighty Kentucky Wildcats a loss. Baylor is not unique in that regard. Baylor is a good basketball team, but they will not remain standing in late March, much less early April, when these Cats must remain viable in their quest. However, many college teams, that are good, but not distinguishable on the national stage, can beat a UK team when that UK team is not up to the challenge, is not prepared to respond when the opponent challenges their manhood as Baylor did on Friday night. For the coaches, it is time to deliver this message in words of one syllable that even 18-year-old college freshmen can comprehend.
There is not much time to right this ship. On Tuesday, the Cats make a pit stop at Rupp Arena where Boise State will be the next in line to step up to the challenge, and call these young Wildcats out on their ability to stare down adversity and win. Then it is on the road to face a surging North Carolina team that has overcome hardships of its own this season to emerge as one of the top teams again. It does not get any easier either because the Cats return to Rupp where Belmont (Beat North Carolina in Chapel Hill already) and then the most efficient team in the land, Louisville will both be waiting to make their Rupp Arena statements.
The Boise State Broncos are the next worthy opponent for the Cats. They bring an undefeated record into Rupp Arena, and are now holding a #62 Pomeroy rating. Seven of their eight games have been at home or semi-home, and their only venture out of the Taco Bell Arena, or its close proximity has been an excursion to the Crescent City where they defeated #347 New Orleans by 20 points. The Broncos' most impressive win to date was by 2 points over #86 Utah on December 3. However, Boise State has played two of its 8 games against Non-D1 opponents (Simpson CA and Carroll MT), winning by 57 in the former and by 28 in the latter. Boise State's early schedule strength has been 0.2758 (#344).
BOISE STATE has averaged about 70 possessions per game, producing 90.8 ppg (1.29 ppp) and allowing 75.2 ppg (1.01 ppp). BOISE STATE has turned the ball over on 13.7% of its possessions while forcing turnovers on 17.3% of opponent possessions. On the Boards, BOISE STATE has secured an offensive rebounding rate of 34.8% about 3% above the 32% NCAA average, and a defensive rebounding rate of 75.2%, about 7% above the NCAA average.
In contrast, the Cats have averaged about 70 possessions per game, producing 82.0 ppg (1.18 ppp) and allowing 64.3 ppg (0.93 ppp) against a schedule strength of 0..460 (231 st ). The Cats have committed turnovers on 17.9% of its possessions and forced turnovers on 16.5% of opponent possessions. On the Boards, the Cats' rebounding rates have been 46.5% and 67.2% on the offensive and defensive ends.
Based on this distribution, the analysis tips in favor of Kentucky by 10 points, 83-73 in a game played at a pace of 72 possessions for the Cats and 70 possessions for BOISE STATE. Pomeroy figures the Game in Kentucky's favor by 13 points, 88-75 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.
The Cats won the opening tip, scored first, and after playing most of the opening segment on even terms, a 3 pointer just prior to the media timeout lifted the Cats to a 3 point lead, 8-5 for only the second time this season at the first media timeout. The Broncos kept it close for most of the first half, trailing by only 5 points, 36-31 with 1:42 remaining. However, the Cats scored the final 5 points of the first half to establish a 10 point lead, 41-31 at the half.
UK scored its 41 points in a total of 36 possessions for the half, and BOISE STATE scored its 31 points on a total of 35 possessions. Kentucky won the battle of the boards in the first half, 23-12, and Kentucky grabbed 7 offensive rebounds while held the Broncos to only 4 offensive rebounds in the first half. Kentucky used its 7 second chance possessions to score 8 points while Boise State converted their 4 second chances into 6 second chance points. Boise State had an efficiency of 0.771 ppp for its 35 first chance possessions, and 1.500 ppp for its 4-second chance possessions. UK had 0.917 ppp on its 36 first chance possessions and 1.143 ppp on its 7-second chance possessions. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed 50.0% of its misses as offensive rebounds while BOISE STATE was able to convert 20.0% of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.
UK hit poorly from the free throw line in this half, making 3-7 [42.9%]. BOISE STATE was 0-0 [0.0%] for the half. Field goal shooting for UK was 17-31 overall [54.8%] and 4-13 from long range [30.8%]. For BOISE STATE, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was a strong 11-25 [44.0%] and from long range, BOISE STATE hit 3-9 [33.3%].
The Cats committed 9 turnovers in the first half, 1 for each 4.0 possessions BOISE STATE committed 5 turnovers in this first half, one for each 7.0 possessions.
The second half, much like the first half, was tightly contested for the first 7 minutes. With 12:51 to play, the Cats maintained an 11 point lead, 52-41 following a lawup basket by Andrew Harrison. During that 7 minutes, the lead ranged from a high of 14 points to a low of 7 points. Over the next 4 minutes, the Cats expanded their lead to a game high 19 points, 62-43, on a 10-2 run. The teams played out the last 9 minutes with the Cats closing the game with a 15 point win, 70-55.
UK scored its 70 points in a total of 68 possessions (1.029 ppp) for the game, and BOISE STATE scored its 55 points on a total of 66 possessions (0.833 ppp). Kentucky won the battle of the boards, with a rebounding edge 44-27, but the Broncos won the battle of the offensive glass 14-11 Kentucky used its 11 second chance possessions to score 13 second chance points, and BOISE STATE converted their 14 offensive rebounds into 16 second chance points. BOISE STATE had an offensive efficiency of 0.591 ppp on its 66 first chance possessions and 1.143 ppp for its 16 second chance possessions. UK had 0.838 ppp on its 68 first chance possessions and 1.182 ppp on its 11 second chance possessions. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed 45.8% of its misses as offensive rebounds while BOISE STATE was able to convert 29.8% of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.
UK hit poorly from the free throw line in this game, making 12-18 [66.7%]. BOISE STATE made 6-6 [100.0%] for the game. Field goal shooting for UK was 27-51 overall [52.9%] and 4-17 from long range [23.5%]. For BOISE STATE, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was a low 17-52 [32.7%] and from long range, BOISE STATE hit 5-17 [29.4%].
The Cats committed 19 turnovers, one for every 3.6 possessions. The Cats forced 8 BOISE STATE turnovers, one for every 8.2 possessions.
Next Game On Schedule: Saturday afternoon against North Carolina at the Dean Dome in Chapel Hill.
Submitted by Richard Cheeks
Submitted by Richard Cheeks