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2013-14 Season Analytical Writings
December 14, 2013, the Cats ventured into enemy territory for the first and only time in 2013 portion of this season's schedule. Finals week ends on Friday, December 20, and until classes resume for the Spring Semester on January 15, 2014, these young Cats will have only one subject on their minds, learning to play college basketball the Calipari way. Some have called this period of the year, Camp Calipari, and appropriately so. No classes, no exams, very few games (December 21, December 28, January 8, January 11, and January 14), and unlimited practice/team building time.
If this assemblage of raw, youthful talent can be molded into a cohesive college basketball team, the evidence of that process succeeding should be apparent to all as these Cats pass through this series of five games over 4 weeks. Evidence of this evolution should appear in box scores, and a pattern of exceeding pre-game projections routinely. For example, in the first eleven games, this team has underperformed pre-game estimates on the defensive end in 7 games, and on the offensive end in 6 games. When this 5 game sequence ends, the season will be ½ completed, and the over performance totals should exceed the underperformance totals for the first 16 games, e.g. 9 or more over performances compared to 4 defensive and 5 offensive through 11 games. That would require over performance defensively in all 5 of the next 5 and 4 of the next five offensively.
Yes, it is an ambitious mark, but it is a standard that I will be tracking. To set the record on this goal, the current projections for the next 5 games include a 4-1 record with margins of 18, 2, 15, 7 and -4 at Arkansas on January 14. The progress, measured according to this criteria, will be monitored in these writings over the next 3+ weeks.
Belmont is the first challenger in this sequence of games. Belmont has been something of an enigma. The waltzed out of Chapel Hill, North Carolina on November 17 with a 3 point upset win over the #10 Tar Heels yet dropped an 8 point decision to #60 Richmond, and have lost 3 of their last 4 games to #40 VCU by 13, at #194 South Dakota State by 13, and Tuesday night at #106 Denver by 28 points. Therefore, the Bruins will enter Rupp Arena on Saturday with a record of 7 wins against 4 losses against D1 opposition with a Pomeroy rating of #99 based on a scheduled strength of 0.6445 (#53). The Belmont Bruins have played three D1 games at home, winning 2, two games on neutral courts, winning both, and six games on the road, winning 3 times, including the aforementioned North Carolina win.
BELMONT has averaged about 72 possessions per game, producing 78.1 ppg (1.09 ppp) and allowing 77.3 ppg (1.07 ppp). BELMONT has turned the ball over on 20.1% of its possessions while forcing turnovers on 20.2% of opponent possessions. On the Boards, BELMONT has secured an offensive rebounding rate of 28.1% about 4% below the 32% NCAA average, and a defensive rebounding rate of 67.4%, a fraction under the NCAA average.
In contrast, the Cats have averaged about 69 to 70 possessions per game, producing 80.5 ppg (1.15 ppp) and allowing 65.1 ppg (0.94 ppp) against a schedule strength of 0..5664 (119 th ). The Cats have committed turnovers on 19.3% of its possessions and forced turnovers on 15.6% of opponent possessions. On the Boards, the Cats' rebounding rates have been 46.2% and 67.6% on the offensive and defensive ends.
Based on this distribution, the analysis tips in favor of KENTUCKY by 18 points, 84-66 in a game played at a pace of 71 possessions for the Cats and 71 possessions for BELMONT. Pomeroy figures the Game in KENTUCKY'S favor by 16 points, 88-72 at a pace of 72 possessions.
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Coach Calipari continues to start Willie Cauley-Stein with the our freshmen Randle, Young, and the Harrison Twins. Poythress, Hawkins, and Johnson will be first off the bench. Lee has returned from a one game illness, and Jon Hood has returned to practice following his head injury that kept him sidelined for the last several games.
The Cats win the opening tip, but fail to draw blood. After Belmont drains their first two 3 pointers, the Cats find themselves down 6-2 in the early going, and 10-6 at the under 16 media timeout. As has been the case in the majority of games this season, the Cats trail at the first media timeout again today. After the timeout, Young makes a jump shot from the free throw line extended, and following a strong defensive stop, Young gets to the line for a pair to tie the score 10-10. However, after another Belmont miss, a Young turnover produced a Belmont runout. The Cats missed another opportunity, but following Belmont's 3 point miss, Andrew Harrison takes the ball to the rim, is fouled. He missed his free throw opportunity, but his basket pulled the Cats even 12-12 at the under 12 media timeout.
After the timeout, Andrew Harrison commits two quick fouls and goes to the bench with over 11 minutes remaining, and Belmont makes another pair of 3 pointers to run out to their biggest lead of the game, 18-12, forcing Coach Calipari to take a timeout with 10:40 to play. Randle stops the Belmont run at 6 points with a second chance basket, but Belmont drains their third consecutive 3 pointer, followed by back to back fast break baskets to move on top by 11 points, 25-14, forcing a second UK timeout with 8:59 to play in the first half.
After this timeout, Coach Calipari inserts Polson. Randle gets loose inside for a basket, and a chance for a three point play. He missed, his second in two tries, and for the team, they have made only 2 of 5 attempts. Polson hits the Cats first 3 pointer of the game to pull to within 8 points, 27-19 at the under 8 media timeout.
Through 12 minutes, this is one of the worst Kentucky performances of this season, and it is not what this team needs to set its course to better times. Belmont has scored their 27 points on only 20 possessions, while the Cats have only managed 19 points on 21 possessions, just the opposite. In the fourth segment, the Cats managed to trim the lead to 5 points, 35-30, but Belmont scored, and the Cats committed another turnover to go to the under 4 media timeout with Belmont in possession and holding a 7 point lead. On one possession, no Kentucky player moved to get a rebound that bounced in the lane, and when Belmont recovered the Ball, it resulted in a 3 pointer, their 7 th of this game.
In the final segment, the Cats claw their way to a 41-41 tie with 24 seconds remaining. Belmont takes a timeout to get the shooters it wants for this final possession of the first half. Willie Cauley-Stein commits a foul for the second game in a row with 1.6 seconds left in the half, and Belmont converts to take a 2 point lead to the locker room, 43-41.
UK scored its 41 points in a total of 35 possessions for the half, and BELMONT scored its 43 points on a total of 35 possessions. Kentucky won the battle of the boards in the first half, 20-19, and Kentucky grabbed 7 offensive rebounds while held the Bruins to only 5 offensive rebounds in the first half. Kentucky used its 7 second chance possessions to score 9 points while BELMONT converted their 7 second chances into 5 second chance points. BELMONT had an efficiency of 1.029 ppp for its 35 first chance possessions, and 1.400 ppp for its 5-second chance possessions. UK had 0.914 ppp on its 35 first chance possessions and 1.286 ppp on its 7-second chance possessions. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed 33.3% of its misses as offensive rebounds while BELMONT was able to convert 27.8% of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.
UK hit poorly from the free throw line in this half, making 7-12 [58.3%]. BELMONT was 2-2 [100.0%] for the half. Field goal shooting for UK was 16-33 overall [48.5%] and 2-10 from long range [20.0%]. For BELMONT, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was a strong 10-18 [55.6%] and from long range, BELMONT hit 7-18 [38.9%].
The Cats committed 4 turnovers in the first half, 1 for each 8.8 possessions BELMONT committed 3 turnovers in this first half, one for each 11.7 possessions.
In the opening possession of the second half, Belmont uses 30 seconds to draw a foul near the rim. After missing the first, he made the second. At the Kentucky end, Aaron Harrison missed at the rim, but stole the ball back, and Andrew converted to cut the lead to one point 44-43. On the next possession, Belmont misses, and Randle makes 1 of 2 free throws to tie the score at 44-44. The Cats trade baskets until the end of the segment, when a pair of free throws by Randle, a second chance basket by Hawkins, and after a block by Willie Cauley-Stein, a driving layup by Aaron Harrison give the Cats the first lead, 50-48 at the under 16 media timeout. In that first segment, Andrew Harrison committed his third foul, on his second charging call of the game, and he retreats to the bench, and Hawkins.
Out of the timeout, Aaron Harrison lifts the Cats to a 4 point advantage, their largest of the game. In the second segment, the Cats extend the lead to 5 points, 59-54 at the under 12 media timeout. Andrew Harrison returned to the game, but quickly commits his 4 th foul, returning to the bench. Aaron Harrison drains a 3 pointer to give the Cats their biggest lead, 8 points, 62-54, but Belmont answered with their first 3 pointer of the second half, and their 8 th of the game. The Cats add a point to their lead, 7 points, 70-63 at the under 8 media timeout with 7:13 to play. A three point play by Randle followed by a drive by Andrew Harrision lifted the Cats to their biggest lead, 10 points, 75-65, prompting a Belmont timeout with 5:56 to play in the game. In the fourth segment the Cats extend their lead to 11 point, 79-68 at the under 4 media timeout.
The finish the job and claim a 13 point win, 93-80.
UK scored its 93 points in a total of 68 possessions (1.368 ppp) for the game, and BELMONT scored its 80 points on a total of 71 possessions (1.127 ppp). Kentucky won the battle of the boards, with a rebounding edge 42-20, and the Cats won the battle of the offensive glass 13-6 Kentucky used its 13 second chance possessions to score 17 second chance points, and BELMONT converted their 6 offensive rebounds into 10 second chance points. BELMONT had an offensive efficiency of 0.986 ppp on its 71 first chance possessions and 1.667 ppp for its 6 second chance possessions. UK had 1.118ppp on its 69 first chance possessions and 1.308 ppp on its 13 second chance possessions. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed 48.1% of its misses as offensive rebounds while BELMONT was able to convert 17.1% of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.
UK hit well from the free throw line in this game, making 26-36 [72.2%]. BELMONT made 9-13 [69.2%] for the game. Field goal shooting for UK was 32-58 overall [55.2%] and 3-14 from long range [21.4%]. For BELMONT, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was a low 19-34 [55.9%] and from long range, BELMONT hit 11-30 [36.7%].
The Cats committed 7 turnovers, one for every 9.7 possessions. The Cats forced 7 BELMONT turnovers, one for every 10.1 possessions.
Next Game On Schedule: Saturday afternoon against Louisville at Rupp Arena.
Submitted by Richard Cheeks
Submitted by Richard Cheeks