BIG BLUE FANS FOR
2013-14 Season Analytical Writings
Can it really be time for another installment of the Cats and Cards? In October, this game figured to feature the #1 team in America, and in my opinion, it will. However, the entire Big Blue Nation believed that role would be filled by their beloved Wildcats and that was the consensus of the nation in October when the polls featured UK as their pre-season #1 team. However, reality can be cruel, and the Cats do not enter this game as #1 on anyone's serious list, but the despised Louisville Cardinals stand on December 27, 2013 as the #1 most efficient team in the country.
Being the #1 most efficient team is a significant accomplishment at any time of a season, but it never more important than the end. Louisville ended the 2013 season holding that spot, and won a championship. Kentucky ended the 2012 season holding that spot, and won a championship. In fact, the #1 most efficient team has won 7 of the last 11 NCAA championships, and the #2 most efficient team won 2 of the remaining 4 NCAA championships in that same 11 year span.
These names represent the very best that College basketball has provided the nation over the last several years, and when these teams meet, the outcome is never certain prior to the game. This year is no different as the Vegas boys opened the betting line for Saturday's game as a “pick ‘em” game. While the betting has shifted the line a couple of points in the Louisville direction, the Vegas boys know that there is no way to predict who will prevail when these teams do combat.
This year's installment in this rivalry to rival all college rivalries will be played on Saturday afternoon at Rupp Arena. The game will feature a contrast of styles and philosophies. The Cardinals rely upon the defensive prowess, and offensive quickness of its perimeter players, Russ Smith chief among them. The Cats rely upon a game in the paint, fought and usually won on the boards, led in large measure by Willie Cauley-Stein and Julius Randle. Outside v Inside.
Philosophically, the Cards are traversed a path with 9 of 12 games at home, two neutral, and one true road game against an array of opponents that yield a 12 game schedule strength of 0.3538, good enough to rank as the 328 th most difficult schedule out of 351 teams. The Cats path to this game, through 12 games, saw 8 games at home (the Louisville game will be the Cats' 9 th home game of the non-conference), three neutral court games, and one road game. The Cats' 12 game schedule strength is .5677, good enough to rank as the 116 th most difficult schedule. The Cats and Cards do have one common opponent in their first twelve games as each team lost to the North Carolina Tar Heels, the Cards on a neutral court by 9 points, and the Cats in the Dean Dome by 5 points. The Cards have ridden their schedule to an 11-1 record, while the Cats have posted an 9-3 mark as these teams plan to assemble at Rupp Arena for the 2013 edition of the “Dream Game.”
Through the first 12 games, Louisville's most impressive wins have been by 31 over #77 Southern Mississippi, and by 39 points over #102 Louisiana Lafayette, both at the YUM center. Through the first 12 games, Kentucky's most impressive wins have been over #98 Belmont by 13 at Rupp, over #54 Boise State by 15 at Rupp, and over #71 Providence on a neutral court by 14 points.
LOUISVILLE has averaged 60.0 ppg (0.85 ppp). LOUISVILLE has turned the ball over on 13.2% of its possessions while forcing turnovers on 26.4% of opponent possessions. On the Boards, LOUISVILLE has secured an offensive rebounding rate of 42.3% about 10% above the 32% NCAA average, and a defensive rebounding rate of 68.5%, a fraction over the NCAA average.
In contrast, the Cats have averaged about 69 to 70 possessions per game, producing 81.5 ppg (1.16 ppp) and allowing 66.3 ppg (0.96 ppp). The Cats have committed turnovers on 18.6% of its possessions and forced turnovers on 15.1% of opponent possessions. On the Boards, the Cats' rebounding rates have been 45.8% and 68.7% on the offensive and defensive ends.
Based on this distribution, the analysis tips in favor of KENTUCKY by 1 point, 74-73 in a game played at a pace of 70 possessions for the Cats and 69 possessions for LOUISVILLE. Pomeroy figures the Game in LOUISVILLE'S favor by 1 points, 76-77 at a pace of 70 possessions.
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Coach Calipari continues to start Willie Cauley-Stein with the four freshmen Randle, Young, and the Harrison Twins. Poythress, Hawkins, Lee, 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.
Kentucky controls the opening tip, but after two dry trips with a Louisville turnover in between, the Cards hit a 3 pointer, steal the ball for a basket, and hit another 3 pointer,to move out to an 8-0 early lead. Julius Randle responded with the Cats first five points to pull back to within 3 points, but Russ Smith broke the Kentucky press and got a layup to bring the first segment's scoring to a close, with the Cards on top 10-5 at the under 16 media timeout. Randle picked up his first foul in the segment, and during the timeout, the Kentucky coaches pled with Randle to avoid picking up a second foul.
On the first possession, the Cats break the press and Alex Poythress makes a basket. Following a Louisville missed, Andrew Harrison hits a 15 foot jump shot to pull the Cats to within a single point. Following a Louisville turnover, Andrew Harrison gets to the rim for a basket plus one to give the Cats their first lead, 12-10. Poythress commits his second quick foul and returns to the bench. The teams trade baskets over the remainder of the segment, and the Cats cling to a 2 point lead, 14-12 at the under 12 media timeout, and Louisville will be shooting a pair of free throws when play resumes.
Louisville made both free throws, and after a UK miss, scored again to regain the lead, but James Young made a pair of 3 pointers, and 2 of 3 free throws after being fouled taking a 3 pointer, and the Cats moved on top by 5 points, 26-21 at the under 8 media timeout. Louisville will have the possession after the timeout. In the fourth segment, the Cats extend their lead to 7 points, 32-25 with 4:56 to play in the first half after Andrew Harrison makes it to the rim on a drive, steals the inbounds pass, and the Cats score again. After the timeout, the Cats convert another Louisville turnover into a basket after an offensive rebound to go on top by 9 points, but Louisville answered with 5 points to trim the lead to 4 points, 34-30, prompting a Kentucky timeout with 3:03 to play in the first half. After the timeout, Young makes a basket as he was fouled in the lane, and he will have a free throw to try to complete a 3 point play after the under 4 media timeout.
The teams finish the first half with the Cats on top by 5 points, 41-36.
UK scored its 41 points in a total of 37 possessions for the half, and LOUISVILLE scored its 36 points on a total of 37 possessions. Kentucky won the battle of the boards in the first half, 25-14, and Kentucky grabbed 11 offensive rebounds while held the Cardinals to only 2 offensive rebounds in the first half. Kentucky used its 11 second chance possessions to score 12 points while LOUISVILLE converted their 2 second chances into 0 second chance points. LOUISVILLE had an efficiency of 0.973 ppp for its 37 first chance possessions, and 0.000 ppp for its 2-second chance possessions. UK had 0.784 ppp on its 37 first chance possessions and 1.091 ppp on its 11-second chance possessions. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed 47.8% of its misses as offensive rebounds while LOUISVILLE was able to convert 12.5% of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.
UK hit poorly from the free throw line in this half, making 9-16 [56.3%]. LOUISVILLE was 4-5 [80.0%] for the half. Field goal shooting for UK was 15-34 overall [44/1%] and 2-9 from long range [22.2%]. For LOUISVILLE, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was a strong 10-16 [62.5%] and from long range, LOUISVILLE hit 4-14 [28.6%].
The Cats committed 7 turnovers in the first half, 1 for each 5.3 possessions LOUISVILLE committed 6 turnovers in this first half, one for each 6.2 possessions.
The Cats open play in the second half, Aaron Harrison makes a 15 foot jump shot, his first points of the game, but Smith answers with a 3 point play, and following a Kentucky miss, Louisville gets its first second chance points of the game to cut the lead to 2 points, 43-41, prompting a quick timeout by Coach Calipari. After the timeout, the Cats have another empty possession, and Smith breaks freeon a runout to tie the score at 43-43. At the under 16 media timeout, the Cats have the ball and are clinging to a 2 point lead, 47-45. However, the Cards capitalize on a Kentucky turnover to tie the score, 51-51 at the under 12 media timeout, and Jones will have a free throw to complete the 3 point play after the timeout.
In the third segment, without Julius Randle who is sidelined with leg cramps, the Cats eased back on top by 4 points, 57-53, at the under 8 media timeout with 7:42 to play, and Andrew Harrison will have a free throw to complete the 3 point play after the timeout. After the timeout, Harrison made the free throw, and then following a Louisville turnover, Andrew scored on a fast break to lift the Cats up by 7 points, 60-53, forcing Pitino to take a timeout with 7:07 to play in the game. After the timeout, the Cats extended its lead to 10 points on a runout basket by Aaron Harrison, forcing another Louisville timeout and the Cats up 66-56 with 5:07 to play in the game. The margin remains 10 points, 68-58, at the under 4 media timeout with 3:42 to play, and Louisville set to shoot a pair of free throws when play resumes.
In the final segment, the Cards convert 3 of 4 free throws around a Kentucky miss from 3 point range to trim the lead to 7, 68-61, and on the ensuing inbounds, Aaron Harrison calls a timeout because Louisville's press makes prevents an inbounds pass. Andrew Harrison made 1 of 2 free throws, and Smith missed both attempts which set the stage for a dish to Alex Poythress at the end of the shot clock to extend their lead back to 10 points, 71-61 with 1:40 to play. Willie Cauley-Stein commits his fourth foul, sending Blackshear to the line where he makes 1 of 2, and then off a Kentucky turnover, the Cards trim the lead to 7 points, 71-64 and spend their last timeout to stop the clock with 57 seconds to play. The Cats limp to the finish line, making only 3 of 8 free throws in the final segment, and 5-12 in the final 8 minutes to capture a 7 point win, 73-66.
UK scored its 73 points in a total of 70 possessions (1.043 ppp) for the game, and LOUISVILLE scored its 66 points on a total of 69 possessions (0.957 ppp). Kentucky won the battle of the boards, with a rebounding edge 44-36, and the Cats won the battle of the offensive glass 17-12 Kentucky used its 17 second chance possessions to score 17 second chance points, and LOUISVILLE converted their 12 offensive rebounds into 5 second chance points. LOUISVILLE had an offensive efficiency of 0.884 ppp on its 69 first chance possessions and 0.417 ppp for its 12 second chance possessions. UK had 0.800 ppp on its 70 first chance possessions and 1.000 ppp on its 17 second chance possessions. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed 41.5% of its misses as offensive rebounds while LOUISVILLE was able to convert 31.6% of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.
UK hit poorly from the free throw line in this game, making 16-30 [53.3%]. LOUISVILLE made 14-22 [63.8%] for the game. Field goal shooting for UK was 27-62 overall [43.5%] and 3-14 from long range [21.4%]. For LOUISVILLE, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was a high 17-32 [53.1%] and from long range, LOUISVILLE hit 6-26 [23.1%].
The Cats committed 11 turnovers, one for every 6.4 possessions. The Cats forced 13 LOUISVILLE turnovers, one for every 5.3 possessions.
Next Game On Schedule: Wednesday night against Mississippi State at Rupp Arena.
Submitted by Richard Cheeks
Submitted by Richard Cheeks