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2013-14 Season Analytical Writings
When the Cats returned home from a disappointing overtime loss at Arkansas, they faced a three game home stand that could provide yet another opportunity to close ranks within the team, shore up their weak areas of play, and revitalize their commitment to the type of play that Coach Calipari has been urging, but not finding evident on the court. The Cats have dispatched Tennessee by 8 points and the Dawgs by 17. The last opportunity to accomplish their important goals from this home stand occurs Saturday afternoon when the Georgia Bulldogs make their appearance in Rupp Arena.
To some, an 8 point win over the Volunteers, and a 17 point win over an SEC opponent, should be evidence of growth and improvement by this Kentucky team. However, this observer does not find the cause for great rejoicing in either of those margins given the performance levels of each of these opponents this season, and the expectation level for this UK team. Each season, the 14 members of the SEC play through their respective non-conference schedules, and from that record, their relative a performance levels provide a basis for an SEC season forecast. Most years, the relative strengths of these 14 teams remain about the same at the end of the SEC season as they were at the beginning. However, that is not universally true, and each year 2 or 3 teams experience a decline in their quality of play once SEC games begin, and 2 or 3 teams experience a surge in their play.
Through the first 5 games of the SEC season, I had hoped to see the Cats among the few surging teams because of the gap between the expectations for this team and the level of play actually achieved through the non-conference schedule. There was some basis for this hope because this UK team is the youngest team in Division I basketball, with almost 75% of all minutes going to the freshmen on the team. However, the play does not reveal proof of that hope, and the Cats stand relative to the SEC field at about the same position as they started in early January. However, there are 3 teams that are surging above their pre-SEC expectation levels, and the next opponent, Georgia, is one of those that have been getting it done on the court at levels far exceeding their pre-SEC performance levels.
Georgia comes to Rupp Arena 10-7 overall, but 4-1 since SEC play began. During the non-conference schedule, the Bulldogs finished 6-6 after a less than impressive 1-4 start. Their November play included losses to #137 Georgia Tech by 9, To #182 Davidson by 12, To #157 Temple by 2, and to #82 Nebraska by 8. In December, the Dogs lost at #53 Colorado by 14 and at #37 George Washington by 18. During the non-conference, Georgia's most impressive win was over #237 Lipscomb by 9, who was the highest rated team that the Dawgs had defeated prior to SEC play. Once the SEC started however, the Dawgs wiped the slate clean, at started with a 6 point overtime win at #54 Missouri by 6, and followed that with 3 home wins over #88 Alabama by 8, #42 Arkansas by 5 in OT, and #146 South Carolina by 21. Georgia's only conference loss has been at #17 Florida by 22 on the same night that the Cats last lost at Arkansas. Georgia's schedule strength has been 0.5033 (#178 th ).
GEORGIA has averaged 68 possessions per game, scoring 71.2 ppg (1.048 ppp) and allowing 68.6 ppg (1.015 ppp). GEORGIA has turned the ball over on 19.4% of its possessions while forcing turnovers on 16.3% of opponent possessions. On the Boards, GEORGIA has secured an offensive rebounding rate of 36.2% about 4% above the 32% NCAA average, and a defensive rebounding rate of 70.4%, about 2% above the NCAA average.
In contrast, the Cats have averaged about 69 to 70 possessions per game, producing 79.7 ppg (1.142 ppp) and allowing 66.2 ppg (0.952 ppp). The Cats have committed turnovers on 18.2% of its possessions and forced turnovers on 15.9% of opponent possessions. On the Boards, the Cats' rebounding rates have been 44.4% and 69.3% on the offensive and defensive ends against a schedule strength of .6267 (#30).
Based on this distribution, the analysis tips in favor of KENTUCKY by 21 points, 82-61 in a game played at a pace of 69 possessions for the Cats and 69 possessions for GEORGIA. Pomeroy figures the Game in Kentucky's favor by 16 points, 79-63 at a pace of 66 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, Polson, and Johnson will probably see action off the bench.
Last night, Jarrod Polson was honored at home when his high school retired his high school basketball jersey. His UK coaches and teammates attended the ceremony in a show of unity and support, and a public recognition of Jarrod's contributions to the UK program during his 4 year tenure that began as a walkon, and has been rewarded with athletic scholarships, two final four appearances, and one NCAA Championship ring. Jarrod is a credit to his high school, his community, his state, and the UK Basketball program.
Georgia controls the opening tap, but following a turnover, the Cats draw first blood, and then lead again by 2 points at 4-2 before the Dawgs score 5 straight to take a 7-4 lead. The Cats trimmed the Georgia lead to a single point, 7-6, at the under 16 media timeout. Near the end of the segment, Coach Calipari inserted Johnson and Alex Poythress into the lineup for Willie Cauley-Stein and Young. At the timeout, Hawkins replaced Aaron Harrison. After the timeout, the Cats commit their 4 th and 5 th turnovers of the game on their first 2 possessions, and Georgia moves back on top by 2. Polson enters the game next. The Cats score the last 6 points of the segment to move on top by 4 points, 12-8 at the under 12 media timeout.
In the third segment, the Cats used 3-3 three point shooting, one after an offensive rebound, to race out to a 23-10 lead, forcing a Georgia timeout. The Cats are now 3-4 from outside of the arc, which will open up the inside, and perhaps force Georgia out of their zone. After the timeout, Georgia commits 2 turnovers, and the Cats miss their only shot, leaving the score 23-10 at the under 8 media timeout with 7:17 to play in the first half. Willis, a seldom used Freshman on the Kentucky bench entered the game during the media timeout.
In the short 4 th segment, the Cats added 4 more points to their margin, now 16 points, 29-13 at the under 4 media timeout. At the half, the Cats manage a 12 point lead, 34-22.
UK scored its 34 points in a total of 30 possessions for the half, and GEORGIA scored its 22 points on a total of 30 possessions. Georgia won the battle of the boards in the first half, 17-14, and Georgia won the battle of the offensive glass 5-9. Kentucky converted its 5 second chance possessions to score 7 second chance points, and Georgia used its 9 second chance possessions to score 8 second chance points. GEORGIA had an efficiency of 0.467 ppp for its 30 first chance possessions, and 0.888 ppp for its 9-second chance possessions. UK had 0.900 ppp on its 30 first chance possessions and 1.400 ppp on its 5-second chance possession. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed 38.5% of its misses as offensive rebounds while GEORGIA was able to convert 50.0% of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.
UK hit well from the free throw line in this half, making 7-8 [87.5%]. GEORGIA was 6-9 [66.7%] for the half. Field goal shooting for UK was 12-25 overall [48.0%] and 3-8 from long range [37.5%]. For GEORGIA, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was a weak 5-20 [25.0%] and from long range, GEORGIA hit 2-4 [50.0%].
The Cats committed 6 turnovers in the first half, 1 for each 5.0 possessions GEORGIA committed 10 turnovers in this first half, one for each 3.0 possessions.
On the first possession of the second half, the Cats go inside to Willie Cauley-Stein who scores, but Georgia answers with back to back baskets to trim the lead to 10 points, 36-26, prompting Coach Calipari to take a quick timeout. After the timeout, Georgia continues to chip away the Kentucky lead, cutting it to 6 points, 37-31 with 16:19 to play. The Cats stop the Dawg's run with an Aaron Harrison basket to lead by 8, 39-31, at the under 16 media timeout. Georgia will have possession when play resumes.
After the media timeout, the Cats score 5 more without a Georgia answer to move on top by 13 points, forcing another Georgia timeout with 13:28 to play in the game and the Cats on top 44-31. The team complete the second segment with the Cats up by 13 points, 49-36 at the under 12 media timeout with 11:20 remaining on the clock. In the third segment, the Cats extend their lead to the largest of the day, 17 points, 56-39, prompting another Georgia timeout with 8:50 to play. However, the Cats added two more points to the lead prior to the under 8 media timeout, and Alex Poythress will be shooting a pair of free throws when play resumes, with a chance to give the Cats their first 20 point lead of the game if he can make one or both of his tries. In the fourth segment, the Cats play with a lead in the 20 to 24 point range, and manage to hold a 21 point lead, 66-45 at the under 4 media timeout, with Julius Randle set for a pair of free throws after the timeout.
The Cats close strong to win by 25 points, 79-54.
UK scored its 79 points in a total of 66 possessions (1.197 ppp) for the game, and GEORGIA scored its 54 points on a total of 66 possessions (0.818 ppp).Georgia won the battle of the boards, with a rebounding edge 35-32, and the Dawgs won the battle of the offensive glass 17-12. Kentucky used its 12 second chance possessions to score 12 second chance points, and GEORGIA converted their 17 offensive rebounds into 18 second chance points. GEORGIA had an offensive efficiency of 0.545 ppp on its 66 first chance possessions and 1.058 ppp for its 17 second chance possessions. UK had 1.015 ppp on its 66 first chance possessions and 1.000 ppp on its 12 second chance possessions. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed 40.0% of its misses as offensive rebounds while GEORGIA was able to convert 45.9%, a season high for UK opponents, of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.
UK hit well from the free throw line in this game, making 16-20 [80.0%]. GEORGIA made 18-28 [64.3%] for the game. Field goal shooting for UK was 29-58 overall [50.0%] and 5-12 from long range [41.7%]. For GEORGIA, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was a poor 12-41 [29.3%] and from long range, GEORGIA hit 4-8 [50.0%].
The Cats committed 11 turnovers, one for every 6.0 possessions. The Cats forced 20 GEORGIA turnovers, one for every 3.3 possessions.
Next Game On Schedule: Tuesday night against LSU at Baton Rouge.
Submitted by Richard Cheeks
Submitted by Richard Cheeks