2013-14 Season Analytical Writings

Cats Go Back On The Road For Two-LSU Is First Up

When the Cats returned home after a stinging 2 point overtime loss to Arkansas they enjoyed the luxury of three consecutive home games for some self examination, introspective preparation, and consolidation of their team mindedness before they must return to the road again. That last venture away from Rupp left the Cats 1 game off the pace that the Florida Gators are setting on the strength of their 2 point overtime win against the same set of Hogs that handed the Cats the road L. Those events eliminated the Cats' margin for error moving forward through the SEC road schedule.

The Cats took care of business with the trifecta of home wins, but the Cats did not demonstrate any pattern of efficiency gains in the manner of the three wins. For sure, the overall performance in the third game against LSU seemed more unified with what Coach Calipari has been seeking, but LSU is LSU at the end of the day, and they played that game without their top two guards.

In games 10 through 19, the average variation from the model predictions has been +0.3 points, with a Standard Deviation of 4. This means to me that this team has been essentially performing at a level completely consistent with the NGE model, which of course is based on the team's performance levels this season. This year's performance levels this season have been lower than all fans had hoped, and lower than many fans had expected. The Pomeroy rating is currently 15th, which is equivalent to a 4 seed, e.g. a probable sweet 16 appearance and loss.

Since I believe that UK basketball success is measured by competing for the top prize, and UK only hangs banners for final four appearances, this team still has considerable work to do to play at a level consistent with those standards.

For me, the low point of this season was the loss to Baylor in game 9. As noted, the 10 game sequence since that low point has been consistent with the quality of play that produced the 6-3 start. Following that loss, many in the Big Blue Nation were rightfully wringing hands trying to understand how a pre-seasom #1 team could have squandered that late lead over Baylor and leave with a very disappointing loss. I tried to find a measure of solace from that moment, and I wrote about the need for a long term perspective for a basketball season with Coach Calipari's young teams.

I encourage your readers to take a few minutes and read that analysis, because it concludes by pointing out that Calipari's teams have not revealed their post season form the last 3 seasons until after game 20 (next game for this season is game 20). Those teams that finally get it after the first 20, will begin to surge in the final 1/3 of the regular season. Calipari has described this as a process, and while he and I use different terminology to describe the process, I believe we are pointing to the same process.

For me, I see it this way. In the first 1/3 of a season, these Calipari teams, and the coaching staff, are struggling to identify the individual player strengths and weaknesses. The Coaches are learning about their players, a process that is necessary when each new team consists of essentially all new players, because the coaches need to learn how the players perform individually and collectively. In the middle 1/3, the team (not individuals any longer) and the coaching staff work to define the identity of the team that can produce the strongest finish in March. This middle third of the season coincides with the semester break, which Coach Calipari uses effectively to intensify each teams' focus. In the final 1/3 of the season, the team has the responsibility to consolidate its gains (lessons) and put their unique stamp onto the Kentucky team they represent. In this phase, the Coaches roll shifts to encourager and mentor, rather than task master and teacher.

The time has arrived for this team to reveal its end of season identity. Over the next few games, I want to see a team that consistently outperforms the NGE model because if this team's destiny is a run at another championship, and the hanging of another banner, the NGE model must adjust upwards to reflect that new reality. However, if the team continues to perform at about the current model levels, as it has the last 10 games, then we have seen this team's best, and which will be a sweet 16 performer that runs the risk of not making it out of the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament.

This critical period starts Tuesday, at LSU, will continue through next weekend's trip to Missouri, and will continue through the end of the regular season at Florida for the SEC regular season championship. The time has arrived for this team to reveal how it will write its final chapters.

LSU will put their 12-6, 3-3 record on the line when the Cats appear at the Maravich Center Tuesday night. The Tigers completed their non-conference season 9-3, with losses away from Baton Rouge to #31 UMass by 2, to #32 Memphis by 7, and at home to #116 Rhode Island by 4. LSU's best non-conference wins have been by 17 over #86 Saint Joseph's and by 2 at #88 Texas Tech. Once the SEC started however, the Tigers have stumbled to a 3-3 record at the SEC's official 1/3 point. Road losses at Ole Miss by 14 in OT and at Bama by 2 balance home wins over Vandy by 23 and Missouri by 6. However, the road win over #140 South Carolina by 3 hardly compensates for their home loss to Tennessee by 18. LSU's schedule strength has been 0.5591 (#101 st ).

LSU has averaged 73 possessions per game, scoring 76.1 ppg (1.042 ppp) and allowing 69.0 ppg (0.950 ppp). LSU has turned the ball over on 20.1% of its possessions while forcing turnovers on 19.5% of opponent possessions. On the Boards, LSU has secured an offensive rebounding rate of 38.0% about 7% above the 31% NCAA average, and a defensive rebounding rate of 67.6%, about 3% below the NCAA average.

In contrast, the Cats have averaged about 69 to 70 possessions per game, producing 79.6 ppg (1.144 ppp) and allowing 65.5 ppg (0.946 ppp). The Cats have committed turnovers on 18.1% of its possessions and forced turnovers on 16.6% of opponent possessions. On the Boards, the Cats' rebounding rates have been 44.1% and 69.5% on the offensive and defensive ends against a schedule strength of .6134 (#49).

Based on this distribution, the analysis tips in favor of KENTUCKY by 3 points, 74-71 in a game played at a pace of 71 possessions for the Cats and 71 possessions for LSU. Pomeroy figures the Game in Kentucky's favor by 4 points, 76-72 at a pace of 71 possessions.

See how other Big Blue Fans see this game's likely oLSUcome by clicking the following link.

You can enter your prediction at any time prior to tip off by visiting the 247 Sports prediction thread for this game at:

Game Summary:

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.

LSU controlled the opening tip and immediately drew first blood on their way to an early 7-2 lead, prompting an early timeout by Coach Calipari. Out of the timeout, the Cats commit their second turnover and then it was 10-2. Another UK turnover, and it is 12-2. The Cats end the opening segment with 5 turnovers on 9 total possessions, and down 10, 14-4 at the under 16 media timeout, and LSU in possession. LSU hit their first 5 shots, and 6 for 9 in the opening segment, compared to 2-6 shooting for the Cats. In the second segment, LSU continued their opening assault of the Cats, going up by 16, 22-6 with 13:26 remaining in the first half. Over the balance of the second segment, Young puts the team on his back offensively, and the Cats trim the LSU lead to 10, 25-15, prompting an LSU timeout with 10:30 to play. In the abbreviated 3 rd segment, the Cats continue to claw back into contention, cutting the lead to 6 points, 25-19 at the under 8 media timeout. In the fourth segment, the Cats managed to trim the lead to 2 points, 29-27, but they could not get any closer, as LSU responded to reestablish a 5 point lead, 36-31 at the under 4 media timeout with 3:00 to play in the first half.

In the final segment, LSU moves back on top by 9 points, 41-32, but the Cats score 5 of the last 6 points to trim the lead to 6 points, 42-36, at the half.

UK scored its 36 points in a total of 37 possessions for the half, and LSU scored its 42 points on a total of 37 possessions. Kentucky won the battle of the boards in the first half, 24-16, and Kentucky won the battle of the offensive glass 11-4. Kentucky converted its 11 second chance possessions to score 5 second chance points, and LSU used its 4 second chance possessions to score 0 second chance points. LSU had an efficiency of 1.167 ppp for its 36 first chance possessions, and 0.000 ppp for its 4-second chance possessions. UK had 0.816 ppp on its 38 first chance possessions and 0.455 ppp on its 11 second chance possession. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed 47.3% of its misses as offensive rebounds while LSU was able to convert 23.5% of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.

UK hit poorly from the free throw line in this half, making 4-6 [66.7%]. LSU was 5-6 [83.3%] for the half. Field goal shooting for UK was 15-36 overall [41.7%] and 2-7 from long range [28.6%]. For LSU, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was a strong 11-19 [57.9%] and from long range, LSU hit 5-13 [38.5%].

The Cats committed 11 turnovers in the first half, 1 for each 3.5 possessions LSU committed 5 turnovers in this first half, one for each 7.2 possessions.

Second Half

LSU opens the second half just like they started the game, hitting their first 2 shots, with the Cats drawing a blank, forcing Coach Calipari to take a quick timeout after the LSU lead quickly shoots up to 10 points, 46-36. The timeout did not have much positive impact on the Cats, as LSU owned the glass at both ends and leads by 11, 54-43 at the under 16 timeout, called in this case by Coach Calipari. In the second segment, LSU expanded their lead to 14 points, 62-48, on back to back 3 pointers. The Cats trimmed a pair off that lead at the under 12 media timeout, 62-50. LSU continue their dominance, expanding their second half lead to 15, 68-53, before the Cats manage to score 5 straight to trim the lead back to 10 points, prompting a LSU timeout with 8:32 to play and LSU leading 68-58. LSU scored and will shoot the “and 1” after the under 8 media timeout holding a 12 point lead, 72-60.

Through the first 32 minutes, LSU has scored its 72 points on just 62 possessions, 1.161 ppp while the Cats have managed 60 points on 60 possessions. At the end of the 4 th segment, LSU continues to control the game on the boards and with a 10 point lead, 78-68 at the under 4 media timeout with 3:12 to play. The Cats cut into the lead in the final 90 seconds and lose by 5, 87-82.


UK scored its 82 points in a total of 76 possessions (1.079 ppp) for the game, and LSU scored its 87 points on a total of 76 possessions (1.145 ppp). Kentucky won the battle of the boards, with a rebounding edge 42-37, and the Cats won the battle of the offensive glass 15-10. Kentucky used its 15 second chance possessions to score 16 second chance points, and LSU converted their 10 offensive rebounds into 7 second chance points. LSU had an offensive efficiency of 1.053 ppp on its 76 first chance possessions and 0.700 ppp for its 10 second chance possessions. UK had 0.868 ppp on its 76 first chance possessions and 1.067 ppp on its 15 second chance possessions. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed 35.7% of its misses as offensive rebounds while LSU was able to convert 27.0%, of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.

UK hit well from the free throw line in this game, making 9-13 [69.2%]. LSU made 16-26 [61.5%] for the game. Field goal shooting for UK was 32-73 overall [43.8%] and 9-20 from long range [45.0%]. For LSU, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was a strong 25-45 [55.6%] and from long range, LSU hit 7-18 [38.9%].

The Cats committed 13 turnovers, one for every 5.8 possessions. The Cats forced 11 LSU turnovers, one for every 6.9 possessions.

Next Game On Schedule: Saturday afternoon against Missouri at Columbia.

Submitted by Richard Cheeks


Submitted by Richard Cheeks


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