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2013-14 Season Analytical Writings
When I was young, there was a television show called TW3, “That Was The Week That Was” and each Wednesday, the program took a satirical look at the major public events of the prior week. For the 2013-14 Kentucky Wildcats, the week of January 27 through February 1, 2014 will be the week that was for this entire season. Prior to the week, every Blue Blooded member of the Big Blue Nation knew that the two road games, first to LSU and then to Missouri posed a mighty risk to these wildcats.
First, it has become clear that Calipari led Kentucky teams have struggled on the road. This year, road games at Baylor, North Carolina, Vanderbilt, Arkansas, and LSU have produced a 1-4 record. Last year, road games at Notre Dame, Louisville, Vanderbilt, Auburn, Alabama, Mississippi, Texas A&M, Florida, Tennessee, Arkansas, Georgia, Vanderbilt in Nashville (SEC Tournament), and Robert Morris (NIT) yielded a 3-9 record. That is 4-12 over the last 16 road games leading into the week that was. Back to back road games at venues that would be very difficult to secure wins against a backdrop of a fading national ranking and already trailing the Gators in the SEC race.
The Big Blue Nation understood the current situation as well as this recent history. The Big Blue Nation understood that this team had reached its critical cross roads for the season. To restore some measure of national prominence, and to keep pace with the surging Gators, the Big Blue Nation understood that the Cats needed to win back to back road games. To keep just a glimmer of hope for an SEC championship alive, the Cats could not possible return to Rupp the following week having sustained its 5 th and 6 th losses of this season, the 2 nd and 3 rd SEC loss.
Yet, it appeared on Tuesday night in Baton Rouge that this team felt no sense of urgency in the game they faced against a hungry and desperate group of MISSOURI Tigers. The Tigers knew how important that game was for their NCAA invitation hopes given their 11-6, 3-3 first half of the season. The Tigers were ready. The Cats were not. Before the first media timeout, the Cats had committed 5 turnovers and fell behind 12-2, a 10 point deficit that would balloon to 16 points (22-6) before the Cats elevated their game to a level that could at least compete. But, the failure to start a game with enthusiasm, with intensity, with a sense of urgency this time was more than this team could overcome this time, and the Cats played from behind the entire game before finally losing by 5.
Of these two road games, a mere 5 days ago, it seemed clear that the most dangerous of the two for the Cats would be the second game, at Missouri. The Cats left Lexington needing two wins, and absolutely having to have at least 1 win out of the two. LSU was the more winnable of the two, yet this team laid an egg in Baton Rouge, and on Saturday, this team faces an absolute must win situation against another set of Tigers, this group based in Columbia, Missouri.
Prior to the LSU game, I pointed out that the final 1/3 of the season has arrived, and this is the time that Calipari led Kentucky teams have revealed it season ending form. The glimpse of this final revelation that the LSU game provided was not encouraging.
MISSOURI will put their 16-4; 4-3 SEC record on the line when the Cats make their first trip into the Tiger Den in Columbia for the first time in a SEC contest. Last year, when Missouri appeared in Rupp for its first SEC game there, a desperate and wounded UK team managed to send these Tigers home with a loss in overtime. No one should doubt that Missouri marked February 1 on their sports calendar way back in August as THE GAME for this season at the MIZZOU ARENA.
White Out! Black Out! Tiger Stripe Out! Good weather or bad! Regardless of all other circumstances of world or local events, the appearance of Kentucky at their place on February 1 would be the biggest event of the season.
The Tigers completed their non-conference season 12-1, losing only to #82 Illinois by 1 point at a neutral venue. Missouri claims wins over #18 UCLA by 9 and at #85 NC State by 4. Once the SEC started however, the Tigers have stumbled to a 4-3 record. Road losses at Vanderbilt by 3 (A rare UK road win this season) and at LSU on January 21 by 6. Missouri has claimed conference wins at Auburn and at Arkansas by 4 (A UK loss this season) and home wins over Alabama by 21 and South Carolina by 8. The mystery game for this Missouri team has been it overtime loss at home to #129 Georgia in their conference opener. MISSOURI's schedule strength has been 0.5438 (117 th ).
MISSOURI has averaged 67 to 68 possessions per game, scoring 74.8 ppg (1.111 ppp) and allowing 66.6 ppg (0.974 ppp). MISSOURI has turned the ball over on 18.8% of its possessions while forcing turnovers on 16.2% of opponent possessions. On the Boards, MISSOURI has secured an offensive rebounding rate of 36.7% about 6% above the 31% NCAA average, and a defensive rebounding rate of 70.3%, about 1% above the NCAA average.
In contrast, the Cats have averaged about 70 possessions per game, producing 79.8 ppg (1.139 ppp) and allowing 66.6 ppg (0.956 ppp). The Cats have committed turnovers on 18.1% of its possessions and forced turnovers on 16.5% of opponent possessions. On the Boards, the Cats' rebounding rates have been 43.6% and 68.7% on the offensive and defensive ends against a schedule strength of .6245 (#41).
Based on this distribution, the analysis tips in favor of MISSOURI by 2 points, 73-71 in a game played at a pace of 69 possessions for the Cats and 69 possessions for MISSOURI. Pomeroy figures the Game in Kentucky's favor by 2 points, 75-73 at a pace of 67 possessions.
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Coach Calipari pulled Willie Cauley-Stein from the starting lineup and replaces him with Dakari Johnson, for an all freshmen starting lineup. Johnson joins the four freshmen Randle, Young, and the Harrison Twins. Willie Cauley-Stein, Poythress, Hawkins, Lee, and Polson will probably see action off the bench.
Missouri controls the tip and after a couple of dry possessions, the Tigers draw first blood, but the Cats answer with the next 7 points, and move out to an early 11-6 lead by the under 16 media timeout. Willie Cauley-Stein entered the game after about 3 ½ minutes after Johnson committed his second foul. Alex Poythress entered the game at the timeout, and hit a 3 pointer on the Cats first offensive possession after the timeout. However, on two of Missouri's 3 possessions after the break, Willie Cauley-Stein picks up his two fouls. Two of four from the line and a pair of 3 pointers by the Tigers cuts the Cats' lead to 2 points, 16-14, prompting a timeout by Coach Calipari. After the timeout, the Cats turn the ball over for the second time, and following a no call at one end, and a foul call at the other, Missouri coach Haith picked up a technical fouls. Andrew Harrison made one of two technical shots, and Randle failed to complete the 3 point play from the line. The Cats finish the second segment with Willie Cauley-Stein picking up his third foul of the game and the Cats clinging to a 4 point lead, 19-14 at the under 12 media timeout.
In the third segment, Missouri continues to tighten the game, trimming the Kentucky lead to a single point, 24-23, at the under 8 media timeout. The Cats will have the first possession after the timeout. Through the first 12 minutes, the pace is about 65 to 70 possessions. In the fourth segment, James Young's 3 pointer lifted the Cats back on top by 5, 31-26 with 3:23 to play at the under 4 media timeout. The Cats again will have the first possession for the final segment of the first half. Out of the timeout, Andrew Harrison scores on a drive and then goes the length of the court for another layup off Missouri's 6 th turnover of the half to lift the Cats up to a 9 point lead with 2:55 left in the first half after a Missouri timeout. The Cats finish the half with a 10 point lead, 42-32.
UK scored its 42 points in a total of 32 possessions for the half, and MISSOURI scored its 32 points on a total of 33 possessions. Kentucky won the battle of the boards in the first half, 15-12, and Kentucky won the battle of the offensive glass 4-0. Kentucky converted its 4 second chance possessions to score 6 second chance points, and MISSOURI used its 0 second chance possessions to score 0 second chance points. MISSOURI had an efficiency of 0.97 ppp for its 33 first chance possessions, and 0.000 ppp for its 0-second chance possessions. UK had 1.125 ppp on its 32 first chance possessions and 1.500 ppp on its 4 second chance possession. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed 25.0% of its misses as offensive rebounds while MISSOURI was able to convert 0.0% of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.
UK hit poorly from the free throw line in this half, making 6-10 [60.0%]. MISSOURI was 11-14 [78.6%] for the half. Field goal shooting for UK was 16-29 overall [55.2%] and 4-9 from long range [44.4%]. For MISSOURI, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was a strong 6-11 [54.5%] and from long range, MISSOURI hit 3-8 [37.5%].
The Cats committed 3 turnovers in the first half, 1 for each 10.7 possessions MISSOURI committed 7 turnovers in this first half, one for each 4.7 possessions.
The Cats open the second half with back to back trips to the free throw line, and the made all four attempts to ease on top by 12 points, but a Missouri 3 pointer trimmed the lead to 9, 46-37, prompting Coach Calipari to take an early second half timeout. Out of the timeout, Young drains a 3 pointer, and makes a basket off another Missouri turnover. Then after a Missouri Basket stops the run, Young drains another 3 pointer, and Randle scores inside the paint to give the Cats a 15 point lead, 56-41, at the under 16 media timeout. In the second segment, the Cats move on top by 16 points 59-43, but 2 straight points by the Tigers cuts the lead back to the halftime margin, 10 points, 59-49, prompting another timeout by Coach Calipari with 12:05 to play in the game. Out of the timeout, Dakari Johnson makes a basket from about 5 feet, and is fouled. After the under 12 media timeout, Johnson will attempt to complete the 3 point play with the Cats on top by 12.
In the third segment, Missouri brings to the Cats, outscoring the Cats 10-4 to trim the lead to 4 points, 63-59 with 9:03 to play. At the under 8 media timeout, the Cats are clinging to a 5 point lead, 66-61 with 7:13 remaining in the game and Missouri in possession. In the fourth segment, Missouri was able to pull to within 3 points of Kentucky, but no closer as the Cats managed to stem their surge, and pull back out to a 8 point lead, 76-68 at the under 4 media timeout with 2:51 to play in the game. Missouri will have the ball after this timeout.
The teams trade scores on the first couple of possessions, and Missouri takes a timeout with 1:33 to play with the Cats up by 7, 78-71. Missouri makes a 4 point play out of the timeout to trim the lead to 3 points again. The Cats work the clock before going into Randle to go up by 5, but Missouri quickly moves to a layup and a timeout to cut the lead back to 3 points, 80-77 with 51 seconds to play. The Cats use the clock before Aaron Harrison makes a layup on a baseline drive, and at the other end, Missouri again goes quickly to the rim, but this time Randle blocks the shot, and Missouri fouls Aaron Harrison. He makes them both, and the Missouri put back basket at the buzzer is not enough as the Cats survive a must win road game at Missouri 84-79.
UK scored its 84 points in a total of 65 possessions (1.292 ppp) for the game, and MISSOURI scored its 79 points on a total of 67 possessions (1.179 ppp). Kentucky and Missouri fought to even terms on the boards, each grabbing 29 rebounds, but Kentucky won the battle of the offensive glass 8-5. Kentucky used its 8 second chance possessions to score 13 second chance points, and MISSOURI converted their 5 offensive rebounds into 5 second chance points. MISSOURI had an offensive efficiency of 1.104 ppp on its 67 first chance possessions and 1.000 ppp for its 5 second chance possessions. UK had 1.092 ppp on its 65 first chance possessions and 1.625 ppp on its 8 second chance possessions. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed 25.0% of its misses as offensive rebounds while MISSOURI was able to convert 19.2%, of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.
UK hit poorly from the free throw line in this game, making 16-24[66.7%]. MISSOURI made 19-29 [65.5%] for the game. Field goal shooting for UK was 30-56 overall [53.6%] and 8-14 from long range [57.1%]. For MISSOURI, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was a strong 21-34 [61.8%] and from long range, MISSOURI hit 6-17 [35.3%].
The Cats committed 7 turnovers, one for every 9.3 possessions. The Cats forced 8 MISSOURI turnovers, one for every 8.4 possessions.
Next Game On Schedule: Tuesday night against Mississippi at Rupp Arena.
Submitted by Richard Cheeks
Submitted by Richard Cheeks