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2013-14 Season Analytical Writings
In recent years, Kentucky and Rupp Arena have hosted the ESPN College Game Day that culminates with an important night game that carries national importance and national interest. The Nation Importance certainly exists when the Gators bring their #3 ranked Gators to town with an unblemished 11-0 SEC record and a 22-2 overall record for the season. The National Importance lies with the Gators, which is not what the Big Blue Nation expected several months ago when ESPN announced its College Game Day schedule. Of course, the national interest is also heightened, and the interest, at least for observers outside the Big Blue Nation, is whether this current crop of Kentucky freshmen can put together an effort for 40 minutes that will be sufficient to keep the Wildcats in the game going into the last 4 minute segment. Many national observers have their doubts, for good reason.
The Gators and the Wildcats opened the season highly regarded, with #3 and #4 pre-season Pomeroy rankings respectively. Unlike the Wildcats, the Gators have not disappointed, and current stand in the #4 position while the Cats are currently #15, and they have been languishing in the 14 to 18 range since late December.
The Gators hold a commanding 2 game lead over Kentucky in the SEC race. Assuming (safely so) that the Gator's only realistic chance to pick up an SEC loss is this Saturday at Rupp Arena, the Cats find themselves in a must win situation, not just for the encounter, but for the last 7 games, including a return encounter with these Gators in Gainesville in the last regular season game. The stakes are exceedingly high for the Cats.
FLORIDA will put their 22-2, 11-0 SEC record on the line when the enter Rupp Arena on Saturday night. FLORIDA's schedule strength has been 0.6253 (56 h ). FLORIDA has averaged 64 possessions per game, scoring 71.2 ppg (1.105 ppp) and allowing 57.9 ppg (0.901 ppp). FLORIDA has turned the ball over on 17.9% of its possessions while forcing turnovers on 21.7% of opponent possessions. On the Boards, FLORIDA has secured an offensive rebounding rate of 37.4% about 8% above the 29% NCAA average, and a defensive rebounding rate of 70.3%, about 1% above the NCAA average.
In contrast, the Cats have averaged about 69 to 70 possessions per game, producing 78.8 ppg (1.141 ppp) and allowing 66.3 ppg (0.962 ppp). The Cats have committed turnovers on 17.4% of its possessions and forced turnovers on 16.2% of opponent possessions. On the Boards, the Cats' rebounding rates have been 43.3% and 69.0% on the offensive and defensive ends against a schedule strength of 0.6332 (#50).
Based on this distribution, the analysis tips in favor of Kentucky by 5 points, 71-66 in a game played at a pace of 67 possessions for the Cats and 67 possessions for FLORIDA. Pomeroy figures the Game in Kentucky's favor by 2 points, 68-66 at a pace of 63 possessions.
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For the fifth consecutive game, Coach Calipari has started Dakari Johnson in lieu of Willie Cauley-Stein and Coach Calipari will again put an all freshmen starting lineup on the court. 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.
The Cats control the tip, and manage to get to the line on their first offensive set where Aaron Harrison made both. That was followed by a 3 pointer and a 2 pointer by Young as the Cats raced out to an early 7-2 lead. However, the Gators scored the next 5 points, the last basket including a Kentucky foul to take the game to the under 16 media timeout, and Florida will have the “and one” free throw after the break with a chance for the Gators first lead of the game. The Gators convert the free throw, and following the Cats' 3 rd turnover, score to move on top by 3 points, 10-7, completing an 8 point run. The Cats end their run with a bank shot by Willie Cauley-Stein and a fast break basket by Aaron Harrison to move on top again, 11-10 at the under 12 media timeout.
Randle will be at the line for a pair of free throws after this timeout. Randle made one of his two free throws, and the Cats missed three more free throws in the third segment that saw the Gators move back in front by 1 point, 17-16 at the under 8 media timeout, and the Gators will be shooting free throws after the timeout. The Gators made both free throws to go back on top by their largest lead, 3 points, but Julius Randle hit a 3 pointer to tie the score at 19-19, and after the teams traded baskets, the Cats moved up by 2 points, 25-23, at the under 4 media timeout, and the Cats have the ball with 3:49 to play in the first half. In the final segment, the Cats extended their lead to a game high 7 points, 31-24, but the Gators scored the last 4 points of the half to trim the lead to 3 points, 31-28 at the half.
UK scored its 31 points in a total of 30 possessions for the half, and FLORIDA scored its 28 points on a total of 30 possessions. Florida won the battle of the boards in the first half, 18-17, and Florida controlled the offensive glass with a 7-2 advantage. Kentucky converted its 2 second chance possessions to score 4 second chance points, and FLORIDA used its 7 second chance possessions to score 6 second chance points. FLORIDA had an efficiency of 0.733 ppp for its 30 first chance possessions, and 0.857 ppp for its 7-second chance possessions. UK had 0.900 ppp on its 30 first chance possessions and 2.000 ppp on its 2 second chance possessions. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed 15.4% of its misses as offensive rebounds while FLORIDA was able to convert 31.8% of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.
UK hit poorly from the free throw line in this half, making 7-11 [63.6%]. FLORIDA was 7-11[63.6%] for the half. Field goal shooting for UK was 11-21 overall [52.4%] and 2-4 from long range [50.0%]. For FLORIDA, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was a fair 9-21 [42.9%] and from long range, FLORIDA hit 1-9 [11.1%].
The Cats committed 6 turnovers in the first half, 1 for each 5.0 possessions FLORIDA committed 2 turnovers in this first half, one for each 15.0 possessions.
Florida opens the second half making 4 of their first 5 shots t move back into the lead by 2 points 36-34, prompting a Kentucky timeout with 16:57 to play in the game. Out of the timeout, Young drains a 3 pointers on an assist by Randle, and following a Gator miss, Young scores near the basket on another assist by Randle to lift the Cats back into the 3 point lead they held at the half. The Gators missed again, and when the Cats went to the post to Willie Cauley-Stein, they fouled the big man, sending the teams to the bench for the under 16 media timeout with 14:37 remaining in the game, the Cats up by 3, 39-36, and Willie Cauley-Stein set to try two free throws. Willie Cauley-Stein missed both of his attempts. However, the Gators missed for their third consecutive dry possession, and Andrew Harrison made a pair of free throws at the other end to left the Cats to a 5 point lead, 41-36, and extending the current run to 7 points. Donovan took a timeout.
After the timeout, the Gators ended the Cats' run. The Cats answered to regain the 5 point lead at the under 12 media timeout with 11:39 to play in the game, and the Gators in possession of the ball.
In the third segment, the Cats move up by 7 points, but the Gators answered with a 3 point play and a 3 point basket to cut the lead to 1 point, 45-44. Then after Randle makes only 1 of 2 free throws, and the Gators make another 3 point play to move into the lead. Julius Randle makes a pair of free throws to give the Cats a 1 point lead, and the officials call a technical on Coach Calipari, which gives the Gators the lead and the ball. The Gators convert on the possession to go up by 3, 51-48. The Cats lead by 7 points, 45-38, and the Gators have taken the lead on a 13-3 run to the under 8 media timeout.
After the timeout, Young will have a pair of free throws. In the 4 th segment, the Cats can't get back into the lead because Florida transformed two misses into 5 points with a put back basket and a long rebound that allowed a 3 pointer. Coach Calipari takes a timeout with 4:14 to play and the Cats down 5, 60-55. The Gators close the deal at the free throw line, making 7 of 9 and one basket to beat the Cats by 10, 69-59.
UK scored its 59 points in a total of 57 possessions (1.035 ppp) for the game, and FLORIDA scored its 69 points on a total of 57 possessions (1.210 ppp). Kentucky controlled the boards with a 31-28 advantage, but Florida won the battle on the offensive glass 10-9. Kentucky used its 9 second chance possessions to score 8 second chance points, and FLORIDA converted their 10 offensive rebounds into 12 second chance points. FLORIDA had an offensive efficiency of 1.000 ppp on its 57 first chance possessions and 1.200 ppp for its 10 second chance possessions. UK had 0.895 ppp on its 57 first chance possessions and 0.889 ppp on its 9 second chance possessions. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed 33.3.% of its misses as offensive rebounds while FLORIDA was able to convert 31.3%, of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.
UK hit poorly from the free throw line in this game, making 14-23 [60.9%]. FLORIDA made 22-28 [78.6%] for the game. Field goal shooting for UK was 20-42 overall [47.6%] and 5-12 from long range [41.7%]. For FLORIDA, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was 19-37 [51.4%] and from long range, FLORIDA hit 3-13 [23.1%].
The Cats committed 13 turnovers, one for every 4.4 possessions. The Cats forced 5 FLORIDA turnovers, one for every 11.4 possessions.
Next Game On Schedule: Tuesday night against Mississippi at Oxford.
Submitted by Richard Cheeks
Submitted by Richard Cheeks