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2013-14 Season Analytical Writings
On Saturday night, the Kentucky Wildcats put in their weakest defensive performance of the season, and had a complete defensive collapse over the last 11 minutes of the game that allowed FLORIDA to transform the 7 point deficit they faced when Billy Donovan called a timeout to rally his charges into a 10 point victory when the clock ran down to all zeros. The game was played at FLORIDA's preferred pace (very slow) and the Gators exposed two of Kentucky's major season long weaknesses, turnover margin and poor free throw shooting. At the same time, the Gators negated the one strength that this team had relied upon throughout the season, e.g rebounding, and specifically offensive rebounding.
The impact of this loss is that FLORIDA will now be the SEC regular season champion, and Kentucky is left in a race that will determine its SEC Tournament seed, and of course its NCAA Tournament seed. The Cats have six games remaining, as do all SEC teams. Three games will be on the road, at MISSISSIPPI, at South Carolina, and at FLORIDA. The three home games will be rematches against the two teams that had handed them their first two SEC losses, LSU and Arkansas, and Georgia. The Cats enter this stretch with 3 SEC losses, Georgia has 4 and is currently in third place, and UK's next opponent is in 4 th , with 5 SEC losses. Tennessee, Missouri, LSU, and Vanderbilt are all sitting in a group, just outside the top 4, jockeying to emerge from that pack and challenging UK, Georgia, and MISSISSIPPI for those precious bye's into the quarterfinal round.
Of the six opponents remaining, UK has already faced four of them, losing to Arkansas, LSU, and FLORIDA, and defeating Ole Miss at Rupp earlier this month by 16 points. The schedule makers sure seem to identify the matchups that would make a difference for this stretch run, especially with Georgia nipping on the Cats' SEC heels, and a road trip to Frank Martin's South Carolina crew that has won 3 of their last 4 home SEC games, and their last two SEC games after their 1-9 start.
This Kentucky team is at the proverbial cross roads on its season. This team can let the collapse of the last quarter of the FLORIDA game define them, or they can close this season emphatically by showing the world, and more importantly themselves, that they belong on the same national stage at FLORIDA, Michigan State, and others. The time for talk has long passed. The time to perform and win games has arrived.
MISSISSIPPI will put their 16-9, 7-5 SEC record on the line when the Cats arrive at Tad Smith for this rematch. Since the first encounter at Rupp, MISSISSIPPI has lost two of it three games, beating Missouri at home aby 3 and losing at Alabama by 3 and at Georgia by 1. MISSISSIPPI's schedule strength has been 0.5720 (97 h ). MISSISSIPPI has averaged 71 possessions per game, scoring 76.1 ppg (1.070 ppp) and allowing 71.6 ppg (1.007 ppp). MISSISSIPPI has turned the ball over on 15.8% of its possessions while forcing turnovers on 20.1% of opponent possessions. On the Boards, MISSISSIPPI has secured an offensive rebounding rate of 32.7% about 4% above the 29% NCAA average, and a defensive rebounding rate of 63.1%, about 8% below the NCAA average.
In contrast, the Cats have averaged about 68 to 69 possessions per game, producing 78.0 ppg (1.137 ppp) and allowing 66.4 ppg (0.970 ppp). The Cats have committed turnovers on 17.5% of its possessions and forced turnovers on 15.9% of opponent possessions. On the Boards, the Cats' rebounding rates have been 42.9% and 69.0% on the offensive and defensive ends against a schedule strength of 0.6475 (#38).
Based on this distribution, the analysis tips in favor of Kentucky by 2 points, 74-72 in a game played at a pace of 70 possessions for the Cats and 70 possessions for MISSISSIPPI. Pomeroy figures the Game in Kentucky's favor by 4 points, 76-72 at a pace of 69 possessions.
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For the sixth 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.
UK scored its 42 points in a total of 34 possessions for the half, and MISSISSIPPI scored its 25 points on a total of 33 possessions. Kentucky won the battle of the boards in the first half, 21-9, and Kentucky controlled the offensive glass with a 6-3 advantage. Kentucky converted its 6 second chance possessions to score 5 second chance points, and MISSISSIPPI used its 3 second chance possessions to score 0 second chance points. MISSISSIPPI had an efficiency of 0.758 ppp for its 33 first chance possessions, and 0.000 ppp for its 3-second chance possessions. UK had 1.100 ppp on its 34 first chance possessions and 0.833 ppp on its 6 second chance possessions.
UK hit well from the free throw line in this half, making 2-2 [100.0%]. MISSISSIPPI was 6-7 [85.7%] for the half. Field goal shooting for UK was 17-29 overall [58.6%] and 6-13 from long range [46,2%]. For MISSISSIPPI, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was a poor 5-16 [32.9%] and from long range, MISSISSIPPI hit 3-10 [30.0%].
The Cats committed 10 turnovers in the first half, 1 for each 3.4 possessions MISSISSIPPI committed 7 turnovers in this first half, one for each 4.7 possessions.
UK scored its 84 points in a total of 72 possessions (1.167 ppp) for the game, and MISSISSIPPI scored its 70 points on a total of 71 possessions (0.986 ppp). Kentucky controlled the boards with a 39-23 advantage, but Kentucky and MISSISSIPPI each grabbed 10 rebounds on the offensive glass 10-10. Kentucky used its 10 second chance possessions to score 11 second chance points, and MISSISSIPPI converted their 10 offensive rebounds into 2 second chance points. MISSISSIPPI had an offensive efficiency of 0.958 ppp on its 71 first chance possessions and 0.200 ppp for its 10 second chance possessions. UK had 1.014 ppp on its 72 first chance possessions and 1.100 ppp on its 10 second chance possessions. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed 43.5.% of its misses as offensive rebounds while MISSISSIPPI was able to convert 25.6%, of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.
UK hit well from the free throw line in this game, making 27-30 [90.0%]. MISSISSIPPI made 13-15 [86.7%] for the game. Field goal shooting for UK was 25-48 overall [52.1%] and 7-19 from long range [36.8%]. For MISSISSIPPI, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was 15-35 [42.9%] and from long range, MISSISSIPPI hit 9-27 [33.3%].
The Cats committed 19 turnovers, one for every 3.8 possessions. The Cats forced 13 MISSISSIPPI turnovers, one for every 5.5 possessions.
Next Game On Schedule: Saturday afternoon against LSU at Rupp.
Submitted by Richard Cheeks
Submitted by Richard Cheeks