2013-14 Season Analytical Writings

Senior Day 2014 Has Arrived-Alabama Is the Invited Guest

It has been 50 years since March 2, 1964, which stands as an important date to remember because the Cats lost on Senior Day. That was the last such loss for an Adolph Rupp coached team, and the Cats would not lose another senior day game until 33 years later in 1997 when Pitino's last team lost to SOUTH CAROLINA, the first such loss at Rupp Arena. Since 1997, the Cats have not managed to get the wins on this important occasion three more times, in 2001, 2006, and 2009. That is 5 senior days losses in the last 50 years.

On Tuesday night, the Cats will celebrate senior day for the 51 st time since that 1964 season when Alabama comes to town. Jarrod Polson and Jon Hood are the two Kentucky seniors on this team, and both of them are native sons who have given all they have been capable of giving, and more, to the program that they dreamed of playing for as young boys. The Rupp Arena crowd, indeed the entire Big Blue Nation will want to give these two favorite sons a fairwell that will be second to none. The pre-game ceremonies will be important toward the memories that this evening wants to create, but so too will be leaving the Rupp floor for their last time as players with a win.

My hope is two-fold: First, I hope that Coach Calipari will start them both in honor of this long standing UK tradition. Second, I hope that the team appreciates the importance of this particular evening and work together for 40 minutes to deliver these two Kentuckians a win for the ages. Nothing less on Tuesday night will satisfy this old sentimental member of the Big Blue Nation.

Of course, the Senior Day backdrop in 2014 has to be the manner in which this team has been playing over the last five games that includes

•  A loss to Florida when the team collapsed over the last 11 minutes to seize a loss from the clutches of victory,

•  An embarrassing 1 point OT win over a non-descript LSU team,

•  An embarrassing 5 point OT loss to an Arkansas team that had spanked this team in Fayetteville earlier this season, and

•  A completely inexplicable, and humiliating loss at SOUTH CAROLINA to a team that is barely average in the NCAA D1 field of 351 teams.

The Cats limped home from Columbia, SOUTH CAROLINA Saturday night with only Sunday and Monday to prepare for their final game at Rupp Arena of the season, and for the two seniors, the final Rupp appearance of their careers. The team appeared to be in a state of complete disarray over the last 5 games, but never moreso than on Saturday in their loss to SOUTH CAROLINA, which must be the most embarrassing UK loss of the Calipari era.

ALABAMA has a 12-17 overall record, 6-10 in the SEC against a schedule strength of 0.7079 (6 th ). Alabama will close out their season with at Kentucky and in Tuscaloosa against Arkansas. ALABAMA has averaged 66 possessions per game, scoring 67.2 ppg (1.026 ppp) and allowing 68.0 ppg (1.030 ppp). ALABAMA has turned the ball over on 18.4% of its possessions while forcing turnovers on 18.9% of opponent possessions. On the Boards, ALABAMA has secured an offensive rebounding rate of 30.1% about 1% above the 29% NCAA average, and a defensive rebounding rate of 65.3%, about 4% below the NCAA average.

In contrast, the Cats have averaged about 69 possessions per game, producing 77.4 ppg (1.122 ppp) and allowing 67.2 ppg (0.975 ppp). The Cats have committed turnovers on 17.9% of its possessions and forced turnovers on 16.2% of opponent possessions. On the Boards, the Cats' rebounding rates have been 43.7% and 68.8% on the offensive and defensive ends against a schedule strength of 0.6632 (#39).

Based on this distribution, the analysis tips in favor of Kentucky by 16 points, 78-62 in a game played at a pace of 68 possessions for the Cats and 67 possessions for ALABAMA.

Pomeroy figures the Game in Kentucky's favor by 12 points, 73-61 at a pace of 64 possessions.

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

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Game Summary:

It's senior night, and Jarrod Polson and Jon Hood will both be honored with starting lineup positions for the game tonight. Coach Calipari will seat Andrew Harrison and James Young. Willie Cauley-Stein, Julius Randle, and Aaron Harrison will join the two seniors at the center circle to start the game. Willie Cauley-Stein, Poythress, Hawkins, Lee, and Polson will probably see action off the bench.

Alabama controlled the opening tip, and turned the ball over on the first possession. Kentucky returns the favor on its first possession. Following an Alabama miss, Jon Hood gives the Cats their first score of the night on a 3 pointer from the corner. After a pair of ‘Bama baskets lift the Tide up by a point, Jarrod Polson drains the Cats' second 3 pointer from the top of the key to put the Cats bank on top 6-4 at the under 16 media timeout. The two seniors have made the only baskets in the opening segment, while Julius Randle has missed the only other UK shot attempt and committed the second UK turnover on a charge at the end of the first segment.

In the second segment, Coach Calipari pulls the seniors, who accounted for all of the Cats' points for Andrew Harrison and James Young. The result, 0-4 shooting, and no defense as the Tide moves up 11-7, forcing a UK timeout with 12:21 left in the first half. After the timeout, the Cats make a pair of free throws to trim the Tide lead to 2 points, 11-9 at the under 12 media timeout. In the third segment, the teams trade a pair of scores, and Alabama continues to lead by two points, 15-13 at the under 8 media timeout. After the timeout, Alex Poythress makes two free throws to tie the score. However, Alabama responds with a basket, and continue to play from the lead, ranging between 1 and 3 points until Julius Randle picks up a stray pass, scores and is fouled to tie the score 20-20 at the under 4 media timeout.

Willie Cauley-Stein was fouled on a drive just prior to the timeout, and after the timeout, he missed the first and makes the second to lift the Cats back on top by a point, 21-20. The lead was short lived as Alabama makes a 3 pointer from the corner. The Cats' finish the first half with their lowest point total for a first half of the season, trailing a bad Alabama team by 3, 28-25.

UK scored its 25 points in a total of 28 possessions for the half, and ALABAMA scored its 28 points on a total of 29 possessions. Kentucky won the battle of the boards 22-13, and UK controlled the offensive glass, 7-1. Kentucky converted its 7 second chance possessions to score 7 second chance points, and ALABAMA used its 1 second chance possession to score 3 second chance points. ALABAMA had an efficiency of 0.966 ppp for its 29 first chance possessions, and 3.000 ppp for its 1-second chance possession. UK had 0.643 ppp on its 28 first chance possessions and 1.000 ppp on its 7 second chance possessions. The Cats managed to grab 36.8% of their misses as offensive rebounds while Alabama managed to get 6.3% of their misses for second chance possessions.

UK hit well from the free throw line in this half, making 11-15 [73.3%]. ALABAMA was 3-5 [60.0] for the half. Field goal shooting for UK was 6-24 overall [25.0%] and 2-13 from long range [15.4%]. For ALABAMA, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was 8-18 [44.4%] and from long range, ALABAMA hit 3-8 [37.5%].

The Cats committed 4 turnovers in the first half, 1 for each 7.0 possessions ALABAMA committed 2 turnovers in this first half, one for each 14.5 possessions.

The similarities between the first half of this game and the first half at South Carolina on Saturday are striking, and the 3 point deficit is identical. In Columbia, the Cats allowed the Gamecocks to race out to a 16 point lead in the second half before making a frantic run in the last 10 minutes to have a chance to pull out the victory. How will the Cats start the second half tonight?

Second Half

Alabama opens play in the second with a perimeter basket to take their largest lead, 5 points on their first second half possession. Andrew Harrison responds with a 3-point play to trim the lead to 2 points, 30-28. When the Cats press after the made free throw, Alabama is forced to take a timeout when they can't get it inbounds. Out of the timeout, Alabama makes a jump shot in the lane, and the Cats then turnover the ball. The Cats take a 3 point lead on a 3 pointer by Aaron Harrison, but Alabama pulls back to within 1 point on a pair of free throws prior to the under 16 media timeout. After the timeout, Alabama will have the ball with a chance to move back into the lead.

In the second segment, the Cats move on top by 9 points, 43-34 when Dakari Johnson gets an offensive rebound off Young's missed free throw and put it in the basket. However, Alabama stops the UK run at 15-2 with a basket to pull within 7, 43-36, at the under 12 media timeout. In the third segment, the Cats again fell in love with the 3 point shot that would not fall, attempting 5, making none, and Alabama outscored the Cats 6-2 to trim the lead to only 3 points, forcing Coach Calipari to take a timeout with 7:39 to play. In the fourth segment, the Tide trim the UK 9 point lead to a single point, 48-47, but the Cats respond with 5 straight on a basket by Johnson and a 3 pointer by Young to move back on top by 6, 53-47 at the under 4 media timeout with 3:10 remaining in the game.

Cats win on Senior night by 7, 55-48.


UK scored its 55 points in a total of 56 possessions (0.982 ppp) for the game, and ALABAMA scored its 48 points on a total of 57 possessions (0.842 ppp). Kentucky won the battle of the boards with a 41-27 advantage, and Kentucky won the battle of the offensive glass 15-6 Kentucky used its 15 second chance possessions to score 18 second chance points, and ALABAMA converted their 6 offensive rebounds into 3 second chance points. ALABAMA had an offensive efficiency of 0.789 ppp on its 57 first chance possessions and 0.500 ppp for its 6 second chance possessions. UK had 0.661 ppp on its 56 first chance possessions and 1.200 ppp on its 15 second chance possessions. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed 41.7% of its misses as offensive rebounds while ALABAMA was able to convert 18.8%, of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.

UK hit well from the free throw line in this game, making 18-24 [75.0%]. ALABAMA made 7-11 [63.6%] for the game. Field goal shooting for UK was 16-49 overall [32.7%] and 5-28 from long range [17.9%]. For ALABAMA, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was 16-37 [43.2%] and from long range, ALABAMA hit 3-13 [23.1%].

The Cats committed 12 turnovers, one for every 4.7 possessions. The Cats forced 8 ALABAMA turnovers, one for every 7.1 possessions.

Next Game On Schedule: Saturday afternoon against Florida at Gainesville in the last game of the 2013-14 season.

Submitted by Richard Cheeks


Submitted by Richard Cheeks


Cat Close Out Regular Season At #1 Florida

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