2013-14 Season Analytical Writings

The Cats Got It Right Against LSU
Will Face Georgia In Semifinals


On Friday night, Coach Calipari returned to his all freshman starting lineup, and after just one minute of action, Coach Calipari was calling a timeout with his team down 6-0. However, this “slow” start simply required a defensive adjustment to abandon the double team on Johnny O'Bryant to protect the perimeter. The Dawgs were able to battle in the first 8 minutes to an 8 point lead, 22-14, but once the UK's defensive adjustment took full effect, the Cats outscored LSU 23-3 to take command of the game over the following 8 minutes. LSU did make one last charge in the second half, cutting the halftime lead to only 3 points, 52-49, but the Cats fed off the dominant Big Blue crowd's support and finished the game on a 33-19 fun to win by 18, 85-67.

The Cats' overall performance against LSU was perhaps their best of the season, and was clearly this team's best game in many weeks. If “third time” has ever been a charm, it was a shining charm when the Cats dismantled an LSU team that had whipped these Cats in Baton Rouge, and took the Cats to the mat at Rupp Arena. Wildcat critic Barry Booker, following the game, was stunned, and declared the UK effort the best of the SEC Tournament, citing Florida's struggles against Missouri early on Friday.

So, the Cats did not simply survive to advance, this team enjoyed a confidence building dominance, and DO ADVANCE to Saturday's Semifinal game against a red hot Georgia Bulldog team. Kentucky faced Georgia only once this season, and left the Rupp Arena encounter with a 15 point, 79-64 victory in late January. Late January seems like an eternity for both of these teams on March 15. The Cats, prior to last night's awakening, had been struggling in a very public manner, losing 3 of their last 4 regular season games, and 4 of their last 7. During that seven game stretch, the Cats were struggling on both ends of the court.

Georgia's SEC season has been nothing short of unbelievable. Georgia's non-conference record was an unimpressive 6-6 against a non-conference schedule strength of 0.4275 (276 th strongest), and nearly all SEC observers figured Georgia a lock to make a cameo appearance in the SEC Tournament's first round on Wednesday, and be done. However, no one told Mark Foxx or this Georgia team how their season would obviously play out in such an unimportant manner. The Dawgs simply focused on their SEC schedule, and after a 4-4 start, including that 15 point loss to the Cats, Georgia simply won 8 of their last 10 games even though their schedule strength improved through the SEC season to 0.6027 (89 th ). This surge has lifted Georgia from #170 th rating in Pomeroy to #69 as Georgia prepares for its Semifinal encounter with the Cats. During that 10 game finish, the Dawgs have claimed victories by 13 over LSU, by 15 over Missouri, and by 8 at LSU. The two losses were by 19 at Tennessee, and by 12 at Arkansas. Georgia advanced to the Semifinal round as the Tournament's #3 seed with a 2 point win over Mississippi.

The Dawgs enter this game with a 19-12 overall record, and with last nights win have won 13 of 19 SEC games this season. GEORGIA has averaged 66 to 67 possessions per game, scoring 69.4 ppg (1.042 ppp) and allowing 66.6 ppg (1.004 ppp). GEORGIA has turned the ball over on 19.3% of its possessions while forcing turnovers on 15.5% of opponent possessions. On the Boards, GEORGIA has secured an offensive rebounding rate of 35.5% about 7% above the 29% NCAA average, and a defensive rebounding rate of 70.2%, about 1% above the NCAA average.

In contrast, the Cats have averaged just under 69 possessions per game, producing 76.6 ppg (1.114 ppp) and allowing 67.1 ppg (0.978 ppp). The Cats have committed turnovers on 17.9% of its possessions and forced turnovers on 16.1% of opponent possessions. On the Boards, the Cats' rebounding rates have been 42.7% and 69.8% on the offensive and defensive ends against a schedule strength of 0.6731 (#38).

Based on this distribution, the analysis tips in favor of Kentucky by 8 points, 74-66 in a game played at a pace of 68 possessions for the Cats and 68 possessions for GEORGIA.

Pomeroy has the game as a 6 point margin in favor of Kentucky, 70-64 in a game played at a place 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:

Coach Calipari stays with the all freshmen starting lineup with Dakari Johnson, Julius Randle, James Young, Aaron Harrison and Andrew Harrison, to start the game. Willie Cauley-Stein, Alex Poythress, Hawkins, Lee, and Polson will probably see action off the bench. The big unknown for this game is the tweak that Coach Calipari has teased the media with all week long, and can the Cats begin to find the level of play that the entire BBN has been waiting to see all season.

Georgia controlled the opening tip, but missed all four of their 3 point attempts, and one of their two shots inside the arc, but Kentucky hits 5 of their first six shots, including a pair of 3 pointers by Young to race out to a 12-2 lead. Georgia calls timeout with 16:00 to play. After the timeout, Georgia makes their second basket to cut the lead to 8, but Aaron Harrison receives a lob from his brother, slams it home as a Georgia player knocks him to the floor to put the Cats back up by 10 points. During the second segment, first Willie Cauley-Stein and then James Young both are relegated to the bench with two fouls. At the under 12 media timeout, the Cats are maintaining the lead at 9 points, 17-8, but Georgia will have 2 foul shots after the break as the Dawgs have already drawn 6 team fouls on the Cats and will be shooting free throws on all fouls for the last 12 minutes of the first half. Georgia has only committed 4 fouls in the early going.

After Randle misses a pair of free throw attempts, Alex Poythress becomes the third Cats with 2 first half fouls. After opening red hot, making 7 of their first 9 shots, the Cats have cooled from the field, missing their last 4 attempts, and missing 2 of their last 4 free throw attempts. Georgia on the other hand has made their last two attempts to cut the lead to 4 points, 19-15, forcing a UK timeout with 9:20 remaining. After the timeout, Aaron Harrison gets to the line and makes both to give the Cats a 6 point lead, 21-15, at the under 8 media timeout, and the Cats will have the ball after the timeout. Through the first 12 minutes, the pace is in the mid 60s, and the Cats have 21 points on 19 possessions while yielding 15 points on 20 possessions. During the 4 th segment, the Cats managed to extend their lead back to the game high 10 points, 28-18, but Georgia scored the last 4 points of the segment to trim the lead back to 6 points. Late in the Segment, Dakari Johnson had to go to the bench to mend a cut, and Alex Poythress replaced him with his two fouls. Before the end of the segment, Alex Poythress picked up his third first half foul. Georgia has possession to start the fifth segment of the first half.

In the final segment, Dakari Johnson commits his second foul, and the 13 th Kentucky foul. Georgia's free throws cuts the lead to 4 points, 31-27 with 2:34 left in the first half. After Polson pushes the lead back to 7 points with a 3 pointer from the corner, Lee commits his second foul. Georgia converts on 1 of the 2 attempts, and following an empty UK possession, Georgia gets a rebound basket to cut the lead back to 4 points, 34-30, with 1:02 remaining. Coach Calipari calls a timeout. Aaron Harrison scores for the Cats near the end of the shot clock, and Georgia scores at the buzzer to pull back to within 4 points, 36-32 at the half.

UK scored its 36 points in a total of 32 possessions for the half, and GEORGIA scored its 32 points on a total of 32 possessions. Kentucky won the battle of the boards 22-15, and UK won the offensive glass, 6-1. Kentucky converted its 6 second chance possessions to score 0 second chance points, and GEORGIA used its 1 second chance possession to score 2 second chance points. GEORGIA had an efficiency of 0.938 ppp for its 32 first chance possessions, and 2.000 ppp for its 1-second chance possession. UK had 1.125 ppp on its 32 first chance possessions and 0.000 ppp on its 6 second chance possessions. The Cats managed to grab 30.0% of their misses as offensive rebounds while GEORGIA managed to get 5.9% of their misses for second chance possessions.

UK hit poorly from the free throw line in this half, making 7-14 [50.0%]. GEORGIA was 12-18 [66.7%] for the half. Field goal shooting for UK was 12-27 overall [44.4%] and 5-8 from long range [62.5%]. For GEORGIA, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was 7-10 [70.0%] and from long range, GEORGIA hit 2-10 [20.0%].

The Cats committed 5 turnovers in the first half, 1 for each 6.4 possessions GEORGIA committed 3 turnovers in this first half, one for each 10.7 possessions.

Second Half

Kentucky starts play in the second half with a basket by Randle on its second possession to go up by 6, but after trading scores with Georgia for most of the opening segment, a basket by Georgia in transition cuts the lead to 2 points, 41-39 with 15:02 to play, and Coach Calipari takes a timeout. Out of the timeout, the Cats score on a baseline drive by Young, and after the Cats force a turnover, the Aaron Harrison drains a 3 pointer to move back on top by 7, 46-39, taking the game to the under 16 media timeout with 14:12 remaining in the game. The Dawgs answer out of the timeout with a 3 pointer and 1 of 2 free throws to cut the lead back to 3 points, 46-43, but the Cats respond with a 7-0 run, all second chance points to put the Cats on top by their biggest margin of the game, 10 points, 53-43. Georgia takes a timeout to fix the rebounding issues.

Out of the timeout, Georgia scores to trim the lead to 8. Andrew Harrison took a hard fall to the floor under the UK basket taking the game to the under 12 media timeout with the Cats holding on to the 8 point lead, 53-45 and 9:57 to play in the game. After the timeout, Andrew Harrison remains on the bench. After the timeout, the Cats use the entire shot clock before Randle drives for a basket and is fouled, and when he makes the free throw, the Cats lead by 11, and Randle has gotten his 20 th double double of the season, joining Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins as having accomplish such a record.

At the end of the third segment, the Cats maintain the 10 point lead, 58-48 with 7:08 to play and will have the ball after the break. The Cats and Dawgs exchange turnovers before Andrew Harrison makes a 3 pointer to give the Cats their biggest lead, 13, 61-48 prompting another Georgia timeout with 4:40 to play in the game. Out of the timeout, Georgia scores to trim the lead to 11, 61-50 at the under 4 media timeout with 3:59 to play, and the Cats in possession of the ball. In the final segment, Andrew Harrison makes a running hook shot from the baseline, a 3 pointer, and gets the assist on a fast break basket by Young following a Georgia turnover to go up by 16, 68-52 with 2:08 to play, and another Georgia timeout. With the Cats leading by 14, 70-56, Coach Calipari takes a quick timeout to empty his bench for the last 43 seconds. Georgia closes the scoring and the Cats advance to face Florida in the Championship game by 12 points, 70-58.


UK scored its 70 points in a total of 59 possessions (1.186 ppp) for the game, and GEORGIA scored its 58 points on a total of 59 possessions (0.983 ppp). Kentucky won the battle of the boards with a 35-23 advantage, and Kentucky won the battle of the offensive glass 10-3 Kentucky used its 10 second chance possessions to score 7 second chance points, and GEORGIA converted their 3 offensive rebounds into 2 second chance points. GEORGIA had an offensive efficiency of 0.949 ppp on its 59 first chance possessions and 0.667 ppp for its 3 second chance possessions. UK had 1.068 ppp on its 59 first chance possessions and 0.700 ppp on its 10 second chance possessions. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed 33.3% of its misses as offensive rebounds while GEORGIA was able to convert 10.7%, of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.

UK hit poorly from the free throw line in this game, making 9-18 [50.0%]. GEORGIA made 21-30 [70.0%] for the game. Field goal shooting for UK was 26-51 overall [51.0%] and 9-16 from long range [56.3%]. For GEORGIA, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was 14-25 [56.0%] and from long range, GEORGIA hit 3-13 [23.1%].

The Cats committed 11 turnovers, one for every 5.4 possessions. The Cats forced 8 GEORGIA turnovers, one for every 7.4 possessions.

Next Game On Schedule: Sunday afternoon in the SEC Tournament Championship Game as the Conference #2 seed against the #1 Seed Florida.

Submitted by Richard Cheeks


Submitted by Richard Cheeks


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