BIG BLUE FANS FOR
2013-14 Season Analytical Writings
One week ago, the Cats traveled to Gainesville Florida to close the regular season against the regular season champion Florida Gators. The Gators had dominated the last 10 minutes of their first encounter with Kentucky at Rupp to transform a 7 point second half deficit into a solid 10 point road win. Last week, the Cats were never really in the game, except for a brief portion of the second half when the Cats closed a huge deficit to 4 points before running out of fuel to finish the job. The Basketball gods play tricks on good basketball teams, and more often than not, those tricks have risen up to bite good to very good, even great UK teams when then have to play the same opponent a third time in a single season.
That is the challenge that the Gators will face on Sunday in the SEC Tournament Championship game, and that is the opportunity these rejuvenated, yet already youthful, Cats will have when then take the court Sunday against the #1 ranked Florida Gators.
The Gators and the Cats have each played twice so far in this tournament. The Gators' opponents have challenged the Gators in each game, while the Cats have found new life and won its two games by larger margins that the models or the experts figured would be likely. The Momentum, strange as it may seem, is clearly in the Cats' locker room.
Tomorrow is also selection Sunday for the NCAA tournament. Most figure the Gators have secured a #1 seed, and some believe they may enter the tournament with the #1-#1 seed. Louisville may have something to say about that, but it seems clear that Louisville or Florida will claim that honor in 2014. The game between the Cats and the Gators will have no impact on that calculus. Similarly, the Cats' seeding fate in the tournament has also been decided, and whether they win or lose to the Gators, the Cats will get the same seeding. Tomorrow is for pride, respect, and for the Gators to distinguish itself as the only SEC team to ever complete an SEC Season 21-0.
The Gators will bring an overall record of 31-2, 20-0 in the SEC, and having won their last 26 games into this Conference Championship game having completed a schedule with a strength of 0.6684 (43 rd ). FLORIDA has averaged 66 to 64 possessions per game, scoring 71.0 ppg (1.111 ppp) and allowing 57.9 ppg (0.907ppp). FLORIDA has turned the ball over on 17.6% of its possessions while forcing turnovers on 22.0 of opponent possessions. On the Boards, FLORIDA has secured an offensive rebounding rate of 35.8% about 7% above the 29% NCAA average, and a defensive rebounding rate of 70.9%, about 2% above the NCAA average.
In contrast, the Cats have averaged just under 68 to 69 possessions per game, producing 76.4 ppg (1.115 ppp) and allowing 66.8 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 42.4% and 70.2% on the offensive and defensive ends against a schedule strength of 0.6731 (#38).
Based on this distribution, the analysis tips in favor of Florida by 4 points, 70-66 in a game played at a pace of 66 possessions for the Cats and 66 possessions for FLORIDA.
See how other Big Blue Fans see this game's likely outcome by clicking the following link.
You can enter your prediction at any time prior to tip off by visiting the 247 Sports prediction thread for this game at:
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.
Kentucky controls the opening tip, but find scoring very difficult in the early going, missing their first 5 shots, despite 3 offensive rebounds. However, the Gators make 2 of their first 4 shots, both 3 pointers to move on top 6-0, prompting a UK timeout with 17:50 remaining. After the timeout, the Cats get a basket by Andrew Harrison, and a basket by Young to pull within 2 points, and following 1 for 2 from the line by Florida's Young, and a Florida basket following an offensive rebound, the Cats get a lob dunk from Willie Cauley-Stein to pull within 3 points at the under 16 media timeout. After the timeout, the Cats will be at the line for a pair of free throws. In the second segment, the Cats chip a point off the lead, down to two points, 14-12 at the under 12 media timeout, but Florida will have the ball after the timeoout under their own basket. In the third segment, Patrick Young commits two quick fouls and goes to the bench with 10:55 remaining with the Gators up by 2, 16-14, but the Gators then score 5 straight to move on top by 7, 21-14 with 9:40 to play. Over the balance of the segment, the Gators assert their control of the game, and lead by 9, 25-16 at the under 8 media timeout. The Cats have the ball when play resumes.
Out of the timeout, Alex Poythress gets the ball deep for a 3 point play to trim the lead to 6, but Florida continues with the blitz of the Cats and moves on top by 13, 35-22 before the Cats use 3 of 4 from the line to trim the lead back to 10 points at the under 4 media timeout with 3:42 remaining in the half, and the Cats in possession. The teams play the final segment on even terms, and the teams head to the locker room with the Gators on top by 10 points, 40-30.
UK scored its 30 points in a total of 33 possessions for the half, and FLORIDA scored its 40 points on a total of 33 possessions. Kentucky won the battle of the boards 21-18, and UK won the offensive glass, 8-6. Kentucky converted its 8 second chance possessions to score 4 second chance points, and FLORIDA used its 6 second chance possession to score 4 second chance points. FLORIDA had an efficiency of 1.091 ppp for its 33 first chance possessions, and 0.667 ppp for its 6-second chance possession. UK had 0.758 ppp on its 33 first chance possessions and 0.500 ppp on its 8 second chance possessions. The Cats managed to grab 40.0% of their misses as offensive rebounds while FLORIDA managed to get 31.6% of their misses for second chance possessions.
UK hit well from the free throw line in this half, making 10-13 [76.9%]. FLORIDA was 6-13 [46.2%] for the half. Field goal shooting for UK was 10-29 overall [34.5%] and 0-5 from long range [0.0%]. For FLORIDA, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was 8-17 [47.1%] and from long range, FLORIDA hit 6-11 [54.5%].
The Cats committed 7 turnovers in the first half FLORIDA committed 5 turnovers in this first half.
Florida opens the second half making their first 3 shots to move on top by a game high 16 points. The Cats responded with a basket by Willie Cauley-Stein and a pair of free throws by James Young to trim the lead to 12 at the under 16 media timeout. After the Cats made their first 3 pointer of the game to trim the lead back to 10, the Gators responded with a run out basket and a 3 pointer to go on top by 15, 52-37 at the under 12 media timeout.
In the third segment, the Cats finally find their shooting eye, and force the Gators into a couple of turnovers to go on a 13-2 run to trim the Gator lead to 4 points, 54-50 with 7:31 remaining in the game, and Donovan takes a timeout. After the timeout, the Cats get another defensive stop, and James Young is fouled at the other end, taking the game to the under 8 media timeout with 6:30 to play in the game.
The Cats make 3 of 4 free throws to trim the lead to a single point, 54-53, but the Gators answer to stop the run with a 3 pointer, and then a driving basket to move back on top by 6, 59-53 with 4:56 to play, prompting Coach Calipari to take a timeout. After the timeout, the Cats miss, the Gators miss, and the teams trade turnovers to the under 4 media timeout with 3:25 remaining in the game. The Cats have the ball, down 6, 59-53. After the timeout, Andrew Harrison makes a pair of free throws, Aaron Harrison drives for a basket, and following a basket by Florida's Patrick Young, James Young makes a 3 pointer to cut the lead to one, 61-60 with just under 2 minutes remaining. The Cats force a turnover, and have a possession to take a lead with 1:06 to play. The Cats can't get the score on two tries, and Florida gets the rebound with 27 seconds to play. Kentucky has 2 fouls to give, and after doing so, Florida goes to the line for the bonus with 20 seconds left. They miss, but get the rebound, and the Cats foul again. Again the Gators miss, and the Cats gets the ball, call a timeout with 14 seconds remaining, down 1, 61-60. The Cats can't get a shot because James Young slips on the floor on his drive, and time expired before anyone could claim the ball.
Cats lose 61-60.
UK scored its 60 points in a total of 63 possessions (0.952 ppp) for the game, and FLORIDA scored its 61 points on a total of 62 possessions (0.984 ppp). Florida won the battle of the boards with a 38-36 advantage, and Florida won the battle of the offensive glass 13-12 Kentucky used its 12 second chance possessions to score 8 second chance points, and FLORIDA converted their 13 offensive rebounds into 10 second chance points. FLORIDA had an offensive efficiency of 0.822 ppp on its 62 first chance possessions and 0.769 ppp for its 13 second chance possessions. UK had 0.825 ppp on its 63 first chance possessions and 0.667 ppp on its 12 second chance possessions. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed 32.4% of its misses as offensive rebounds while FLORIDA was able to convert 35.1%, of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.
UK hit well from the free throw line in this game, making 21-26 [80.8%]. FLORIDA made7-17 [41.2%] for the game. Field goal shooting for UK was 18-51 overall [35.3%] and 3-11 from long range [27.3%]. For FLORIDA, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was 15-34 [44.1%] and from long range, FLORIDA hit 8-19 [42.1%].
The Cats committed 12 turnovers, one for every 5.2 possessions. The Cats forced 13 FLORIDA turnovers, one for every 4.8 possessions.
Next Game On Schedule: The First Round of the NCAA Tournament as the #8 seed in the Midwest Region against the #9 Seed Kansas State.
Submitted by Richard Cheeks
Submitted by Richard Cheeks