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2013-14 Season Analytical Writings
During the last off season, and even in late October as the 2013-14 college basketball season was poised to unfold, the talk and chatter in basketball circles was whether this assemblage of the greatest recruiting class of all time could do the impossible, and roll through a 40-0 season in route to a national championship. Of course, implicit in that talk was the justification of the pre-season #1 rankings that the experts bestowed upon this team, and the clear expectation that come March, Kentucky would secure one of the precious #1 seeds, if not the #1 seed in the tournament. Well, as well all know all too well now, and have known for a long time, this UK team did not go undefeated, did not secure one of the #1 seeds, and is fighting for its tournament life in the NCAA Round of 32 on Sunday. What a turn of events.
To make the turn of events even more focused, Kentucky's opponent on Sunday, in the round of 32 match up is the #1 seed for the Region assigned to UK by the Selectors, and this opponent currently stands with an unblemished 35-0 record, with potentially 5 more games to play. Potentially, Wichita State could be the biggest “Shockers” of all should it manage to complete the tasks before it, claim its first ever national championship, while posting that “impossible” 40-0 record. The irony is so thick in the lead up to this game that Hollywood script writers could not have sold it to the wealthy movie moguls. Reality is again stranger than fiction.
The chatter coming from the Kentucky Wildcat basketball team over the last 7 days is how they still believe they can “shock” the world with a finish that seemed impossible to con sider just a mere 14 days ago as this team limped home from Gainesville, a 19 point loser to #1 Florida, and the loser of 3 of their last 4 and 4 of their last 7. But, Coach Calipari then announced the “tweak” and his team clearly performed at a higher level in the SEC Tournament in Atlanta before losing by 1 to those very same #1 Florida Gators in the Championship game. Then Coach Calipari announced “tweak” number 2, and his team clearly performed at an even higher level on Friday night against a rugged Kansas State team in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
If these young Wildcats are going to “shock” the world, they will have to beat the undefeated, #1 seeded, Wichita State Shockers on Sunday afternoon. Can they get it done? Yes, they can get it done. Will they get it done? Well, you will simply have to tune into to the game at 2:45 Sunday afternoon and fin d out with the rest of the world, who is waiting to find out if the Shockers will be from Wichita State or the Shockers will be from the University of Kentucky. Friday night, the Wildcats were going to win and the Wildcats were going to lose. Sunday, regardless of the outcome, the true “Shockers” will survive and advance to the NCAA Sweet 16.
Wichita State will bring an overall record of 35-0 overall record into the this Round of 32 encounter with the Kentucky Wildcats. Wichita State's schedule has not been typical of BCS national championship caliber teams, having played 1 non-D1 opponent, and 26 other games against teams with Pomeroy ratings greater than 100. That leaves 8 games season long against top 100 opposition, and of those only 2 have been top 50 teams, #7 Tennessee and #35 St. Louis. Of course, the Shockers beat both, Tennessee by 9 and at St. Louis by 5, both before December was ½ past. Therefore, when the Shockers face #15 Kentucky on Sunday, it will be only the second time this season to face such a highly rated opponent, and the only time the Shockers have done so away from their home court. In addition to Tennessee, the Cats and the Shockers have played one other common opponent, #90 Alabama. WSU beat the Tide by 5 in Tuscaloose and the Cats beat the Tide by 7 at Rupp.
The Shockers' schedule has had a strength of 0.5177 (135 th ). WICHITA STATE has averaged 65 possessions per game, scoring 75.1 ppg (1.148 ppp) and allowing 58.9 ppg (0.902 ppp). WICHITA STATE has turned the ball over on 15.9% of its possessions while forcing turnovers on 18.6 of opponent possessions. On the Boards, WICHITA STATE has secured an offensive rebounding rate of 35.5% about 6.5% above the 29% NCAA average, and a defensive rebounding rate of 74.3%, about 5% above the NCAA average.
In contrast, the Cats have averaged 68 possessions per game, producing 75.3 ppg (1.105 ppp) and allowing 66.1 ppg (0.975 ppp). The Cats have committed turnovers on 18.0% of its possessions and forced turnovers on 16.2% of opponent possessions. On the Boards, the Cats' rebounding rates have been 42.2% and 70.2% on the offensive and defensive ends against a schedule strength of 0.7065 (#9).
Based on this distribution, the analysis tips in favor of Wichita State by 3 points, 70-67 in a game played at a pace of 67 possessions for the Cats and 67 possessions for WICHITA STATE. Pomeroy has this game in Wichita State's favor by 4 points, 69-65 in a game played at a pace of 64 possessions.
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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. Despite having a hyper-extended elbow late in the Kansas State game, Andrew Harrison is prepared to give it the old college try and play in this most important game of his young career.
WSU controls the opening tip, but miss their first 3 shot attempts and Aaron Harrison makes a pair of baskets on his first two shots to lift the Cats on top 4-0, but the Shockers answer with a 3 pointer and a basket to go on top 5-4. Aaron Harrison answers, but Lafile scores his second basket at the under 16 media timeout to lift WSU on top 6-5, and Lafile will have a free throw to complete the 3 point play after the timeout. He missed. Alex Poythress gets a put back basket, but WSU answers with their second 3 pointer. After the Cats have a shot clock violation, WSU moves on top 8-5. However, the Cats respond with two baskets and two 3 pointers to move on top by 3, 16-13 at the under 12 media timeout and WSU has possession.
In the third segment, the Cats' 3 rd 3 pointer lifted the Cats up by 4, 19-15, but WSU answered with a 3 pointer of their own, and then on back to back possession, UK turnovers produced 4 more WSU points, lifting them to a 3 point lead, 22-19, prompting Coach Calipari to take a timeout. Young stops the WSU run with a jump shot in the lane, but WSU quickly answers with a floater in the lane to lead 24-21 at the under 8 media timeout and the Cats have the ball. In the fourth segment, the Cats go cold, making only 1 of 4 shots, while WSU makes 3 for 3 to run on top by 7, 30-23 forcing Coach Calipari to take his second timeout of the first half. After the timeout, the Cats commit back to back turnovers on offensive fouls on Randle and Andrew Harrison, and WSU extends its lead to 9 points, 32-23 before Alex Poythress is able to get another basket for the Cats to trim the lead to 7, 32-25 at the under 4 media timeout with 3:12 left in the first half and the Cats in possession.
Since the Cats lead by 4, 19-15, WSU has gone on a 17-4 run that the Cats hopefully stopped with the last Alex Poythress basket and back to back defensive stops. After the timeout, Willie Cauley-Stein got a dunk and was fouled. Willie Cauley-Stein will shoot the first free throw for the Cats today, and he missed. The WSU Shockers maintain their lead at 9 points, 37-28 but Young makes a 3 pointer to close out the first half scoring with the Cats down by 6, 37-31.
UK scored its 31 points on 29 possessions for the half, and WICHITA STATE scored its 37 points on 30 possessions. Kentucky won the battle of the boards 14-10, and UK won the offensive glass, 4-1. Kentucky converted its 4 second chance possessions to score 5 second chance points, and WICHITA STATE used its 1 second chance possession to score 0 second chance points. WICHITA STATE had an efficiency of 1.233 ppp for its 30 first chance possessions, and 0.000 ppp for its 1-second chance possession. UK had 0.897 ppp on its 29 first chance possessions and 1.250 ppp on its 4 second chance possessions. The Cats managed to grab 30.8% of their misses as offensive rebounds while WICHITA STATE managed to get 9.1% of their misses for second chance possessions.
UK hit poorly from the free throw line in this half, making 1-3 [33.3]. WICHITA STATE was 8-9 [88.9%] for the half. Field goal shooting for UK was 13-24 overall [54.2%] and 4-10 from long range [40.0%]. For WICHITA STATE, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was 10-16 [62.5%] and from long range, WICHITA STATE hit 3-8 [37.5%].
The Cats committed 8 turnovers in the first half, one for each 3.6 possessions. WICHITA STATE committed 4 turnovers in this first half, one for each 7.5 possessions.
Coach Calipari starts Willie Cauley-Stein instead of Johnson in the second half. Wichita State opens the second half with a 3 pointer to reestablish their 9 point lead. However, a three pointer by Aaron Harrison, and second chance baskets by Randle on back to back possessions, with a the second being a 3 point play, cuts the lead to 1 point, 40-39. Then, VanVleet is called for charging, but the Cats give the ball right back on a baseline infraction on the inbounds play. After the Shockers miss a pair of free throws, Alex Poythress makes a driving layup to put the Cats on top for the first time since 19-18 in the first half. The Teams traded baskets to the delayed end of the first segment to a 46-45 Shocker lead at the under 16 media timeout with 14:46 remaining. The Shockers have the ball to start the next segment.
Out of the timeout, the Shockers could not get the ball in bounds, and the Cats get the ball on the turnover. However, the Cats turn the ball right back to the Shockers. The teams trade baskets until a 3 pointer by Aaron Harrison and a driving basket by Randle at the end of the segment lifted the Cats up by 3 points at the under 12 media timeout. After the timeout, Randle will have one free throw in an attempt to complete the three point play. Randle makes his free throw, but WSU answers with a 3 pointer at the other end. In the third segment, the Shockers use 4 for 5 shooting and takes advantage of UK's 1 for 4 shooting and one turnover to move back on top by 3 with a 9-2 run, 58-55 forcing Coach Calipari to take another timeout. Out of the timeout, the Cats work for a lob to Alex Poythress, but Alex Poythress can't handle the pass, and the Cats turn the ball over to the Shockers for the 11 th time today. The Cats get a defensive stop and WSU fouls Andrew Harrison on his drive to the basket at the under 8 media timeout. After the timeout, Andrew will shoot a pair of free throws with the Cats down 3, 58-55.
In the fourth segment, the teams traded baskets with WSU maintaining their lead between 5 and 2 points. The segment ended with a foul on Andrew Harrison with 3:54 to play, the Cats down by 4, 69-65, and Andrew will have two free throws after the timeout. He makes them both to trim the lead to 2 points. The Shockers turn the ball over, and Randle gets an offensive rebound and is fouled. When Randle makes them both, the score is tied at 69-69, but he missed the second, 69-68. The Cats get a stop and score to take a 1 point lead, 70-69. WSU answers with a basket to go back on top by 71-70, but James Young makes a contested 3 pointer to give the Cats a 2 point lead, 73-71. After another WSU miss, Andrew Harrison is fouled with 42.6 seconds remaining. WSU takes a timeout to let Andrew Harrison think about his free throw opportunities. Andrew makes the first, and the second to move on top by 4 points, 75-71. WSU answers with another 3 pointer to cut the Cats' lead to 1 point, 75-74 with 29.3 seconds left, as WSU takes another timeout to set up their full court pressure. WSU has the possession arrow. WSU fouls Randle with 22.5 remaining. Randle makes the first, and Randle makes the second for a 3 point lead. WSU misses but they get the offensive rebound and are fouled. After making both, the Cats get the ball back with 9.8 seconds left with a one point lead, 77-76. The Shockers foul Andrew Harrison with 7.2 seconds left. Andrew makes the first, and Andrew he missed the second. WSU takes a timeout with 3.0 seconds remaining to plan their last shot trailing the Cats 78-76. When WSU breaks the huddle and takes the floor for the final play, Coach Calipari takes his next to last timeout. They miss their last 3 point attempt, Cats win 78-76, and the Cats advance to the Sweet 16 where they will take on the Louisville Cardinals in Indianapolis.
Kentucky is the only team to stop two unbeaten teams in the NCAA Tournament. The first was in 1975 when they turned the trick against #1 Indiana in the Mideast Regional Championship game, and the second occurred on March 23, 2014 against #2 Wichita State, and the Cats prove to be the real “Shockers” on this day.
UK scored its 78 points in a total of 60 possessions (1.300 ppp) for the game, and WICHITA STATE scored its 76 points on a total of 61 possessions (1.246 ppp). Kentucky won the battle of the boards with a 32-23 advantage, and Kentucky won the battle of the offensive glass 10-4 Kentucky used its 10 second chance possessions to score 16 second chance points, and WICHITA STATE converted their 4 offensive rebounds into 5 second chance points. WICHITA STATE had an offensive efficiency of 1.164 ppp on its 60 first chance possessions and 1.250 ppp for its 4 second chance possessions. UK had 1.033 ppp on its 60 first chance possessions and 1.600 ppp on its 10 second chance possessions. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed 34.5% of its misses as offensive rebounds while WICHITA STATE was able to convert 15.4%, of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.
UK hit very well from the free throw line after a shaky start in this game, making 16-22 [72.7%]. WICHITA STATE made 12-18 [66.7%] for the game. Field goal shooting for UK was 27-50 overall [54.0%] and 8-18 from long range [44.4%]. For WICHITA STATE, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was 17-28 [60.7%] and from long range, WICHITA STATE hit 10-21 [47.6%].
The Cats committed 11 turnovers, one for every 5.5 possessions. The Cats forced 9 WICHITA STATE turnovers, one for every 6.8 possessions.
Next Game On Schedule: The Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA Tournament as the #8 seed in the Midwest Region against the #4 Seed Louisville Cardinals on Friday night, March 28, 2014.
Submitted by Richard Cheeks
Submitted by Richard Cheeks