2014-15 Season Analytical Writings

Cats Continue Season Opening Blitz

This is November 25, and on November 13, this UK team had not played a single real game. Tonight, they will play their sixth game of this season in only 11 days. The Cats will be the first team to play 6 games this season among the top programs, but Duke is only one day behind the pace to their sixth, and before the Cats take the floor next Sunday for game 7, several teams will have 6 games in the books. That is 1/5 of the regular season in a matter of 2 weeks, and at that pace, the teams could complete their 31 game regular season by mid-January.

For teams struggling to define their identity and to hit their stride on the court, the blitz of early games can be frustrating because there is not much time to practice between opponents to iron out the wrinkles and fix certain defensive issues. But, for a team like this UK team that has clearly hit the ground in a full sprint this season, the paucity of practice time is not necessarily a negative factor, and their advanced form of defense can overwhelm opponents who have been spending more time on planes and buses than on the practice court.

Perhaps this explains the absolutely insane early season defensive efficiency that this group of Wildcats have posted against their first 5 opponents. Consider these numbers. The best season long defensive efficiency by a UK team during the Calipari Era was the 2012 Championship team with a raw defensive efficiency of 0.914 ppp, following by Calipari's first UK team in 20110 at 0.917 ppp. This team is currently playing basketball through 5 games with a defensive efficiency of 0.680 ppp.

In these first five games, the highest defensive efficiency managed by any opponent has been 0.876 ppp by Boston University, and the other four opponents could not break the 0.800 ppp threshold. . In the last game against an admittedly outmanned opponent Montana State, the Bobcats could not break the 0.400 ppp barrier. Tonight, this UK team could post their 5 th game defensive performance under 0.800 ppp in its first 6 games

During 2013-14, the Cats had one game with a game defensive efficiency under 0.8 ppp. In 2012-13, there were seven such defensive performances. The 2011-12 Champions had nine with the fifth stingiest defense in the NCAA. The 2010-11 Cats did it five times with a top 15 defensive unit. The 2009-10 team was the 5 th best defense in the county that season, and that team held its opponents under 0.8 ppp for a game 6 times. These accomplishments were note worthy each time it occurred. These accomplishments by the 2010 and 2012 teams were still sufficient to draw commentary even though most regarded those UK teams as great defensive basketball teams.

Defensively, this set of Wildcats are off the scale. It limited Grand Canyon to 0.664 ppp while Grand Canyon's offense has averaged 0.962 ppp this season (69%). For Buffalo, it is 0.782 ppp against a 0.989 ppp offense (79%). Kansas, 0.660 ppp v 1.080 ppp (61%). Boston University: 0.876 ppp v 0.996 ppp (87%). Montana State: 0.398 ppp v 0.899 ppp (44%).

That is why this UK team is “scary good.”

Tonight, Texas Arlington is next in line to place their basketball team in front of this buzz saw.

The Mavericks enter Rupp Arena tonight with an early season 3-1 record, including a 2-point win at #252 Grand Canyon and a 6-point loss to #140 Buffalo. Last year, the Mavericks finished 15-17, in 5 th place of the 10 team Sun Belt Conference. The Mavericks lost to Kentucky last year at their place by 29 points, 105-76. UTA finished 2014 as the 215 th rated team against a schedule strength of 0.4917 (160 th ). This season, the Mavericks bring a #208 Pomeroy rating into this game, and their early season schedule strength has been 0.3208 (#291).

UT Arlington has played its first three games at a tempo of 75 possessions, scoring 74.1 ppg (0.985 ppp) and allowing 74.3 ppg (0.978 ppp). The Mavericks turn the ball over on 21.4% of their possessions and force turnovers 19.6% of the time. The Mavericks' get a NCAA D1 average 31.9% of their missed shots back and an average 69.6% of their opponents' missed shots. The Mavericks' adjusted NGE as of this morning is -0.008 ppp ( -0.023 ppp for 2014).

The Cats will bring their #1 Pomeroy rating through 5 games of with an adjusted NGE of 0.443 ppp. This team is playing at an average pace of 68 to 69 possessions per game, scoring 80.6 ppg (1.168 ppp) and allowing 46.0 ppg (0.678 ppp). The Cats turn the ball over on 15.7% of their possessions and force turnovers on 27.1% of opponent possessions. The Cats are grabbing an unheard of 48.3% of their own missed shots, and 71.0% of opponent misses.

The Cats are 31-point favorites in Vegas, and Pomeroy sees this game as a 27-point UK advantage. The Adjusted NGE comparison places this as a 39 point UK advantage, 88-49 in a game played at a pace of 72 possessions for UT Arlington and 72 possessions for the Cats, with a game NGE of 0..46 ppp. The March towards March in Search of Perfection will continue tonight in Rupp Arena.

Game Summary:

Coach Calipari continues with the same platoon alignment he used the first three games. If it “ain't” broke, don't fix it. Alex Poythress returns to action after his illness cost him time in the last two games, which moves Dominque Hawkins back into his reserve role. Platoon 1 consists of Willie Cauley-Stein, Karl-Anthony Towns, Alex Poythress, Aaron Harrison, and Andrew Harrison. Platoon 2 consists of Trey Lyles, Dakari Johnson, Marcus Lee, Devin Booker, and Tyler Ulis. Derek Willis, and E. J. Floreal will provide reserve help for either platoon should injury or fouls become an issue during the game.

The Cats control the opening tip, score the first basket. After UTA takes a brief 3-2 lead on a 3 pointer, but the Cats close the opening segment with an 8-3 lead. When the second platoon turns the ball over on its first 3 possessions, Coach Calipari brings the first platoon back into the game with 14:30 remaining. The first Platoon picks up where they left off at the end of the opening segment, and extend the lead to 18-7 at the under 12 media timeout with 11:42 remaining in the first half.

In the third segment, the first platoon continues to a 25-10 lead before Coach Calipari lets the second platoon back in the game with 9:30 remaining. Over the balance of the third segment, the second platoon fails to score, and commits another turnover, their 4 th and the 5 th for the team in the full game overall. At the under 8 media timeout, Coach Calipari made it clear to the second platoon that if they want to play the rest of this game, they need to get it done in the next 4 minutes.

The white platoon answered their coach's call, outscoring the Mavericks 11-2 before Coach Calipari sends the first platoon back on to the floor with 5:05 remaining. The Cats play the final 5 minutes with complete domination and a 55-12 halftime lead.

The Cats lead 55-12 at the half in a game played at a pace of 38 possessions (76 full game tempo). The Cats scored its 55 points on 39 possessions (1.410 ppp) and UT Arlington scored 12 points on 38 possessions (0.316 ppp). The Cats shot very well. Making 19-31 (61.3%) overall, and only 6-13 (46.2%) from outside the arc. UT Arlington shot poorly 2 of 20 (10.0%) inside the arc and 2-12 (16.7%) from outside the arc. From the line, UK made 11-13 (84.6%) while UT Arlington made 2 of 5 attempts (40.0%).

The Cats controlled the Boards, but just barely, 26-14, but UT Arlington won the battle of the offensive glass 6-8. However, the Cats used their offensive rebounds to gain a 9-4 advantage in second chance points. The Cats managed to get only 50.0% of its misses, while UT Arlington grabbed 28.6% of its misses.

The Cats committed 9 turnover (23.1%) and forced 11 UT Arlington turnovers (28.9%).

Second Half:

In the opening segment of the second half, UTA cuts the lead by 4 points by outscoring the Cats 9-5 on only 5 possessions. In the second segment, the Cats added 1 point back to the lead, outscoring UTA 8-7 on 8 possessions. In the third segment, the Cats add 2 p oints to the lead, out scoring UTA 10-8 on 8 possessions. Cats win 92-44.


UK scored its 92 points in 70 possessions (1.31 ppp) for the game, and UT Arlington scored its 44 points on a total of 70 possessions 0.63 ppp).

Kentucky won the battle of the boards, with a rebounding edge 49-29, and the Cats and Mavericks each got 15 offensive rebounds. The Cats won the second chance points 12-10. UT Arlington had an offensive efficiency of 0.486 ppp on its 70 first chance possessions and 0.667 ppp for its 15 second chance possessions. UK had 1.143 ppp on its 70 first chance possessions and 0.800 ppp on its 15 second chance possessions. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed a high 51.7% of its misses as offensive rebounds while UT Arlington was able to convert a strong 30.6% of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.

UK hit well from the free throw line in this game, making 24-33 [72.7%]. UT Arlington made 6-11 [54.5%] for the game. Field goal shooting for UK was 30-53 overall [56.6%] and 8-18 from long range [44.4%]. For UT Arlington , their field goal shooting from inside the arc was a low 13-43 [31.0%] and from long range, UT Arlington hit 4-21 [19.0%].

The Cats committed 18 turnovers, one for every 3.9 possessions. The Cats forced 16 UT Arlington turnovers, one for every 4.4 possessions.

Next Game On Schedule: Sunday afternoon at 2 pm at Rupp Arena against Providence.

Submitted by Richard Cheeks


Submitted by Richard Cheeks


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