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2014-15 Season Analytical Writings
Yes, the Cats did face a highly ranked Kansas team in the third game of the season at the Champions Classic in Indianapolis, but the overall level of competition provided by Texas Arlington, Grand Canyon, Buffalo, Boston, and Montana State is represented by an average Pomeroy rating of 220. The next 7 games will see the level of competition change. The five strongest opponents coming up between now and the end of 2014 have an average Pomeroy rating of 20, with EKU (#137) and Columbia (#128) sandwiched between #8 Texas and #15 UNC.
During the next 4 weeks, the Cats will find out if their early season domination was primarily due to the weakness of their opponents, or whether they will continue to play at a similar high level of efficiency against a steady diet of NCAA Tournament quality teams that include Sunday's opponent, #36 Providence, #8 Texas, #15 UNC, #35 UCLA, and #3 Louisville. Of course, when finals end in mid-December, just prior to the UCLA game, the 2014-15 version of Camp Calipari will begin, and if true to form, this team will elevate its game even more by the time they travel to the Yum Center on December 27.
The focus for Sunday will be the Providence Friars who come to Rupp Arena with an unblemished record through six games. So far, Providence's most impressive early season win as been 1 point over #45 Notre Dame on a neutral court last Sunday. Last season, the Friars posted a 20-10 regular season record, good enough for 3 rd place in the reconstituted Big East. In the Post Season, the Friars beat St. Johns by 5, Seton Hall by 6, and Creighton by 7 to win the Big East Conference Tournament. The Providence season ended in the NCAA Tournament's first round, a 2 point loser to UNC. That was sufficient to end 2014 with a #51 rating, and they enter Rupp Arena on Sunday with a #36 rating.
Providence has played its first six games at an average tempo of 66 to 67 possessions per game, scoring 74.2 ppg (1.108 ppp) and allowing 58.3 ppg (0.879 ppp). The Friars turn the ball over on 18.4% of their possessions and force turnovers 23.1% of the time. The Friars' get an above NCAA D1 average 34.2% of their missed shots back and an average 73.9% of their opponents' missed shots. The Friars' adjusted NGE as of this morning is 0.194 ppp ( 0.118 ppp for 2014).
The Cats will bring their #1 Pomeroy rating through 6 games with an adjusted NGE of 0.457 ppp. This team is playing at an average pace of 70 possessions per game, scoring 82.5 ppg (1.186 ppp) and allowing 45.7 ppg (0.671 ppp). The Cats turn the ball over on 17.2% of their possessions and force turnovers on 26.4% of opponent possessions. The Cats are grabbing an unheard of 48.8% of their own missed shots, and 70.7% of opponent misses.
Vegas has not opened its line as of this writing. Pomeroy sees this game as a 14-point UK advantage, 74-60. The Adjusted NGE comparison places this as a 24 point UK advantage, 77-53 in a game played at a pace of 68 possessions for Providence and 68 possessions for the Cats, with a game NGE of 0..35 ppp. The March towards March in Search of Perfection will continue Sunday afternoon in Rupp Arena.
Coach Calipari continues with the same platoon alignment that he used the first three games. If it “ain't” broke, don't fix it. 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, and get the first basket of the game. However, the Friars came into Rupp ready for the challenge and use early 3-5 shooting, including a 3 pointer to stay within a point of the Cats, 8-7, at the under 16 media timeout. In the second segment, the Friars ride 2-3 shooting, and their second 3 pointer to move on top of the Cats 12-8 at the under 12 media timeout with 11:02 remaining. In the third segment, the Cats trimmed 1 point from the Providence lead to trail 17-14 at the under 8 media timeout with 7:17 remaining.
After the timeout,Karl-Anthony Towns will be shooting a pair of free throws. He made the first and missed the second, and at the other end, Providence makes a pair of free throws to go back on top by 4 points, 19-15. The Cats finally regain a lead when they go on an 8-1 run to a 23-20 lead, and the teams played the remainder of the half on relatively even terms. The Cats lead by 4 at the half, 26-22.
The Cats lead 26-22 at the half in a game played at a pace of 26 possessions (52 full game tempo). The Cats scored its 26 points on 26 possessions (1.000 ppp) and Providence scored 22 points on 26 possessions (0.846 ppp). The Cats shot poorly, making 10-23 (41.7%) overall, and only 0-3 (0.0%) from outside the arc. Providence shot better, making 5-9 (55.5%) inside the arc and 2-6 (33.3%) from outside the arc. From the line, UK made 6-10 (60.0%) while Providence made 6-8 13-12, and the Cats had a 7-3 advantage on the offensive boards. However, Providence won the battle for second chance points, 3-2. The Cats managed to get 43.8% of its misses, while Providence grabbed 33.3% of its misses.
The Cats committed 4 turnovers (15.4%) and forced 10 Providence turnovers (38.5%).
The Cats hold the Friars to 16 points in the second half and win by 20, 58-28 in a game played at a snail's pace of 54 total possessions.
UK scored its 58 points in 64 possessions (1.07 ppp) for the game, and Providence scored its 35 points on a total of 55 possessions 0.69 ppp).
Kentucky won the battle of the boards, with a rebounding edge 33-29, and the Cats won the battle for the offensive rebounds 14-11. The Cats won the second chance points 16-9. Providence had an offensive efficiency of 0.527 ppp on its 55 first chance possessions and 0.818 ppp for its 11 second chance possessions. UK had 0.778 ppp on its 54 first chance possessions and 1.143 ppp on its 14-second chance possessions. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed a strong 43.8% of its misses as offensive rebounds while Providence was able to convert a strong 36.7% of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.
UK hit poorly from the free throw line in this game, making 8-17 [47.1%]. Providence made 13-18 [72.2%] for the game. Field goal shooting for UK was 23-53 overall [45.3%] and 2-7 from long range [28.6%]. For Providence, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was a low 8-27 [29.6%] and from long range, Providence hit 3-12 [25.0%].
The Cats committed 7 turnovers, one for every 7.7 possessions. The Cats forced 18 Providence turnovers, one for every 3.1 possessions.
Next Game On Schedule: Friday afternoon at 7 pm at Rupp Arena against Texas.
Submitted by Richard Cheeks
Submitted by Richard Cheeks