2014-15 Season Analytical Writings

Cats Travel To Chicago As Final Exams End To Take On UCLA

Last Saturday, the two blue-blooded programs of college basketball collided again in Rupp Arena. After two early tie scores, the Cats used a 12-2 run to move on top by 10 points with 13:42 remaining in the first half, and the teams played the game to its conclusion to simply determine the final UK margin of victory, that was 14 points. In route to a rather routine victory, the 11 th consecutive in double digits to begin this season, the Cats broke out of their 3 game 3 point shooting slump, making 7 of 15 for the game, including 6 for 12 in the first half which the Cats used to establish their dominance and a 15 point halftime lead.

Dominance is a curious expression to apply to any UK-UCLA basketball game, but in this case, the Cats did just that, despite an effort by UCLA in this game that was one of their strongest efforts of this season. But, dominance is what this UK team has established in each of its 11 games. I do not expect that relationship to change as the Cats prepare to travel to Chicago this Friday evening to face the UCLA Bruins. The Wildcats will celebrate the official end of the Fall Semester with the completion of their final exams with another display of their dominance on this next Saturday afternoon against the current version of the only program to lay claim to more NCAA Championships than Kentucky.

These programs claim 19 NCAA Championships between them, and as all UK fans can recite, UCLA is the program with 11 of those. These programs have collided 10 times. The Cats hold an overall 6-4 advantage. They have played twice in the NCAA tournament, with each team getting a victory, but it is UCLA that claims the most important prize from their 10 head to head encounters. In 1975, the played for the NCAA Championship, and UCLA Coach John Wooden announced his retirement on the eve of the game. Coach Wooden's Bruin teams had won nine NCAA Championships in the 11 seasons prior to the 1975 season.

The Bruins delivered Coach Wooden his 10 th championship in 12 years, and the Cats returned to Lexington with the four that Coach Rupp had delivered to Kentucky between 1948 and 1958. Since that encounter, the teams have played 6 times, splitting the games. The programs last met in Honolulu with the Cats on the short end of a 73-68 score. In the nearly 40 years since the Historic 1975 NCAA Championship game, the Cats have seized 4 more and the Bruins 1 more, producing the current 11-8 advantage.

The Bruins will arrive in Chicago with eight wins in eleven games, losing to #15 Oklahoma by 10, #16 UNC by 22, and to #8 Gonzaga by 13 in Pauley Pavilion. To date, UCLA's most impressive win has been by 7 over #84 San Diego. The only common opponent thus far has been UNC, with the Cats claiming a 14 point home win while the Bruins lost by 22 on a Neutral Court.

UCLA has played its first seven games at a pace of about 74 to 73 possessions per game while scoring 80.8 ppg (1.097 ppp) and allowing 71.0 ppg (0.976 ppp) against an early season schedule strength of 0.4795 (#230). The Bruins turn the ball over on 17.4% of their possessions and force turnovers 18.4% of the time. UCLA retrieves 36.3% of their missed shots and 71.7% of their opponents' missed shots. The Bruins' adjusted NGE as of this morning is 0.112 ppp.

The Cats will bring their #1 Pomeroy rating through eleven games with an adjusted NGE of 0.408 ppp. This team is playing at an average pace of 66 possessions per game, scoring 76.2 ppg (1.144ppp) and allowing 48.0 ppg (0.732 ppp). The Cats turn the ball over on 16.8% of their possessions and force turnovers on 26.2% of opponent possessions. The Cats are grabbing an unheard of 46.3% of their own missed shots, and 66.9% of opponent misses.

Vegas has not opened for this game as of this writing, and Pomeroy sees this game as a 13-point UK advantage, 77-64. The Adjusted NGE comparison places this as a 20-point UK advantage, 79-59 in a game played at a pace of 70 possessions for UCLA and 70 possessions for the Cats, with a game NGE of 0.29 ppp. The March towards March in Search of Perfection will continue Saturday afternoon in Rupp Arena.

Game Summary:

The starting players for the UCLA game are Willie Cauley-Stein, Karl-Anthony Towns, Trey Lyles, Aaron Harrison, and Andrew Harrison. Platoon 2 consists of Dakari Johnson, Marcus Lee, Devin Booker, and Tyler Ulis, Coach Calipari has said he will leave one player from the starting five in the game rather than insert Derek Willis into the initial platoon rotation. That leaves Derek Willis, Dominique Hawkins and E. J. Floreal to provide deep reserve help should the game require Coach Calipari to go to his 10 th , 11 th or 12 th players.

The Cats win the opening tip, and Aaron Harrison drains a 3 pointer to open the scoring. After 2 UCLA misses and a UCLA turnover, the Cats hit 2 of their next 3 shots to race out to an early 7-0 lead. Coach Alford called a timeout with 18:25 remaining. The Bruins turn the ball over for the second time, leading to a Willie Cauley-Stein basket, and another UK steal sends Lyles to the line for a pair of free throws. Before the teams can reach the under 16 media timeout, the Cats continue to pitch a shutout while hitting 6 of 9 shots, rebounding 2 of their 3 misses on their way to a 16-0 lead, and UCLA's second timeout of the first 3+ minutes. After the timeout, UCLA misses again, but the Cats are not able to advance the lead beyond 16 as they turn the ball over for the first time. The Cats maintain the 16-0 lead at the under 16 media timeout, and UCLA in possesison.

In the playing time lottery, Aaron Harrison gets the extra minutes as the second platoon takes the floor. Before the Bruins could reach the under 12 media timeout, the Cats continue their complete dominance, extending the lead to 24-0 and forcing UCLA to take his 3 rd timeout. At the under 12 media timeout, the Cats lead remains 24 points, 26-2 with 11:19 remaining and UCLA in possession. Over the next 4 minutes, the Cats' defense continues to confound UCLA, but the Cats could only add two points to their own total, extending the lead to 26, 28-2 at the under 8 media timeout with 7:41 remaining in the first half.

In an extended 4 th segment, the Cats outscored the Bruins 11-5 to lead 39-7 at the under 4 media timeout with 2:18 remaining in the half. The Cats take a 34 point lead, 41-7, to the locker room for the half.

The first half was played at a pace of 34 possessions (68 full game pace). The Cats scored its 41 points on 34 possessions (1.21 ppp) and UCLA scored 7 points on 34 possessions (0.21 ppp). The Cats shot well in the first half making 16-34 (47.1%) overall and 6-13 (46.2%) from outside the arc. UCLA shot extremely poorly for the half, making 3-29 (10.3%) inside the arc, but the Bruins were 0-8 (0.0%) shooting the ball from outside the arc. From the line, UK made 3-4 (75.0%) while UCLA made 1-2 (50.0%). Kentucky won the battle of the boards in the first half, out rebounding UCLA 30-24 overall. However, UCLA managed to grab 12 offensive rebounds to only 7 for the Cats. Nevertheless, the Cats hold a 4-2 advantage in second chance points at the end of the first half. The Cats managed to get only 36.8% of its misses, while UCLA grabbed 34.3% of its misses.

The Cats committed 5 turnovers (14.7%) and forced 8 UCLA turnovers (23.5%).

7 points in a half is the fewest by a Kentucky opponent since 1943.

Second Half:

In the opening segment of the second half, UCLA matches their 7 first half points with 7 points in the first 4 minutes, but the Cats scored 8 to extend the lead to 35 points, 49-14 with Marcus Lee set for a pair of free throws after the under 16 media timeout with 15:59 remaining in the game. In the second segment, the Cats continue to extend their lead, now at 41 points, 61-20, at the under 12 media timeout with 10:25 remaining in the game.

In the third segment, UCLA adds 4 points to their total but the Cats add 6 to extend the lead to 43 points, 67-24 at the under 8 media timeout. The Cats will have the ball after the timeout. At the under 4 media timeout, the Cats have the ball with a 42 point lead, 79-37 and 3:09 remaining in this game. With 1:29 to play, Coach Calipari empties his bench leading 83-40. The final score is 83-42.


UK scored its 83 points in 69 possessions (1.20 ppp) for the game, and UCLA scored its 42 points on a total of 68 possessions (0.62 ppp).

Kentucky won the battle of the boards, with a rebounding edge 48-44, but the Bruins won the battle for the offensive rebounds 20-13. The Cats won the second chance points 12-4. UCLA had an offensive efficiency of 0.559 ppp on its 68 first chance possessions and 0.200 ppp for its 20 second chance possessions. UK had 1.029 ppp on its 69 first chance possessions and 0.923ppp on its 13-second chance possessions. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed a strong 35.1% of its misses as offensive rebounds while UCLA was able to convert 36.4% of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.

UK hit poorly from the free throw line in this game, making 7-12 [58.3%]. UCLA made 1-4 [25.0%] for the game. Field goal shooting for UK was 32-64 overall [50.0%] and 12-26 from long range [46.2%]. For UCLA, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was a weak 13-55 [23.6%] and from long range, UCLA hit 5-16 [31.3%].

The Cats committed 12 turnovers, one for every 5.8 possessions. The Cats forced 15 UCLA turnovers, one for every 4.5 possessions.

Next Game On Schedule: Saturday afternoon at 2:00 pm at the YUM Center against Louisville.

Submitted by Richard Cheeks


Submitted by Richard Cheeks



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