BIG BLUE FANS FOR
2014-15 Season Analytical Writings
The Calendar has turned a page, good-bye 2014 and welcome 2015. The Cats enter the New Year with an unblemished 13-0 record by virtue of their 8-point win at Louisville over a week ago. The number of unbeaten teams has dwindled over the last few days and only three remain standing. Duke and Virginia join the Cats as the only remaining unbeaten teams. Ken Pomeroy says today that this UK team has a 1 in 4 chance to win all 18 of their SEC games to finish the regular season unbeaten.
Going through a season without a loss is so rare the annuals of Kentucky basketball only include one such season, 1953-54's 25-0 mark. However, the Cats have won 45 of the 92 SEC Championships. Winning SEC Championships have been so routine for Kentucky that many of the BBN believe SEC Championships are a Big Blue Birthright. The Cats start the 2015 SEC season as a prohibitive favorite to win the program's 46 th SEC championship. If they do, the Championship will be the program's first SEC championship since the 2012 team ran the regular season table without a loss. A repeat of the 2012 team's 18-0 SEC Championship march must be the goal as the 2015 season prepares to unfold.
Unlike the non-conference schedule that allowed the Cats to play 10 of their 13 games at Rupp Arena, and only 1 game on the opponent's home floor, the SEC season requires 9 games on the road to balance the 9 games at Rupp. The first SEC encounter will be at Rupp when Mississippi comes to town this week for a Tuesday night encounter.
The Cats and Rebels do not have a common opponent leading into this game. The Rebels have finished their non-conference schedule with a 9-4 record. The Rebels' best wins have been by 12 over #42 Cincinnati on a neutral court, and by 6 at #64 Oregon. Mississippi's most perplexing loss was by 1 in OT to #222 Charleston Southern in the first game of the season. Mississippi's non-conference schedule has a strength of 0.4892 #208.
MISSISSIPPI has played its first 13 games at an average tempo of about 68 possessions per game, scoring 73.5 ppg (1.075 ppp) and allowing an average 64.9 ppg (0.949 ppp). MISSISSIPPI has turned the ball over on 18.1% of its possessions while forcing turnovers on 19.6% of opponent possessions. On the Boards, MISSISSIPPI has secured an offensive rebounding rate of 35.3%, and a defensive rebounding rate of 68.4%.
In contrast, the Cats have averaged about 65 to 66 possessions per game, producing 75.3 ppg (1.14 ppp) and allowing 47.8 ppg (0.73 ppp). The Cats have committed turnovers on 17.8% of its possessions and forced turnovers on 25.0% of opponent possessions. On the Boards, the Cats' rebounding rates have been 46.0% and 66.0% on the offensive and defensive ends. The Cats' non-conference schedule has a strength of 0.5912 (#62).
Based on this distribution, the analysis tips in favor of KENTUCKY by 27 points, 79-52 in a game played at a pace of 67 possessions for the Cats and 67 possessions for MISSISSIPPI. Pomeroy figures the Game in Kentucky's favor by 21 points, 77-56 at a pace of 65 possessions. The March towards March in Search of Perfection will continue Tuesday evening at Rupp Arena against Mississippi.
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The starting players for the MISSISSIPPI 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 control the opening tip, and take the ball immediately to the post to Karl-Anthony Towns, who scores. After two Ole Miss missed shots and one turnover, the Cats hit 2 three pointers and a put back basket to sprint out to a 10-0 lead, forcing Miss. To take a timeout after only 2 minutes. After the timeout, the Cats tag another bucket to their 10-0 start before the Rebels score to make it 12-2. Aaron Harrison makes back to back 3 pointers, his second and third in the game, and lead 18-7 at the under 16 media timeout. In the first segment, the Cats scored 18 points on only 8 possessions, but the allowed Mississippi to score 7 points on 7 possessions, not the type of defense that UK has been playing. After the timeout, the Rebels score 8 quick points on just 3 possessions to cut the lead to 18-15 with 14:30 remaining, and Coach Calipari takes a timeout and brings the first platoon back to the floor.
Over the balance of the second segment, the Cats ease back on top by 6, 23-17 at the under 12 media timeout and Cats in possession. In the third segment, it is Ole Miss' defense that shines, holding the Cats to just 2 points and trimming the lead to 1 point, 25-24 at the under 8 media timeout. Coach Calipari is as upset with his team as he has been all season. After the timeout, Karl-Anthony Towns missed the first of 2 free throws, and Moody makes back to back 3pointers to lift the Rebels to a 4 point lead, 26-30, forcing Coach Calipari to call another timeout with 7:01 remaining. Over the balance of the segment, Mississippi stretches their lead to 6 points, 30-36 at the under 4 media timeout. When play resumes, Aaron Harrison will have a pair of free throws. The Cats go to the locker room trailing by 2 points, 36-38.
The first half was played at a pace of 34 to 35 possessions (68 to 70 game pace). The Cats scored its 36 points on 35 possessions (1.03 ppp) and MISSISSIPPI scored 38 points on 34 possessions (1.12 ppp). The Cats shot poorly in the first half making 11-31 (35.5%) overall and 6-10 (60.0%) from outside the arc. MISSISSIPPI shot extremely well for the half, making 11-24 (45.8%) inside the arc, and the Rebels were 5-8 (62.5%) shooting the ball from outside the arc. From the line, UK made 8-12 (66.7%) while MISSISSIPPI made 1-1(100.0%). Kentucky won the battle of the boards in the first half, out rebounding MISSISSIPPI 19-18 overall. Kentucky also managed to grab 8 offensive rebounds to only 5 for the Rebels. However, the Rebels hold a 6-2 advantage in second chance points at the end of the first half. The Cats managed to get 38.1% of its misses, while MISSISSIPPI grabbed 31.3% of its misses.
The Cats committed 4 turnovers (11.4%) and forced 7 MISSISSIPPI turnovers (20.6%).
The Cats open the second half with a move to the paint to Willie Cauley-Stein, and following a Mississippi turnover, Devin Booker hit his second 3 pointer of the game to lift the Cats back into the lead. When Ole Miss commits its second straight turnover, they take a timeout to refocus their players after only 35 seconds. After the timeout, the Cats and Rebels traded baskets to a 4 point UK lead, 51-47, at the under 16 media timeout. In the second segment, Ole Miss continues to hand tight, as the Cats hang on to a 2 point lead, 55-53 at the under 12 media timeout. In the third segment, the Rebels use 6 for 6 free throw shooting to move back into the lead by 2, 59-61. Trey Lyles will be shooting a pair of free throws after the under 8 media timeout. At the under 5 media timeout, the Cats are clinging to a 3 point lead, 74-71, and have the ball with 3:50 remaining in the game. The Cats ease out to a 5 point lead, 75-70, but miss 5 of 8 free throw attempts to allow Ole Miss to take the lead, 77-76, and Andrew Harrison managed to make his last free throw to tie the score and send the game to Overtime, tied at 77-77.
The Rebels controls the overtime tap, and score first. Kentucky answers when Devin Booker puts an offensive rebound back in the basket. Ole Miss eases back on top by 1 point. Moody, their leading scorer in the game was fouled on a 3 point attempt, but cramps force him to leave the game, and the player selected by UK to shoot Moody's 3 free throws only made 1 of the 3. The Cats survive in Overtime, 89-86.
UK scored its 89 points in 75 possessions (1.19 ppp) for the game, and MISSISSIPPI scored its 86 points on a total of 77 possessions (1.12 ppp).
Kentucky won the battle of the boards, with a rebounding edge 34-32, and the Cats won the battle for the offensive rebounds 16-10. The Cats won the second chance points 16-11. MISSISSIPPI had an offensive efficiency of 0.974 ppp on its 77 first chance possessions and 1.100 ppp for its 10 second chance possessions. UK had 0..973 ppp on its 75 first chance possessions and 1.000 ppp on its 16-second chance possessions. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed a strong 42.1% of its misses as offensive rebounds while MISSISSIPPI was able to convert 35.7% of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.
UK hit well from the free throw line in this game, making 28-40 [70.0%]. MISSISSIPPI made 19-22 [86.4%] for the game. Field goal shooting for UK was 25-60 overall [41.7%] and 11-20 from long range [55.0%]. For MISSISSIPPI, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was a strong 20-42 [47.6%] and from long range, MISSISSIPPI hit 9-17 [52.9%].
The Cats committed 10 turnovers, one for every 7.5 possessions. The Cats forced 18 MISSISSIPPI turnovers, one for every 4.3 possessions.
Next Game On Schedule: Saturday afternoon, January 10, 2015 against Texas A&M in the second SEC game of the 2015 season at Texas A&M.
Submitted by Richard Cheeks
Submitted by Richard Cheeks