2014-15 Season Analytical Writings

Cats Return To Form; Remain Unbeaten

After the Cats gave the Crimson Tide a 22 point beat down in Tuscaloosa on Saturday, Willie Cauley-Stein in a post game appearance may have said more than his coach would have preferred, but Willie clearly spoke the truth. Willie observed that when the Cats took the floor early in the season, the players shared a goal of shutting an opponent out in the scoring column. Then he observed that the team strayed momentarily from that mission, but the energy is back, and now the mission is to demoralize the opponent.

Truer words could not be spoken. These Cats, when they play with the energy level they put on display this past Tuesday, and on Saturday afternoon, any opponent is likely to be demoralized. It happened to Kansas way back in November. It happened to UCLA in late December. Now it has happened to Missouri and to Alabama. During the non-conference part of the schedule, the defense was nothing short of spectacular, but most observers agreed the offense was not hitting on many of its available cylinders. Those same observers often remarked that when the Cats hit their offensive stride, the combination of a highly efficient offense with the monster of a defense that can dream of basketball shutouts, would be completely dominating; demoralizing.

On Saturday, the Cats scored 70 points. In most scenarios, that would be nothing to write home about offensively, but when a game only contains 55 total possessions, 70 points is the product of a well-oiled offense. The defense held an opponent under 20 points in a half for the third consecutive half on Saturday, an accomplishment not achieved before this season.

The Cats and Commodores have not played a common opponent this season. The Commodores finished their non-conference schedule 10-3. Their most impressive non-conference win was an 10 point win over #72 Purdue. The ‘Dores's most inexplicable loss in the non-conference was by 3 to #140 Rutgers; however, the past Saturday's loss to #220 Mississippi State has to be the most embarrassing. The Commodores has a 1-3 SEC start with its only win coming at the expense of Auburn by 12 points. In addition to falling to the Mississippi State Bulldogs, the ‘Dores have lost at #41 Arkansas and to #29 Georgia. Vanderbilt's non-conference schedule has a strength of 0.4406 (#261), and the Commodores schedule strength after the first four SEC games stands at 0.5078 (#165).

VANDERBILT has played its first 17 games at an average tempo of about 61 possessions per game, scoring 67.4 ppg (1.111 ppp) and allowing an average 58.5 ppg (0.963 ppp). VANDERBILT has turned the ball over on 22.0% of its possessions while forcing turnovers on 17.5% of opponent possessions. On the Boards, VANDERBILT has secured an offensive rebounding rate of 34.4%, and a defensive rebounding rate of 66.5%.

In contrast, the Cats have averaged about 66 possessions per game, producing 76.1 ppg (1.15 ppp) and allowing 50.4 ppg (0.76 ppp). The Cats have committed turnovers on 17.1% of its possessions and forced turnovers on 23.9% of opponent possessions. On the Boards, the Cats' rebounding rates have been 44.8% and 66.6% on the offensive and defensive ends. The Cats' non-conference schedule has a strength of 0.5905(#83) and the Cats' schedule strength after the first 4 SEC games stands at 0.6289 (#31).

Based on this distribution, the analysis tips in favor of KENTUCKY by 22 points, 74-52 in a game played at a pace of 64 possessions for the Cats and 63 possessions for VANDERBILT. Pomeroy figures the Game in Kentucky's favor by 19 points, 72-53 at a pace of 60 possessions. The March towards March in Search of Perfection will continue Saturday afternoon in Tuscaloosa, Vanderbilt.

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Game Summary:

The starting players for the VANDERBILT game are Willie Cauley-Stein,, Karl-Anthony Towns, Dominique Hawkins , Aaron Harrison, and Andrew Harrison. Platoon 2 consists of Dakari Johnson, Marcus Lee, Trey Lyles, Devin Booker, and Tyler Ulis. Coach Calipari has decided that he needs to return to the full platoon system. Derek Willis, and E. J. Floreal to provide deep reserve help should the game require or permit Coach Calipari to go to his 10 th or 11 th players.

The Cats control the opening tip, and score quickly, and a pair of free throws and a 3 pointer by Hawkins lift the Cats to a 7-0 lead before Vanderbilt breaks into the scoring with a 3 pointer of their own to trim the lead to 7-3 at the under 16 media timeout. In the second segment, the Cats move on top 12-4, and then 14-7 before Vanderbilt scores to trim the lead to 5 at the under 12 media timeout. The Commodores will have possession after the timeout due to Kentucky's second turnover of the game just prior to the timeout. In the third segment, Vandy makes a basket and a pair of free throws around a pair of UK turnovers to trim the score to a single point, 14-13 with 9:26 remaining. However, the Cats score the final 4 points of the segment to move back on top by 5 points, 18-13, at the under 8 media timeout.

In the fourth segment, the Cats again stretch the lead to 8 points, 25-17, but Vanderbilt uses a pair of UK turnovers to trim the lead back to 4 points, 25-21, at the under 4 media timeout, and Vanderbilt will have the ball after the timeout. At the timeout, the Cats lead 33-26.

The first half was played at a pace of 33 possessions (66 game pace). The Cats scored its 33 points on 33 possessions (1.00 ppp) and VANDERBILT scored 26 points on 33 possessions (0.79 ppp). The Cats shot well in the first half making 12-23 (52.2%) overall and 2-2 (100.0%) from outside the arc. VANDERBILT shot well for the half, making 8-19 (42.1%) inside the arc, and the Commodores were 2-7 (28.6%) shooting the ball from outside the arc. From the line, UK made 9-14 (64.3%) while VANDERBILT made 4-8 (50.0%). Kentucky won the battle of the boards in the first half, out rebounding VANDERBILT 16-14 overall. Vanderbilt managed to grab 6 offensive rebounds to only 3 for the Cats. The Cats managed to get 29.4% of its misses, while VANDERBILT grabbed 38.8% of its misses.

The Cats committed 8 turnovers (25.0%) and forced 10 VANDERBILT turnovers (30%).

Second Half:

The Cats open the second half missing their first 4 shots and Vanderbilt trims the lead to 3 points, forcing a UK timeout. The Cats manage to score a basket, but that is it for the first segment as the Cats one time 9-point lead now stands at 5 points, 35-30 at the under 16 media timeout. The Cats will have the ball when play resumes. In the second segment, the Cats added 5more points to their lead, to stretch the lead to 10 points, 43-33, at the under 12 media timeout. After the timeout, Tyler Ulis will be at the line for 3 free throws, as he drew a foul with only 2 seconds left on the shot clock.

After Tyler Ulis made 2 of his 3 shots to push the lead to 12, Vanderbilt hit a 3 pointer, and a layup off the Cats' 10 th turnover to trim the lead to 7, forcing Coach Calipari to take another timeout. Over the balance of the third segment, Vanderbilt used 3-3 shooting from outside the arc to cut the UK 12 point lead to 4 points twice, which is where it stands at the under 8 media timeout, 50-46 and the Cats in possession.

In the fourth segment, the Cats used 4-4 free throw shooting to offset Vanderbilt's 4 th 3 pointer in a row without a miss to stretch their tenuous lead from 4 to 5 points, 56-51, at the under 4 media timeout with 3:17 left to play. The Cats will have a pair of free throws after the timeout. The final score is 65-57.


UK scored its 65 points in 64 possessions (1.02 ppp) for the game, and VANDERBILT scored its 57 points on 66 possessions (0.86 ppp).

Kentucky won the battle of the boards, with a rebounding edge 33-30, and the Cats won the battle for the offensive rebounds 10-9. The Cats won the second chance points 11-4. VANDERBILT had an offensive efficiency of 0.803 ppp on its 66 first chance possessions and 0.444 ppp for its 9 second chance possessions. UK had 0.844 ppp on it 64 first chance possessions and 1.100 ppp on its 10-second chance possessions. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed a weak 32.3% of its misses as offensive rebounds while VANDERBILT was able to convert 28.1% of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.

UK hit poorly from the free throw line in this game, making 21-32 [65.6%]. VANDERBILT made 6-12 [50.0%] for the game. Field goal shooting for UK was 20-46 overall [43.5%] and 4-6 from long range [66.7%]. For VANDERBILT, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was a strong 15-35 [42.9%] and from long range, VANDERBILT hit 7-19 [38.9%].

The Cats committed 13 turnovers, one for every 4.9 possessions. The Cats forced 16 VANDERBILT turnovers, one for every 4.1 possessions.

Next Game On Schedule: Saturday afternoon, January 24, 2015 against South Carolina in the 6 th SEC game of the 2015 season at Columbia.

Submitted by Richard Cheeks

Submitted by Richard Cheeks


Cats Take 18-0 Record To South Carolina

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