2014-15 Season Analytical Writings

Cats Put Their Unbeaten Streak On The Line At South Carolina

The Cats seemed to play just well enough on Tuesday to stay in the lead, and eventually walked off the Rupp Arena floor with an unimpressive win over Vanderbilt. Nevertheless, it was a win, to extend the Cats' start of this season to 18-0, and 5-0 in the SEC. The next challenge will occur at high noon on Saturday in Columbia, South Carolina when the Cats will put their 18-0 streak on the line and try to leave the Gamecocks in ruins and head toward Columbia Missouri at 19-0.

The ironies of this game are strong. The Cats' 18-0 start is the fourth best in the history of the UK basketball program. The third best is 19-0, and if the Cats get out of Columbia, South Carolina with the win, they will travel to Columbia, Missouri tied for 3 rd at 19-0. The 19-0 mark they now seek to duplicate is owned by the 2009-10 Cats in Calipari's first year at the helm. That team took its 19-0 record into the very same Columbia, South Carolina, a brand new #1 ranking, and a pre-game telephone call from the POTUS, only to see their streak of consecutive wins end at 19-0 at the hands of those Gamecocks.

2010 is not the only year that the Gamecocks have been spoilers for UK basketball. I am confident that the Gamecocks have made plans to be the spoiler again in 2015.

The Cats and Gamecocks have not played a common non-conference opponent this season, but they have each played Alabama and Mississippi. Kentucky needed overtime to beat #34 Mississippi at Rupp Arena, and the Gamecocks lost to Mississippi in Oxford by 16 points. The Cats beat #37 Alabama by a handy 22 points in Tuscaloosa, and South Carolina beat the Crimson Tide, but by only 2 points in Columbia. The Alabama win is the only SEC win that the Gamecocks have earned in five attempts this season, with losses to #39 Florida by 4, #77 Tennessee by 4, both at home, and at #153 Auburn by 3.

South Carolina's most impressive non-conference win was a 4-point win over #18 Iowa State on a neutral court. As impressive at the Iowa State win is, South Carolina has a difficult time explaining their losses to #131 Charlotte and to #111 Akron. USC's non-conference schedule has a strength of 0.5268 (#157), and the Gamecocks' schedule strength after the first five SEC games stands at 0.6017(#59).

SOUTH CAROLINA has played its first 17 games at an average tempo of about 69 possessions per game, scoring 70.9 ppg (1.020 ppp) and allowing an average 60.2 ppg (0.863 ppp). SOUTH CAROLINA has turned the ball over on 20.4% of its possessions while forcing turnovers on 22.1% of opponent possessions. On the Boards, SOUTH CAROLINA has secured an offensive rebounding rate of 35.1%, and a defensive rebounding rate of 71.0%.

In contrast, the Cats have averaged about 66 possessions per game, producing 75.5 ppg (1.14 ppp) and allowing 50.8 ppg (0.77 ppp). The Cats have committed turnovers on 17.3% of its possessions and forced turnovers on 23.9% of opponent possessions. On the Boards, the Cats' rebounding rates have been 44.2% and 66.8% on the offensive and defensive ends. The Cats' non-conference schedule has a strength of 0.5958(#81) and the Cats' schedule strength after the first 5 SEC games stands at 0.6348 (#31).

Based on this distribution, the analysis tips in favor of KENTUCKY by 9 points, 69-60 in a game played at a pace of 68 possessions for the Cats and 68 possessions for SOUTH CAROLINA. Pomeroy figures the Game in Kentucky's favor by 10 points, 67-57 at a pace of 60 possessions. Vegas says this is a 10 point game in Kentucky's favor. The March towards March in Search of Perfection will continue Saturday at noon in Columbia, South Carolina.

See how other Big Blue Fans see this game's likely outcome by clicking the following link.

You can enter your prediction at any time prior to tip off by visiting the 247 Sports prediction thread for this game at:

Game Summary:

The starting players for the SOUTH CAROLINA game are Willie Cauley-Stein,, Karl-Anthony Towns, Trey Lyles, Aaron Harrison, and Andrew Harrison. Platoon 2 consists of Dakari Johnson, Marcus Lee, Dominique Hawkins, 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 tip, but the tip goes out of bounds. USC draws first blood on a base line jumper. After the Cats score back to back baskets to ease into a lead, USC finishes the first segment with a 5-2 run, and will have 2 more free throws after the under 15 media timeout. After making 1 of 2 free throws to ease on top by 2 points, 8-6, the Cats went on a 8-1 run to move out to a 5 point lead, 14-9. The largest lead was 6 points, 17-11, but USC closed to within 4 points on a pair of free throws, 17-13, at the under 12 media timeout with 10:21 remaining in the first half.

Willie Cauley-Stein has gone to the bench with 2 quick fouls in the first 3 minutes of the game, and Aaron Harrison has also been tagged with a pair of fouls. In the third segment, the Cats manage 1 of 2 free throws and USC then scores two baskets, each following misses and offensive rebounds to pull to within 1 point, 18-17, prompting Coach Calipari to take a timeout with 8:50 remaining.

After the timeout, Devin Booker made a base line jump shot and scored on a UK fast break to extend the lead back to 5 points, 22-17, at the under 8 media timeout. The Gamecocks use a pair of field goals and their first 3 pointer of the day to regain the lead, 24-23, but three consecutive USC turnovers allow the Cats to move back on top by 1 point, with a pair of free throws for Devin Booker after the under 4 media timeout with 3:06 remaining in the first half.

In the last segment, the Cats add to their lead and put it a at a game high 7 points, 31-24, inside the last two minutes, prompting Coach Martin to take a timeout. The Cats continue the shutout of USC in this segment to take a 10 point lead, 34-24, into the locker room.

The first half was played at a pace of 33 possessions (66 game pace). The Cats scored its 34 points on 32 possessions (1.06 ppp) and SOUTH CAROLINA scored 24 points on 33 possessions (0.73 ppp). The Cats shot well in the first half making 12-25 (48.0%) overall and 2-6 (33.3%) from outside the arc. SOUTH CAROLINA shot poorly for the half, making 7-27 (25.9%) inside the arc, and the Gamecocks were 1-3 (33.3%) shooting the ball from outside the arc. From the line, UK made 88-15 (53.3%) while SOUTH CAROLINA made 7-9 (77.8%). South Carolina won the battle of the boards in the first half, out rebounding the Cats 18-22 overall. South Carolina managed to grab 8 offensive rebounds to only 3 for the Cats. The Cats managed to get 17.6% of its misses, while SOUTH CAROLINA grabbed 34.8% of its misses. The Gamecock have a 10-4 advantage for second chance points.

The Cats committed 2 turnovers (6.3%) and forced 7 SOUTH CAROLINA turnovers (21.2%).

Second Half:

Kentucky starts the second half, but for the entire first segment, there were more fouls by UK than points by both teams, as the Cats were blown for 5 fouls, and the scoring was a 3-1 advantage by the Cats, to extend the score to 37-25. At the under 12 media timeout, the Cats lead 44-32 and USC will have two free throws after the timeout with 10:49 remaining in the game. At the under 8 media timeout, the Cats remain in control by 14, 48-34. USC will again be at the foul line for 2 shots after the time out with 7:24 remaining in the game. At the under 4 media timeout, with 3:15 remaining, the Cats lead by 15, 54-39, and as has become the habit, USC will shoot a pair of free throws after this timeout.

Cats win 58-43, move to 19-0 to tie for the 3 rd best start all time for the UK program.


UK scored its 58 points in 58 possessions (1.00 ppp) for the game, and SOUTH CAROLINA scored its 43 points on 57 possessions (0.76 ppp).

SOUTH CAROLINA won the battle of the boards, with a rebounding edge 28-40, and the Gamecocks won the battle for the offensive rebounds 18-3. USC won the second chance points 4-13. SOUTH CAROLINA had an offensive efficiency of 0.526 ppp on its 57 first chance possessions and 0.722 ppp for its 18 second chance possessions. UK had 0.931 ppp on it 58 first chance possessions and 1.333 ppp on its 3-second chance possessions. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed a weak 12.0% of its misses as offensive rebounds while SOUTH CAROLINA was able to convert 41.9% of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.

UK hit well from the free throw line in this game, making 19-27 [70.4%]. SOUTH CAROLINA made 16-21 [76.2%] for the game. Field goal shooting for UK was 18-39 overall [46.2%] and 3-9 from long range [33.3%]. For SOUTH CAROLINA, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was a weak 9-43 [20.9%] and from long range, SOUTH CAROLINA hit 3-10 [30.0%].

The Cats committed 8 turnovers, one for every 7.2 possessions. The Cats forced 12 SOUTH CAROLINA turnovers, one for every 4.8 possessions.

Next Game On Schedule: Thursday evening, January 29, 2015 against Missouri in the 7 th SEC game of the 2015 season at Columbia.

Submitted by Richard Cheeks

Submitted by Richard Cheeks


Cats Stay On The Road At Missouri

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