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2014-15 Season Analytical Writings
Only two UK teams in the storied history of UK basketball have started a season with more consecutive wins than the 19 wins that the 2014-15 Cats have posted. Both of the remaining teams that this team pursues have legendary characteristics of the legendary Coach Rupp. Even to suggest that a modern day team could be discussed in the same breath as either the Runts or the undefeated 1954 group that the NCAA scorned could be considered heresy in some quarters.
Hagan, Ramsey, and Tsioropoulos are names that rolled so naturally off the tongue of Big Blue Fans in my youth. Conley, Kron, Dampier, and Riley were the core of the Runts, the first UK team that I really followed. It has been 60 years since the undefeated season, and nearly 50 years since the Runts played the game.
Coach Calipari has now had two teams in his 6 years get reach this 19-0 mark. We all recall how the 2010 group stumbled in their 20 th game at South Carolina. That loss cut short the quest for this level of legendary status. Wildcat fans around the globe now are watching closely to see if the 2015 group can continue its march toward March in search of perfection, and meet or exceed these legendary marks. For the legends watch to remain relevant, the Cats will need to enter games #23, #24, #25, and #26 without a blemish. To get there from here, the Cats must now play #20 (at Missouri), #21 (Alabama at Rupp), and #22 (Georgia at Rupp) without a loss over a span of only 5 days to earn the right to play that foursome to earn true legendary status in a program rich in legends.
For game #20, the Cats remain on the road and travel from Columbia, South Carolina where they defeated the Gamecocks by 15 on Saturday to Columbia, Missouri where they will try to put the Tigers down for the second time in just 2 weeks. In the first meeting between these two teams, the Cats manhandled the Tigers and left the floor with a 49-point win. Missouri has not won a game since limping out of Rupp Arena on January 13. Their losses include a road loss to Texas A&M by 12, and home losses to Tennessee by 8 and Arkansas by 1. Missouri's record as they prepare for this rematch stands at 7-12, and 1-5 in the SEC.
MISSOURI has played its first 19 games at an average tempo of about 65-66 possessions per game, scoring 62.6 ppg (0.954 ppp) and allowing an average 68.6 ppg (1.050 ppp). MISSOURI has turned the ball over on 19.9% of its possessions while forcing turnovers on 17.9% of opponent possessions. On the Boards, MISSOURI has secured an offensive rebounding rate of 29.4%, and a defensive rebounding rate of 65.7%.
In contrast, the Cats have averaged about 66 possessions per game, producing 74.6 ppg (1.13 ppp) and allowing 50.4 ppg (0.77 ppp). The Cats have committed turnovers on 17.1% of its possessions and forced turnovers on 23.7% of opponent possessions. On the Boards, the Cats' rebounding rates have been 42.9% and 66.3% on the offensive and defensive ends.
The Tigers' schedule strength stands at 0.6839 (#5), and the Cats' schedule strength is 0.6364 (#29).
Based on this distribution, the analysis tips in favor of KENTUCKY by 22 points, 75-53 in a game played at a pace of 66 possessions for the Cats and 66 possessions for MISSOURI. Pomeroy figures the Game in Kentucky's favor by 18 points, 68-50 at a pace of 60 possessions. The March towards March in Search of Perfection will continue Thursday night at 9 pm in Columbia, Missouri.
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The starting players for the MISSOURI game are Willie Cauley-Stein,, Karl-Anthony Towns, Dominique Hawkins, Aaron Harrison, and Andrew Harrison. Platoon 2 consists of Dakari Johnson, Trey Lyles,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 10th or 11 th players.
The Cats control the opening tip, and Dominique Hawkins drains a 3 pointer to give the Cats the lead. Andrew Harrison makes a 3point play following a steal to put the Cats on top 6-0 before Missouri hits a 3 pointer on their fifth possession to cut the lead in half, 6-3, at the under 16 media timeout. Devin Booker enters the game with the second platoon during the timeout and scores on his first trip into offensive court to give the Cats a 5 point lead, 8-3. However, the Tigers respond with two unanswered baskets to trim the lead to 1 point, 8-7. Karl-Anthony Towns scores inside the lane with a hook shot to give the Cats a 3 point lead, 10-7, at the under 12 media timeout.
The Cats' offense is sputtering, and Missouri uses back to back 3 pointers to move from 5 down to 1 up, forcing Coach Calipari to take a timeout with 9:33 to play and trailing for the first time this season against Missouri, 12-13. The Cats regain the lead on a dunk by Dakari Johnson and after Missouri regains the lead, the Cats retake the lead on a dunk by Marcus Lee. The Cats are clinging to that 1 point lead, 16-15 at the under 8 media timeout. After the timeout, the Tigers take the lead again, but the Cats answer with a pair of free throws by Trey Lyles. Following a MU miss, Devin Booker makes a driving 3 point play to lift the Cats lead back to 4 points, 21-17. After Missouri trims the lead to 1 points, 22-21, the Cats run off 8 straight to stretch their lead to 9 points, 30-21, forcing a Missouri timeout with 3:42 remaining in the first half. The teams finish the half with the Cats maintaining the 9 point lead, 34-25, at the half.
The first half was played at a pace of 30 possessions (60 game pace). The Cats scored its 34 points on 30 possessions (1.13 ppp) and MISSOURI scored 25 points on 29 possessions (0.86 ppp). The Cats shot well in the first half making 13-24 (54.2%) overall and 1-4 (25.0%) from outside the arc. MISSOURI shot well for the half, making 7-11 (63.6%) inside the arc, and the Tigers were 3-11 (27.3%) shooting the ball from outside the arc. From the line, UK made 7-10 (70.0%) while MISSOURI made 2-3 (66.7%). Kentucky won the battle of the boards in the first half, out rebounding the Tigers 16-10 overall. The Cats managed to grab 5 offensive rebounds to only 2 for the Tigers. The Cats managed to get 38.5% of its misses, while MISSOURI grabbed 15.4% of its misses. Each team scored two second chance points.
The Cats committed 7 turnovers (23.3%) and forced 7 MISSOURI turnovers (24.1%).
On the first possession Dakari Johnson is fouled, makes the first free throw to give the Cats a 10 point lead, but Missouri answered with 1 of 2 free throws and a basket to end the scoring in the opening segment of the second half. In the first 4 minutes, there were more fouls (11) than shot attempts (10). At the under 15 media timeout, Missouri has pulled to within 7 points, 35-28. In the second segment, Andrew Harrison led the Cats as they expanded their lead from 7 points to 13 points, 45-32 at the under 12 media timeout.
In the third segment, the Cats added 7 more points to their lead to extend the lead to 20 points, 56-36 at the under 8 media timeout. The teams traded baskets, with the lead moving between 18 and 20 points until late in the fourth segment when Missouri used a 3 pointer to trim the lead to 14, 60-46, at the under 4 media timeout with 3:33 remaining, and Aaron Harrison set to shoot a pair of free throws after the timeout. The final score is 69-53 as the Cats extend their undefeated streak to 20-0, third best in UK history, and the first SEC team to start 20-0 since the Rupp's Runts did it in 1966.
UK scored its 69 points in 64 possessions (1.08 ppp) for the game, and MISSOURI scored its 53 points on 63 possessions (0.84 ppp).
Kentucky won the battle of the boards, with a rebounding edge 34-26, and the Cats won the battle for the offensive rebounds 11-6. MIZZOU and Kentucky each scored 4 the second chance points. MISSOURI had an offensive efficiency of 0.778 ppp on its 63 first chance possessions and 0.667 ppp for its 6 second chance possessions. UK had 1.016 ppp on its 64 first chance possessions and 0.364 ppp on its 11-second chance possessions. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed a weak 35.5% of its misses as offensive rebounds while MISSOURI was able to convert 20.7% of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.
UK hit well from the free throw line in this game, making 27-37 [73.0%]. MISSOURI made 13-20 [65.0%] for the game. Field goal shooting for UK was 20-44 overall [45.5%] and 2.7 from long range [28.6%]. For MISSOURI, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was a strong 14-27 [51.9%] and from long range, MISSOURI hit 4-16 [25.0%].
The Cats committed 14 turnovers, one for every 4.6 possessions. The Cats forced 15 MISSOURI turnovers, one for every 4.2 possessions.
Next Game On Schedule: Saturday evening, January 31, 2015 against Alabama in the 8 th SEC game of the 2015 season at Rupp Arena.
Submitted by Richard Cheeks
Submitted by Richard Cheeks