2014-15 Season Analytical Writings

Cats Stay On The Road, Moving From Gainesville to Baton Rouge

The Cats got out of Gainesville with a hard earned 7 point win in which all but one of the Kentucky points came from 4 players. The win came from 21-22 free throw shooting and a return of the team's aggressive board work that had become their signature over the first 15 games, but had abandoned them in recent games. Of these two important factors, the return to the energy based board work was most welcome.

The Cats returned to Lexington long enough to get fresh laundry, sleep in their beds one good night, and try to find soul mate Trey Lyles. On Tuesday night, Coach Calipari tweeted that Trey got on the plane headed to Baton Rouge, but they can't seem to locate him now. Where is Trey?

The win at Florida lifted the Cats to a 23-0 start, to tie Rupp's Runts (1965-66) for the second best start in program history. On Tuesday night, they will take their game into the Maravich center for the purpose of laying sole claim to the second best record at 24-0. On Saturday, Florida realized that a win over the Cats on Saturday would probably be their only way to punch a ticket to an unlikely NCAA Tournament bid. The Gators failed to get the upset despite playing the best game of their season.

LSU finds itself in a similar position, with a record of 6-4 in the SEC, needing to secure an upset over the #1 Cats to secure their post season hopes. Coach Jones has issued an open letter to all Louisiana asking employers to allow their employees to leave work early on Tuesday so they can get to the game in time for a 6 pm (CST) tip off.

The Tigers completed their non-conference schedule 11-2. LSU and UK did not have a common non-conference opponent. The two LSU losses were both on neutral courts to #73 Old Dominion by 9 and #85 Clemson by 3. The Tigers' most impressive non-conference win came at #24 West Virginia by 1. In SEC play, the Tigers have won 6 and lost 4. The losses occurred on the road at #203 Missouri in OT, and at #164 Mississippi State by 6. The Tigers have lost twice at home, to #39 Texas A&M by 3 and to #137 Auburn by 4. The Tigers have claimed three road wins so far in the conference, at #29 Mississippi by 4, at #35 Florida by 18, and at #48 Vanderbilt in OT.

LSU has played its first 22 games at an average tempo of about 73 possessions per game, scoring 74.5 ppg (1.018 ppp) and allowing an average 67.7 ppg (0.929 ppp). LSU has turned the ball over on 21.0% of its possessions while forcing turnovers on 19.6% of opponent possessions. On the Boards, LSU has secured an offensive rebounding rate of 35.3%, and a defensive rebounding rate of 67.7%.

In contrast, the Cats have averaged about 65 possessions per game, producing 73.6 ppg (1.13 ppp) and allowing 51.5 ppg (0.795 ppp). The Cats have committed turnovers on 17.0% of its possessions and forced turnovers on 23.6% of opponent possessions. On the Boards, the Cats' rebounding rates have been 40.8% and 67.2% on the offensive and defensive ends.

The Tigers' schedule strength stands at 0.5566 (#96), and the Cats' schedule strength is 0.6576 (#26).

Based on this distribution, the analysis tips in favor of KENTUCKY by 8 points, 71-63 in a game played at a pace of 69 possessions for the Cats and 69 possessions for LSU. Pomeroy figures the Game in Kentucky's favor by 11 points, 72-61 at a pace of 69 possessions. The Vegas line opened at 10 points in favor of the Cats. The March towards March in Search of Perfection will continue Tuesday evening at 7 PM in Baton Rouge.

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 GEORGIA game are Willie Cauley-Stein,, Karl-Anthony Towns, Dominique Hawkins, Aaron Harrison, and Andrew Harrison. Platoon 2 consists of Dakari Johnson, Marcus Lee, Dominique Hawkins, Devin Booker, and Tyler Ulis. Trey Lyles is not available for this game due to a personal illness. 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 Willie Cauley-Stein draws first blood, but the Gators respond with back to back 3 pointers to move on top 6-2. Karl-Anthony Towns makes a 3 point play to cut the lead to a single point, but Florida closes out the opening segment with a basket, a steal, and draws a foul on Aaron Harrison taking the ball to the basket. Florida leads 8-5 at the under 16 media timeout, and the Gators will have a pair of free throws after the break. In the second segment, the Gators started by missing both free throws, but the Cats could not take advantage of the empty trip to trim the lead, and the Gator continue to put space between themselves and the Cats on 8-13 shooting, including 2-3 from long range to lead 20-11 at the under 12 media timeout with 10:00 remaining in the first half of this game. The Cats will have the ball after the timeout.

In the abbreviated third segment, the Cats trim the 9 point lead to 3 points, 21-18, but a rebounding foul by Andrew Harrison and a shot clock violation gave the Gators a 5 point lead, 23-18, at the under 8 media timeout, and the Gators will have the first possession of the fourth segment. In an extended 4 th segment, the Cats claw back into contention and trail by 2 points, 28-26, at the under 4 media timeout with 2:10 remaining and Florida in possession. In the final segment, The Cats pulled even at 28-28, but the Gators closed the scoring for the first half to take a lead of 2 points, 30-28 to the locker room.

The first half was played at a pace of 30 possessions (60 game pace). The Cats scored its 28 points on 30 possessions (0.93 ppp) and FLORIDA scored 30 points on 29 possessions (1.03 ppp). The Cats shot poorly in the first half making 11-25 (44.0%) overall and 1-9 (11.1%) from outside the arc. FLORIDA shot well for the half, making 8-15 (53.3%) inside the arc, and the Gators were 3-10 (30.0%) shooting the ball from outside the arc. From the line, UK made 5-5 (100.0%) while FLORIDA made 5-8 (62.5%). Florida won the battle of the boards in the first half, out rebounding the Cats 15-14 overall. Florida also controlled the offensive glass, 6-5, but Kentucky used its second chances to score 9 points while the Gators only managed 4 second chance points from their 6 offensive boards.

The Cats committed 8 turnovers (26.7% of possessions) and forced 6 FLORIDA turnovers (20.7% of possessions).

Second Half:

The Cats open the second half with a bucket by Devin Booker to tie the score, and after Florida moved back on top by 3 with their 4 th 3 pointer of the night, the Cats continued to ride strong play by Karl-Anthony Towns and Aaron Harrison to lead by 1 points, 39-38 at the under 16 media timeout.

In the second segment, the Cats moved on top by their biggest margin, 4 points, 42-38, but Florida responded with 6 quick points to regain the lead, and Coach Calipari called a timeout to regroup his troupes with 12:30 remaining in the game. After the timeout, Karl-Anthony Towns turns the ball over to the Gators on a lazy pass at the top of the key, but Andrew Harrison steals the ball back and delivers the ball to Willie Cauley-Stein who makes the basket and completes the 3 point play at the line as the Cats regain the lead, 45-44. Following another Gator turnover, Aaron Harrison is fouled following an offensive rebound sending the teams to the benches at the under 12 media timeout.

Aaron Harrison made both free throws, and the Cats fight to extend their lead to a game high 5 points, 51-46, but the Gators do not fold their tents and match the Cats basket for basket to the under 8 media timeout with the Cats on top by 3, 53-50 with 7:33 remaining and the Cats in possession. The Cats get a basket to move up by 5 again, but 2 possessions with a chance to extend the lead to 7 fail to score, and the Gators trim the lead to 3. Booker makes an 18 foot jump shot near the end of the shot clock to move the Cats back on top by 5. After the Gators pull back to within 3 points on a pair of free throws, Billy Donovan takes a timeout with 4:43 remaining in the game.

After the timeout, the Cats come up dry when Willie Cauley-Stein throws a pass from the post to a Gator player, and Tyler Ulis fouls taking the game to the under 4 media timeout with the Gators in possession and trailing by 3 points, 57-54. Cats win by 7, 68-61, making 11 of 12 free throws down the stretch.


UK scored its 68 points in 61 possessions (1.11 ppp) for the game, and FLORIDA scored its 61 points on 61 possessions (1.00 ppp).

Kentucky won the battle of the boards, with a rebounding edge 33-20, and the Cats won the battle for the offensive rebounds 11-6. Kentucky also won the battle of second chance points 12-6. FLORIDA had an offensive efficiency of 0.901 ppp on its 61 first chance possessions and 1.000 ppp for its 6 second chance possessions. UK had 0.98 ppp on its 61 first chance possessions and 1.091 ppp on its 11-second chance possessions. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed a more reasonable 44.0% of its misses as offensive rebounds while FLORIDA was able to convert 21.4% of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.

UK hit well from the free throw line in this game, making 21-22 [95.5%]. FLORIDA made 7-14 [50.0%] for the game. Field goal shooting for UK was 22-47 overall [46.8%] and 3-14 (21.4%) from long range. For FLORIDA, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was a strong 18-28 [64.3%] and from long range, FLORIDA hit 6-21 [28.6%].

The Cats committed 15 turnovers, one for every 4.1 possessions. The Cats forced 11 FLORIDA turnovers, one for every 5.5 possessions.

Next Game On Schedule: Tuesday evening, February 10, 2015 against LSU in the 11 th SEC game of the 2015 season at Baton Rouge, LA.

Submitted by Richard Cheeks

Submitted by Richard Cheeks


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