2014-15 Season Analytical Writings

Cats Head To Knoxville With History On Their Agenda


The best start ever by a UK basketball team, an accomplishment shared at the moment by the 1953-54 Hagan, Ramsey and Tsioropoulos team coached by Adolph Rupp and the current team coached by John Calipari. We will never know how many more games the 1953-54 team could have added to their 25 games without a loss because the NCAA determined that Hagan, Ramsey and Tsioropoulos would not be eligible to play in their post season tournament, and Coach Rupp refused to take a team without its heart and soul. So the 1953-54 Cats ended their season undefeated.

The current team, now at 25-0, will play on. This team has its next chance to make history by breaking new ground when it travels to Knoxville, Tennessee to put its unbeaten record on the line again. This time, a win will establish this team with the longest winning streak to start a season without a defeat.

History is changing! This team is rewriting several of the chapters that have remained unchanged for decades. Cicero said, “To remain ignorant of things that happened before you were born is to remain a child.” The kids that occupy the positions on the 2014-15 UK basketball team should study the history of great UK teams falling down when they travel to Knoxville. Huxley explained why, “That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons that history has to teach.”

The last time Coach Calipari took his UK team to Knoxville, the Volunteers handed the Cats an embarrassing 30 point defeat in what would signal an out of control tailspin to end the 2013 season. However, that is not the only tough experience in Knoxville for some great UK basketball teams over the decades. Coach Calipari's first UK team waltzed into Knoxville in late February sporting a 27-1 record and left 27-2, finding themselves on the short end of a 66-74 final score. Consider the broader history spanning nearly 50 years:

•  The 1992-93 Cats took their #2 ranking and 20-2 record into Knoxville only to fall to 20-3 after a 1 point loss, 77-78.

•  The 1991-92 Cats traveled to Knoxville ranked #8 with a 14-2 record, but fell to the Vols by 22 points, 85-107.

•  Coach Sutton took his 9 th ranked 18-3 team into Knoxville in 1988 only to fall by 2 points, 70-72.

•  Coach Hall's 1983-84 final four team travelled to Knoxville ranked #4 with a 21-3 record only to fall by 5, 68-73 to Tennessee.

•  Coach Hall's 1981-82 team entered Knoxville at #3, 9-1, and left 9-2 after a 4 point loss, 66-70.

•  Coach Hall's 1980-81 team was #6 and 16-3 only to fall in Knoxville by 16 points, 71-87.

•  Coach Hall's 1979-80 team took a 12-1 record, a #2 rank, and a 12 game winning streak to Knoxville only to lose by 2, 47-49.

•  The 1976-77 Cats entered Knoxville 23-2, ranked #2 in the nation, and left with their 3 rd loss, falling by 2 points 79-81.

•  Coach Hall took his national runner up team of 1974-75 into Knoxville ranked #4 with a 18-3 record only to fall to the Vols by 5, 98-103.

•  Coach Rupp escorted his 1970-71 team to Knoxville ranked #10 with a 10-2 record only to fall by 4, 71-75.

•  Coach Rupp's 1967-68 team entered Knoxville 10-3 and #8 only to lose by 28 points, 59-87.

•  Coach Rupp's Runts took a perfect 23-0 record and the #1 ranking to Knoxville only to pick up its first loss of the season, falling by 7 points, 62-69.

This history involves Coaches Rupp, Hall, Sutton, Pitino, Smith, and Calipari. In all but one of the cited losses, the Tennessee team was unranked. I don't go further back in history because the 1966 Runt's represents my first personal experience with the UK –Tennessee rivalry, and I have wept following each of the 14 losses in Knoxville that I have cited.

In order for the Cats to get win 26 and surpass the 1953-54 streak, it must do so in Knoxville against the backdrop of this history. It is imperative that the kids that wear the blue and white in 2015 appreciate this historical backdrop before they take the floor against a rather mediocre Tennessee team.

One final historical note, the 1995-96 championship team won 27 consecutive games, which is the school record for consecutive wins. If the Cats get out of Knoxville with their 26 th win, they will return to Rupp to match the 27-0 mark against Auburn, and then have a chance to break another long standing record on their trip to Starkville to play Mississippi State.

TENNESSEE has played its first 24 games at an average tempo of about 62 to 63 possessions per game, scoring 64.2 ppg (1.029 ppp) and allowing an average 63.6 ppg (1.008 ppp). TENNESSEE has turned the ball over on 19.6% of its possessions while forcing turnovers on 23.5% of opponent possessions. On the Boards, TENNESSEE has secured an offensive rebounding rate of 35.8%, and a defensive rebounding rate of 66.0%.

In contrast, the Cats have averaged about 65 possessions per game, producing 73.6 ppg (1.13 ppp) and allowing 51.8 ppg (0.802 ppp). The Cats have committed turnovers on 17.0% of its possessions and forced turnovers on 22.8% of opponent possessions. On the Boards, the Cats' rebounding rates have been 41.4% and 67.5% on the offensive and defensive ends.

The Volunteers' schedule strength stands at 0.6307(#53), and the Cats' schedule strength is 0.6656 (#24).

Based on this distribution, the analysis tips in favor of KENTUCKY by 13 points, 70-57 in a game played at a pace of 66 possessions for the Cats and 66 possessions for TENNESSEE . Pomeroy figures the Game in Kentucky's favor by 14 points, 67-53 at a pace of 59 possessions. The Vegas line opened at 17 ½ points in favor of the Cats. The March towards March in Search of Perfection will continue Tuesday evening at 27 PM at Knoxville, Tennessee.

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Game Summary:

Coach Calipar i sticks with the starting players he has used before Trey Lyles illness consisting of Trey Lyles, Willie Cauley-Stein,, Karl-Anthony Towns, Aaron Harrison, and Andrew Harrison. Platoon 2 consists of Dakari Johnson, Marcus Lee, Dominique Hawkins, Devin Booker, and Tyler Ulis. Derek Willis, and E. J. Floreal to provide deep reserve help should the game require or permit Coach Calipari to go to his 11th or 12 th players.

Kentucky controls the tip, but after a missed shot, kat fouls on the rebound and then fouls the UT player on a shot, picking up 2 fouls in the first 54 seconds. Dakari Johnson comes in to take Karl Anthony Towns'S place. After UT makes 1 of 2 free throws, the Cats commit an offensive foul, turning the ball back to the Vols. After a UT turnover, Aaron Harrison 3 point attempt barely draws iron as it is short of the mark. Coach Calipari wastes no time bringing in the second platoon after only 2 minutes. Andrew Harrison gets Kentucky on the board with a 15 foot jump shot, and then a 3 pointer from the right wing. A Tennessee basket just prior to the end of the initial segment closed the gap to 5-3 at the under 16 media timeout. In the second segment, the Cats managed 4 points to 5 points for the Vols as UT trimmed the lead to a single point, 9-8, at the under 12 media timeout with 11:42 remaining and the Cats in possession of the ball.

In the third segment, Tyler Ulis his a baseline jumper and a 3 pointer, a total of 7 points on the evening so far to lift the Cats on top by 5 points, 18-13, but a basket by UT just prior to the end of the segment closed to 3 points, 18-15 at the under 8 media timeout with 7:28 remaining. Willie Cauley Stein will have a pair of free throws after the timeout. Willie Cauley Stein made 1 of 2. Following a turnover, theVols get 4 consecutive stops and make 4 baskets to move on top 23-21, prompting a timeout by Kentucky with 4:41 remaining. After a two trips to the free throw line by Devin Booker tie the Vols, a 3 point play by UT on an offensive rebound gives them their biggest lead, 26-23. Devin Booker gets an offensive rebound basket to trim the margin to 1 point, and UT's 8 th turnover of the half sends the game to the under 4 media timeout, with 3:26 remaining and the Cats in possession.

After the Cats move on top, the stripes give Willie Cauley Stein 2 quick fouls, both phantoms. However, the Cats have not fouled enough to get into the bonus, and UT missed on their shot. The Cats converted on a fast break of the rebound to move on top 29-26, prompting a timeout by UT with 1:53 remaining. In the final 2 minutes, the Cats expanded their lead to 4 points, 35-31 at the half.

The first half was played at a pace of 29 possessions (58 game pace). The Cats scored its 35 points on 29 possessions (1.21 ppp) and TENNESSEE scored 31 points on 29 possessions (1.07 ppp). The Cats shot poorly in the first half making 13-3295 (44.8%) overall and 4-13 (30.8%) from outside the arc. TENNESSEE shot well for the half, making 11-17 (64.7%) inside the arc, and the Volunteers were 2-8 (25.0%) shooting the ball from outside the arc. From the line, UK made 5-8 (62-5%) while TENNESSEE made 3-4 (75.0%). Tennessee won the battle of the boards in the first half, out rebounding the Volunteers 15-13 overall. The Cats won the offensive glass 8-6, but each Tennessee won the second chance point battle 2-6.

The Cats committed 4 turnovers (13.8% of possessions) and forced 9 TENNESSEE turnovers (31.0% of possessions).

Kentucky's biggest lead was 5 points, and Tennessee's biggest lead was 3.

Second Half:

Tennessee opens the second half with two misses, two offensive rebounds, and a basket to trim the lead to two points. The Cats respond with 7 points in 5 possessions while holding the Vols to only 2 more, to extend their lead to a game high 7 points, 42-35 at the under 16 media timeout. The Cats will have the ball when play resumes. On their first possession, Willie Cauley Stein turns the ball over. Tennessee forces 4 UK turnovers, and rides 4 offensive rebounds to score 5 second chance points to cut the lead to 4 points, 44-40 at the under 12 media timeout with 11:55 to play and the Cats set for a pair of free throws after the break.

Trey Lyles made both free throws to ease back out by 6 points, but another offense rebound basket trimmed the lead back to 4 points. Devin Booker calls a timeout after he retrieves a loose ball on the Cats' next offensive possession with only 13 second left on the shot clock. The Cats manage to get to the foul line and Devin Booker pushes the lead back to 6, and a steal by Andrew Harrison puts the Cats on top by a game high 8 points at the under 8 media timeout with 7:31 remaining and the Cats in possession of the ball.

Tyler Ulis is fouled on a drive, makes his first and missed the second, but Karl Anthony Towns put the offensive rebound back in, and was fouled for a 3 point play. The Cats continue to shut out the Vols in the segment, and move on top by 14, 58-44 with 5:04 to play, prompting a Tennessee timeout. After the timeout, the Vols stop the Cat run, and after a miss by Aaron Harrison from long range, Trey Lyles fouls a Vol on a shot attempt, taking the game to the under 4 media timeout with 3:38 remaining and the Cats on top by 12, 58-46.

On their first possession, Tennessee got 5 shots on the single possession with 4 offensive rebounds. The Vol player missed the front end, and Tennessee fouls Andrew Harrison at the other end when he drove into the lane for a shot attempt. Cats win by 18, 66-48.


UK scored its 66 points in 57 possessions (1.158 ppp) for the game, and TENNESSEE scored its 48 points on 57 possessions (0.842 ppp).

Kentucky and Tennessee each claimed 35 rebounds. Tennessee won the battle of the offensive rebounds 19-17. Tennessee had a 1 point advantage on second chance points, l7-16. TENNESSEE had an offensive efficiency of 0.544 ppp on its 57 first chance possessions and 0.8947 ppp for its 19 second chance possessions. UK had 0.877 ppp on its 57 first chance possessions and 0.941 ppp on its 17-second chance possessions. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed a strong 51.5% of its misses as offensive rebounds while TENNESSEE was able to convert 51.4% of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.

UK hit well from the free throw line in this game, making 17-21 [81.0%]. TENNESSEE made 4-10 [40.0%] for the game. Field goal shooting for UK was 22-53 overall [41.5%] and 5-22 from long range [22.7%]. For TENNESSEE , their field goal shooting from inside the arc was a strong 19-39 [48.7%] and from long range, TENNESSEE hit 2-17 [11.8%].

The Cats committed 11 turnovers, one for every 5.2 possessions. The Cats forced 15 TENNESSEE turnovers, one for every 3.8 possessions.

Next Game On Schedule: Saturday evening, February 21, 2015 against Auburn in the 14 th SEC game of the 2015 season at Rupp Arena.

Submitted by Richard Cheeks

Submitted by Richard Cheeks


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