2014-15 Season Analytical Writings

Cats Travel To Starkville Mississippi for Next To Last True Road Game

The Cats “Destruction” mentality was on full display during the first 12 minutes of Saturday's game against Auburn at Rupp Arena as the Cats raced to a 30-4 lead before coasting home to a 110-75 victory. This is the first game of this season that has the Cats scoring over 100 points, and the first time any UK team has turned that trick in a SEC game since 2010 against Arkansas. The 110 points are the most in a game by a Cat team since the 2002-03 season.

The offense produced these points in just 80 possessions, and offensive efficiency of 1.34 points per possession, matching the Alabama game's production as the best offensive showing of the season. In addition, the 80 possessions is the most in any game this season.

The defensive efficiency suffered somewhat giving up 75 points in 80 possessions. However, the primary explanation for that production by the Auburn Tigers is their 11-19 shooting from 3 point range in the game. After a start of -04, the Tigers made 11 of their next 13 attempts before missing their final two shots as time was winding down. That 11 for 13 shooting spanned the last 7:36 of the first half to the end of the game.

On the season, Auburn makes 35.7% of their 3 point shots, and the UK defense, on average, has held opponents to 5.6% under their respective season average shooting. If Auburn had made 36% of their 19 attempts (7), they would have scored 12 fewer points on the game, 63 in 80 possessions, and if the UK defense did its average job protecting the arc, 30% shooting for Auburn, they would have made only 6, or 60 points in 80 possessions. Either of those hypothetical outcomes would put the game raw defensive efficiency down in the 0.75 to 0.79 ppp range that is consistent with the great defense that has marked this entire season.

My observation during the game while Auburn made those consecutive 3 pointers was that in most instances, the UK defenders were contesting the shot.

There are only four games remaining in this regular season, two on the road (Mississippi State and Georgia) and two at Rupp (Arkansas and Florida). The Cats will dispose of one of the remaining two road games on Wednesday in Starkville, Mississippi. There have been signs of this team taking their game up to a new level over the last 3 games, and with the post season only 2 weeks away, there is no better time for that to occur. That new rising trend needs to continue on Wednesday against a rising. Or in terms of the mentality, a“Destruction” of Wildcats!!!!

MISSISSIPPI STATE's Bulldogs have played 26 games against legitimate D1 opponents at an average tempo of about 65 possessions per game, scoring 62.2 ppg (0.961 ppp) and allowing an average 63.4 ppg (0.981 ppp). MISSISSIPPI STATE has turned the ball over on 23.6% of its possessions while forcing turnovers on 18.8% of opponent possessions. On the Boards, MISSISSIPPI STATE has secured an offensive rebounding rate of 34.8%, and a defensive rebounding rate of 68.8%.

In contrast, the Cats have averaged about 65 possessions per game, producing 74.7 ppg (1.14 ppp) and allowing 52.6 ppg (0.809 ppp). The Cats have committed turnovers on 17.1% of its possessions and forced turnovers on 22.8% of opponent possessions. On the Boards, the Cats' rebounding rates have been 41.9% and 66.4% on the offensive and defensive ends.

The Bulldogs' schedule strength stands at 0.5751(#91), and the Cats' schedule strength is 0.6620 (#32).

Based on this distribution, the analysis tips in favor of KENTUCKY by 19 points, 72-53 in a game played at a pace of 65 possessions for the Cats and 65 possessions for MISSISSIPPI STATE . Pomeroy figures the Game in Kentucky's favor by 17 points, 70-53 at a pace of 62 possessions. Vegas opened at Kentucky -19. The March towards March in Search of Perfection will continue Wednesday evening at 7 PM in Starkville, Mississippi.

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

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:

Coach Calipari 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.

The Cats win the opening tip and immediately score the game's first basket. Following a MSU turnover, the Cats get a fast break basket, forcing a very quick MSU timeout. On the next inbounds play, the MSU player is trapped in the corner, and is forced to take another timeout, their second inside the first minute of play. However, after the second timeout, MSU seemed to settle down, and began to match the Cats, basket for basket. After 4-2, 6-4, 8-6, 10-8, and 12-10, the Cats ran off 6 straight on back to back 3 pointers, the first by Aaron Harrison, and the second by Andrew Harrison. The Cats hold an 8 point lead, 18-10, at the under 12 media timeout.

In the third segment, the Cats expand their lead to 11 points, 24-13 at the under 8 media timeout. In the fourth segment, the Cats move on top by a game high 14 points, 29-15, but MSU scores three straight baskets following a UK dry trip and a turnover to trim the lead back to 8 points, 29-21, forcing Coach Calipari to call a timeout with 4:31 remaining in the first half. The Cats stop the MSU run with a pair of free throws by Karl Anthony Towns to lead by 10, 31-21 at the under 4 media timeout. In the final segment, MSU trimmed the lead to 6 points before Tyler Ulis made a 3 pointer just before the buzzer to send the Cats to the locker room with a 9 point lead, 36-27.

The first half was played at a pace of 31 possessions (62 game pace). The Cats scored its 36 points on 32 possessions (1.12 ppp) and MISSISSIPPI STATE scored 27 points on 31 possessions (0.87 ppp). The Cats shot well in the first half making 14-30 (46.7%) overall and 3-7 (42.9%) from outside the arc. MISSISSIPPI STATE shot well for the half, making 10-17 (58.8%) inside the arc, and the Bulldogs were 0-6 (0.0%) shooting the ball from outside the arc. From the line, UK made 5-5 (100.0%) while MISSISSIPPI STATE made 7-10 (70.0%). Kentucky won the battle of the boards in the first half, out rebounding the Bulldogs 16-14 overall. The Cats won the offensive glass 5-3, and won the second chance point battle 4-0.

The Cats committed 5 turnovers (15.6% of possessions) and forced 6 MISSISSIPPI STATE turnovers (19.4% of possessions).

Second Half:

MSU opens play in the second half and trim the lead to 5 points, 36-31 before a 3 pointer by Devin Booker moves the lead back to 8. However, a run out basket off a Cat turnover allows MSU to pull within 6 points. Following another UK missed shot, MSU had trouble getting the ball over the timeline, and called a timeout as the ball handler fell onto the floor with 16:21. MSU has moved their offensive attack to nothing but drives, and they either make the basket or draw a foul, getting 2 free throws. The Dogs are only 3-6 from the line in this half, otherwise, this margin would only be 4 points instead of 7 at the under 16 media timeout with the Cats on top 41-34. However, after the timeout, MSU will have another pair of free throws.

In the second segment, the MSU strategy continues to send them to the line. They had 6 more free throws attempts in the segment, 12 in the half, and after the under 12 media timeout, they will be at the line for another pair of free throws. The barrage of fouls is getting the Cats into foul trouble. Dakari Johnson is already on the bench with 4 fouls, and Willie Cauley Stein just picked up his third foul. For the game, MSU has had 22 free throws to only 7 for the Cats. MSU has been the clear aggressor in this game, and but for their inability to make a higher percentage of their free throws, they would be within 1 or 2 possession of the Cats rather than the 10 points, 49-39, at the break.

In the third segment, MSU missed the first and made the second free throw to ease back into single digits, 49-40, but the Cats ran off 9 points to open the lead to a game high 18, 58-40, forcing MSU to take a timeout to regroup with 9:17 remaining. The Cats get another basket to extend the lead to 20, 60-40, before MSU stops the run with a free throw. After the free throw, the Cats score, block a MSU shot, and get an offensive rebound basket with a foul to extend the lead to 23 points, 64-41 at the under 8 media timeout with 7:17 remaining, and Trey Lyles will have a free throw after the timeout to complete the 3 point play.

In the fourth segment, the Cats scored 7 on 6 possessions, but MSU managed 9 points on 7 possessions to trim the lead from 23 to 21 points, 71-50 at the under 4 media timeout with 3:42 remaining. After the final media timeout, Andrew Harrison will have a pair of free throws. MSU closes the game stronger than the Cats for a final margin of 18 points, 74-56.

The Cats move to 28-0, claiming the longest single season winning streak in UK history from the 95-96 championship team that won 27 in a row between losses to Massachusetts and Mississippi State. The only UK consecutive win record that remains unclaimed by this team is the 32 game streak that spanned seasons.


UK scored its 74 points in 65 possessions (1.139 ppp) for the game, and MISSISSIPPI STATE scored its 56 points on 65 possessions (0.862 ppp).

Kentucky won the rebounding battle 38-30, and Kentucky and Mississippi State each claimed 7 offensive rebounds. Mississippi State used its 7 second chance possessions more efficiently, scoring 12 second chance points to only 9 for the Cats. MISSISSIPPI STATE had an offensive efficiency of 0.677 ppp on its 65 first chance possessions and 1.714 ppp for its 7 second chance possessions. UK had 1.000 ppp on its 65 first chance possessions and 1.286 ppp on its 7-second chance possessions. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed a weak 23.3% of its misses as offensive rebounds while MISSISSIPPI STATE was able to convert 20.0% of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.

UK hit well from the free throw line in this game, making 12-13 [92.3%]. MISSISSIPPI STATE made 16-27 [59.3%] for the game. Field goal shooting for UK was 28-57 overall [49.1%] and 6-13 from long range [46.2%]. For MISSISSIPPI STATE , their field goal shooting from inside the arc was 17-40 [42.5%] and from long range, MISSISSIPPI STATE hit 2-11 [18.2%].

The Cats committed 9 turnovers, one for every 7.2 possessions. The Cats forced 8 MISSISSIPPI STATE turnovers, one for every 8.1 possessions.

Next Game On Schedule: Saturday afternoon, February 28, 2015 against Arkansas in the 16 th SEC game of the 2015 season at Rupp Arena.

Submitted by Richard Cheeks

Submitted by Richard Cheeks


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