2014-15 Season Analytical Writings

Cats Host Arkansas With Unbeaten Streak At Risk

The 2014-15 season only has three games remaining before the post season tournaments begin. The Cats continued their unbeaten ways on Wednesday night in Starkville, Mississippi by turning back the MSU Bulldogs by 18. The MSU Bulldogs are next to the last in the conference with an adjusted NGE of -0.008 ppp. If the Cats want to transform 28-0 into 29-0, they must next turn back the second most efficient team in the SEC, Arkansas with an adjusted NGE of 0.155 ppp. The overall effort in the MSU game is not likely sufficient to beat a very aggressive and talented group of Razorbacks. Furthermore, even if the Cats are able to get past the Razorbacks Saturday at Rupp Arena, the odds are quite strong that the Cats and the Razorbacks will face off a second time in a little over 2 weeks in the SEC Championship game.

The Hogs pose the most immediate threat to stop the Wildcats' winning streak.

ARKANSAS's Razorbacks have played 28 games at an average tempo of about 72 possessions per game, scoring 79.5 ppg (1.11 ppp) and allowing an average 69.5 ppg (0.96 ppp). ARKANSAS has turned the ball over on 16.3% of its possessions while forcing turnovers on 23.1% of opponent possessions. On the Boards, ARKANSAS has secured an offensive rebounding rate of 35.3%, and a defensive rebounding rate of 66.8%.

In contrast, the Cats have averaged about 65 possessions per game, producing 74.7 ppg (1.14 ppp) and allowing 52.7 ppg (0.811 ppp). The Cats have committed turnovers on 17.0% of its possessions and forced turnovers on 22.4% of opponent possessions. On the Boards, the Cats' rebounding rates have been 41.3% and 67.8% on the offensive and defensive ends.

The Razorbacks' schedule strength stands at 0.5809 (#87), and the Cats' schedule strength is 0.6586 (#39).

Based on this distribution, the analysis tips in favor of KENTUCKY by 22 points, 80-58 in a game played at a pace of 68 possessions for the Cats and 69 possessions for ARKANSAS . Pomeroy figures the Game in Kentucky's favor by 17 points, 80-63 at a pace of 69 possessions. Vegas opened at Kentucky -17. The March towards March in Search of Perfection will continue Saturday afternoon at 4 PM in Rupp Arena.

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:

Coach Calipari starts 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.

Today during warm-ups, Alex Poythress was out with his teammates, on the floor, taking some shooting practice. It is good to see Alex Poythress engaging in any way possible with his mates.

The Cats control the opening tip, and get the game's first basket on a lob to Trey Lyles. The Cats race on top 10-2 in the first 3 minutes, but Karl Anthony Towns gets caught on two early fouls and must go to the bench with 16:41 remaining. The Hogs made 2 free throws from the Karl Anthony Towns foul to trim the early lead to 6, and the team traded scores over the balance of a protracted opening segment. At the under 16 media timeout, the Cats lead by 6, 14-8 with 13:56 remaining and the cats have the ball. In a shortened second segment, each team manages only 1 basket in 4 possessions, and the Cats will have the ball after the timeout with 11:47 remaining and the score 16-10.

In the third segment, the Cats extended their lead to a game high 11 points, 21-10 before a fast break basket by Portis for the Hogs trimmed the lead to 9 at the under 8 media timeout. With 7:57 remaining, Aaron Harrison will have a pair of free throws after the break. The Cats have made 41% of their shots and have held the Hogs to under 30% through 12 minutes of this game. In the fourth segment, the Cats explode for a 11-4 run, finally forcing the Hogs head man to take a timeout to stop the Cats' momentum with the score 32-16 and 5:34 remaining in the first half.

Over the balance of the 4 th segment, the Hogs trim 3 points from the 16 point lead to a 32-19 score at the under 4 media timeout. The Cats respond with a very strong finish for the first half after seeing its 16 point lead cut to only 9 points, 32-23. The Cats then scored 10 of the half's final 13 points to lead by 16, 42-26, at the half.

The first half was played at a pace of 36 possessions (72 game pace). The Cats scored its 42 points on 37 possessions (1.135 ppp) and ARKANSAS scored 26 points on 36 possessions (0.722 ppp). The Cats shot poorly in the first half making 12-30 (40.0%) overall and 3-10 (30.0%) from outside the arc. ARKANSAS shot poorly for the half, making 8-18 (44.4%) inside the arc, and the Razorbacks were 0-9 (0.0%) shooting the ball from outside the arc. From the line, UK made 15-20 (75.0%) while ARKANSAS made 10-12 (83.3%). Kentucky won the battle of the boards in the first half, out rebounding the Razorbacks 24-18 overall. The Cats won the offensive glass 8-4, and won the second chance point battle 11-2.

The Cats committed 5 turnovers (13.5% of possessions) and forced 7 ARKANSAS turnovers (19.4% of possessions).

Second Half:

The Cats open the second half by going to Karl Anthony Towns on the blocks for a layup on Portis to extend their lead to a game high 18 points. However, the Hogs answer with their first 3 pointer, and a 10 foot jump shot basket, prompting Coach Calipari to take a quick timeout with the score 44-31 with 18:59. After the timeout, the Cats responded by pushing the lead to a new game high, 20 points, 53-33. Qualls made the Hogs' second 3 pointer of the half and game to pull back within 17 at the under 16 media timeout.

In the second segment, the Cats move on top 61-40 with 12:31 remaining, and on the last UK score, Hog coach Mike Anderson get a bench technical foul. After the free throws, the Cats work to extend their 23 point lead to 31 points, 78-47 at the under 8 media timeout. In the 4 th segment, the Hogs take advantage of 1 for 5 shooting by the Cats and 5 of 6 free throws at their end to trim the lead back to 23 points, 80-57 at the under media timeout. Cats finish the game with a 17 point win, 84-67.

The Cats move to 29-0, extending the longest single season winning streak in UK history and securing the program's 46 th regular season SEC championship.


UK scored its 84 points in 69 possessions (1.217 ppp) for the game, and ARKANSAS scored its 67 points on 70 possessions (0.957 ppp).

Kentucky won the rebounding battle 38-32, and Kentucky won the offensive rebounding 13-10. The Cats also won the second chance point battle 15-13. ARKANSAS had an offensive efficiency of 0.771 ppp on its 70 first chance possessions and 1.300 ppp for its 13 second chance possessions. UK had 1.000 ppp on its 69 first chance possessions and 1.154 ppp on its 15-second chance possessions. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed 37.1% of its misses as offensive rebounds while ARKANSAS was able to convert 28.6% of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.

UK hit well from the free throw line in this game, making 21-28 [75.0%]. ARKANSAS made 20-25 [80.0%] for the game. Field goal shooting for UK was 29-60 overall [48.3%] and 5-17 from long range [29.4%]. For ARKANSAS , their field goal shooting from inside the arc was 19-38 [42.1%] and from long range, ARKANSAS hit 5-18 [27.8%].

The Cats committed 9 turnovers, one for every 7.7 possessions. The Cats forced 12 ARKANSAS turnovers, one for every 5.8 possessions.

Next Game On Schedule: Tuesday evening, March 3, 2015 against Georgia in the 17 th SEC game of the 2015 season in Athens, Georgia.

Submitted by Richard Cheeks

Submitted by Richard Cheeks


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