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2014-15 Season Analytical Writings
And then there were 2; two games remaining in the 2014-15 regular season for the Kentucky Wildcats. The Cats enter this last week of the season the unanimous #1 team in the nation, undefeated over all at 29-0 and undefeated in the SEC at 16-0. On Saturday afternoon at Rupp Arena, the Cats made a strong statement by taking the Hogs out of the game by the first media timeout, constantly building their lead to 16 points at the half and a game high 31 point lead with about 8 minutes remaining in the game. At that point, the Cats coasted home to a convincing 18 win in a game that the talking heads expected to be close, to pose a serious challenge to the Cats' unbeaten status.
Well, the Hogs are the second best team in the SEC this year, and they are currently ranked, but neither of those factors could translate into a serious challenge for these Cats. Now, the drum beat seems strangely similar as the Cats travel to Athens Georgia for their last road game. The prognosticators say this Georgia team “can be” dangerous. This Georgia team has the best chance to derail the unbeaten Cats. Translated, the Georgia Bulldogs are the final stop and glimmer of hope held by UK haters that the 29-0 does not become 30-0. However, it is their hope primarily because Georgia is the next opponent, not because Georgia has the players needed to beat this UK team.
Hope against hope. That is all that this UK team has left for the hater.
Georgia came to Rupp a month ago. The Cats raced out to an early lead that held at 15 points at halftime. However, in the second half, the Dawgs became the aggressors, on the boards, and trimmed the lead to only 5 points before falling to the Cats by 11, 69-58. The Dawgs managed to get back into the game by out rebounding the Cats by 12. In 29 games, the Cats have lost the battle of the Boards four times, to Texas, to UNC, to South Carolina, and to the Georgia Bulldogs.
Much has been made of the fact that in that first meeting, Georgia played without the services of Marcus Thornton. He is back for the Dawgs now. However, the Cats were also shorthanded for the first meeting because Trey Lyles was unable to play that evening. Both teams will have these players available when they tangle on Tuesday evening in Athens.
GEORGIA's Bulldogs have played 28 games at an average tempo of about 67 possessions per game, scoring 69.1 ppg (1.03 ppp) and allowing an average 64.3 ppg (0.95 ppp). GEORGIA has turned the ball over on 19.2% of its possessions while forcing turnovers on 17.1% of opponent possessions. On the Boards, GEORGIA has secured an offensive rebounding rate of 32.7%, and a defensive rebounding rate of 70.9%.
In contrast, the Cats have averaged about 65 possessions per game, producing 75.0 ppg (1.14 ppp) and allowing 53.2ppg (0.816 ppp). The Cats have committed turnovers on 16.8% of its possessions and forced turnovers on 22.2% of opponent possessions. On the Boards, the Cats' rebounding rates have been 41.1% and 67.9% on the offensive and defensive ends.
The Bulldogs' schedule strength stands at 0.874 (#23), and the Cats' schedule strength is 0.6576 (#42).
Based on this distribution, the analysis tips in favor of KENTUCKY by 11 points, 71-60 in a game played at a pace of 66 possessions for the Cats and 66 possessions for GEORGIA . Pomeroy figures the Game in Kentucky's favor by 9 points, 67-58 at a pace of 63 possessions. Vegas opened at Kentucky -10. The March towards March Madness in Search of Perfection will continue Tuesday evening at 9 PM in Athens, Georgia.
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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.
The Cats control the opening tip, and Trey Lyles works on the blocks to get the game's first score. Willie Cauley Stein commits a foul on UGA's first possession. After Georgia makes one of two from the line, the Cats move on top 6-3, but a foul by Aaron Harrison allowed Georgia to again make 1 of 2 free throws to pull within 2, 6-4, at the under 16 media timeout with in possession. The Cats are unable to score, and Jurisuch gets Karl Anthony Towns to commit his first foul, and the two free throws ties the score at 6-6. Over the balance of the second segment, the teams trade baskets to a score of 12-11 Kentucky, but Georgia scores the next 4 points and gets 3 straight stops to take a 15-12 lead and possession at the under 12 media timeout, with 10:55 remaining. Out of the break, the Cats get a defensive stop, and score by going inside to Karl Anthony Towns, and then Tyler Ulis forces a turnover, leading to a Willie Cauley Stein slam at the other end, allowing the Cats to move back into the lead. UGA takes a timeout with 9:50 remaining. After the timeout, the UGA offense appears to stall when they must inbound the ball under their own basket with only 1 second on the shot clock, but they get the ball in, and make a 3 pointer just under the buzzer. Devin Booker answers with a 3 pointer, and following a Georgia miss, the Cats get a second chance slam by Marcus Lee to move on top by 3, 21-18, prompting another timeout by UGA with 7:55 remaining. The Bulldogs miss their shot after the timeout, but Marcus Lee loses the rebound out of bounds, sending the game to the under 8 media timeout with 7:19 remaining in the first half.
After Andrew Harrison fouls Jurasich, UGA has trouble putting the ball into play, and must call another timeout, their third of the game. However, after the timeout, UGA scores on the inbounds pass. The teams continue to trade baskets and move in and out of a 1 point lead to the under 4 media timeout, with the Dogs leading by 1, 24-23 and the Cats in possession. The Cats go on a 8-3 run to take a 5 point lead, 32-27, but the Dawgs score the last 5 points of the half to tie the score, 32-32 at the half.
The first half was played at a pace of 34 possessions (68 game pace). The Cats scored its 32 points on 34 possessions (0.942 ppp) and GEORGIA scored 32 points on 34 possessions (0.942 ppp). The Cats shot poorly in the first half making 11-33 (33.3%) overall and 2-6 (33.3%) from outside the arc. GEORGIA shot well for the half, making 11-20 (55.0%) inside the arc, and the Bulldogs were 1-8 (12.5%) shooting the ball from outside the arc. From the line, UK made 8-12 (66.7%) while GEORGIA made 7-11 (63.6%). Georgia won the battle of the boards in the first half, out rebounding the Cats 24-19 overall. The Dawgs and Cats each grabbed 4 offensive rebounds, and Kentucky won the second chance point battle 6-5.
The Cats committed 0 turnovers (0.0% of possessions) and forced 5 GEORGIA turnovers (14.7% of possessions).
Georgia opens the second half with a 3 pointer to move on top by 3, and completing a 8-0 run spanning the last 90 seconds of the first half. Aaron Harrison answered with a 3 pointer of his own, a basket and a pair of free throws to move the Cats up by 4. The teams traded baskets for the remainder of the segment. At the under 16 media timeout, the Cats lead 43-39, and Georgia has the ball. In the second segment, it is all UGA with 6 straight points to regain the lead, 45-43, forcing Coach Calipari to take the Cats' first timeout of the game.
Out of the timeout, the Cats continue to find a lid on their basket, and Georgia extends their lead to 7 points, the final nail on a 3 pointer from NBA range, prompting another UK timeout with the Cats down 50-43 with 11:43 remaining. After this timeout, the Cats get back to back buckets from Karl Anthony Towns, but they do not cut into the UGA lead as UGA scores on each of its possessions to negate the affect of Towns' baskets, and then Willie Cauley Stein loses the ball when he makes a move toward the basket, turning the ball over at the under 12 media timeout with only 9:35 remaining in the game, and the Dawgs leading by 7, 54-47 and in possession of the ball.
The Dawg score again to move on top by 9 points, 56-47. Aaron Harrison hits a 3 pointer, Karl Anthony Towns gets a put back basket, and Marcus Lee gets a slam on the lob from Andrew Harrison to cut the lead to 2, 56-54 at the under 8 media timeout with only 6:55 remaining in the game and UGA in possession of the ball. In the 4 th segment, the Cats complete their comeback and tie the score at 62-62. Just before the under 4 media timeout, the Cats force the Dawgs' 11 th turnover, and the Dawgs foul Andrew Harrison who came out with the ball.
On the Cats' first possession, Karl Anthony Towns misses, gets his own miss, puts it in and is fouled. When he completes the 3 point lead, the Cats lead by 3. The Cats stop the Dawgs again, and Karl Anthony Towns scores again to lift the Cats on top by 5. Another defensive stop, and Aaron Harrison is fouled, making 1 of 2. The Cats trailed 62-56, and since that time, the Cats have run 12 straight points. During this run, the Dawgs missed the front end of three straight 1+1 situations, including the third time with the Cats up 6, 68-62 with 44 seconds remaining.
The Cats have the ball at mid court, with 33.8 seconds remaining, and 25 second on the shot clock, but when Aaron Harrison could not get the ball in, he had to burn the Cats' last timeout. The Cats get the ball in to Karl Anthony Towns who UGA immediately fouls with 33.4 remaining in the game. He makes them both. UGA finally gets a score, and they foul Andrew Harrison. Andrew Harrison missed the front end, and following two missed 3 pointers, followed by offensive rebounds, Karl Anthony Towns fouls out with 11.1 seconds remaining. UGA missed both free throws, and foul Devin Booker on the rebound with 9.3 seconds remaining. He makes them both and the Cats win by 8, 72-64 to move to 30-0 on the season.
UK scored its 72 points in 66 possessions (1.091 ppp) for the game, and GEORGIA scored its 64 points on 67 possessions (0.955 ppp).
Georgia won the rebounding battle 41-38, and Kentucky won the offensive rebounding 11-9. The Cats also won the second chance point battle 15-9. GEORGIA had an offensive efficiency of 0.821 ppp on its 67 first chance possessions and 1.000 ppp for its 9 second chance possessions. UK had 0.864 ppp on its 66 first chance possessions and 1.364 ppp on its 11-second chance possessions. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed 25.6% of its misses as offensive rebounds while GEORGIA was able to convert 25.0% of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.
UK hit well from the free throw line in this game, making 18-25 [72.0%]. GEORGIA made 9-18 [50.0%] for the game. Field goal shooting for UK was 25-63 overall [39.7%] and 4-15 from long range [26.7%]. For GEORGIA , their field goal shooting from inside the arc was 23-38 [60.5%] and from long range, GEORGIA hit 3-18 [17.6%].
The Cats committed 3 turnovers, one for every 22.0 possessions. The Cats forced 11 GEORGIA turnovers, one for every 6.1 possessions.Next Game On Schedule: Saturday afternoon, March 7, 2015 against Florida in the 18 th SEC game of the 2015 season in Athens, Georgia.
Submitted by Richard Cheeks
Submitted by Richard Cheeks