2014-15 Season Analytical Writings

Cats Advance Past Florida; Will Face Auburn In Semifinals

On Wednesday night, the Auburn Tigers played the Mississippi State Bulldogs in the first game of the SEC Tournament. Usually, the two first round games of this tournament on a Wednesday night mean little when considered in the context of who will be playing for the SEC Tournament title on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. But, no one told Bruce Pearl or his band of scrappy Auburn Tigers. All Bruce Pearl seems to do is inspire his players to achieve more than the players believed possible prior to Pearl's contagious excitement.

The Auburn Tigers beat Mississippi State in what had to be regarded a mild upset, if an upset at all. However, no one expected the Tigers could slip past the Texas A&M Aggies, a team needing at least one SEC Tournament win to secure an at large bid to the big dance. But, the Auburn Tigers refused to go home, and sent the aggies packing their bags on Thursday. Ok, that's nice Bruce. Your team has made its point, and surely it is time for you and your Tigers to go home on Friday after you must face the LSU Tigers in the tournament's quarterfinals.

Not so fast. Bruce Pearl and his Tigers are still not ready to go home and pack up their basketball shorts and sneakers until next season. They played from behind the LSU Tigers the entire ball game, but an LSU shot clock violation as the clock approached 0:00 gave Bruce the opening they needed to make a 3 pointer just ahead of the buzzer to send the game to OT. In OT, Auburn earned its first lead of the game, and never looked back.

Now, Bruce, it is really time for you to go home. Once was nice. Twice was cute. Thrice was shocking. Fourth can't be allowed to occur.

Three weeks ago, Bruce Pearl brought his Tigers into Rupp arena. He left that night a 35 point loser, 110-75. However, consider that only one team has put up more points on this UK defense than Auburn did that night. One of the reasons for the Auburn points explosion was the tempo of the game was the fastest of the season with 81 possessions. If Coach Pearl wants a 94 foot affair again on Saturday, I am sure the Cats will accommodate him, because 3 weeks ago when Pearl brought that strategy to the game, the Cats took full advantage of the opportunity putting up 110 points (1.34 points per possession), the third most efficient offensive outburst of the entire season.

AUBURN's Tigers have played 34 games at an average tempo of about 69 to 70 possessions per game, scoring 67.2 ppg (0.97 ppp) and allowing an average 71.8 ppg (1.02 ppp). AUBURN has turned the ball over on 19.0% of its possessions while forcing turnovers on 20.7% of opponent possessions. On the Boards, AUBURN has secured an offensive rebounding rate of 27.1%, and a defensive rebounding rate of 66.5%.

In contrast, the Cats have averaged about 65 possessions per game, producing 74.3 ppg (1.14 ppp) and allowing 53.3 ppg (0.82 ppp). The Cats have committed turnovers on 16.2% of its possessions and forced turnovers on 22.1% of opponent possessions. On the Boards, the Cats' rebounding rates have been 40.4% and 68.2% on the offensive and defensive ends.

The Tigers ' schedule strength stands at 0.6886 (#26), and the Cats' schedule strength is 0.6682 (#38).

Based on this distribution, the analysis tips in favor of KENTUCKY by 25 points, 79-54 in a game played at a pace of 68 possessions for the Cats and 67 possessions for AUBURN . Pomeroy figures the Game in Kentucky's favor by 21 points, 78-57 at a pace of 66 possessions. Vegas has opened with a 24 point line in favor of the Cats.

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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.

The Cats control the opening tip but fail to score on the first possession, but Auburn does so on its first chance for a 2-0 lead. The Cats then hit 2-2 from the field, 2-2 from 3 point range, and 5-5 from the line to move out to a 15-4 lead at the under 16 media timeout. In the second segment, the game takes a turn towards contentiousness between the teams, and a flurry of fouls take both teams into the bonus early in the game. The official tighten the whistle in an attempt to reign in the players, and get some control on the court. At the under 12 media timeout, the Cats lead 24-8. In the third segment, Auburn made 4-4 from the line, and 1-5 from the field, and the Cats advanced to a 32-14 lead at the under 8 media timeout with 7:15 remaining. After the timeout, Willie Cauley Stein will have one free throw attempt to complete a 3 point play.

In the fourth segment, the Cats are outscored for the first segment of the day, 8-6 as Auburn trimmed the UK lead to 16, 38-22, at the under 4 media timeout. The score at the half is 47-29.

The first half was played at a pace of 34 possessions (68 game pace). The Cats scored its 47 points on 34 possessions (1.38 ppp) and AUBURN scored 29 points on 34 possessions (0.853 ppp). The Cats shot well in the first half making 19-35 (57.7%) overall and 4-9 (44.4%) from outside the arc. AUBURN shot well for the half, making 6-14 (42.9%) inside the arc, and the Tigers were 1-11 (9.1%) shooting the ball from outside the arc. From the line, UK made 13-15 (86.7%) while AUBURN made 14-17 (82.4%). Kentucky won the battle of the boards in the first half, out rebounding the Tigers 18-13 overall. The Tigers won the offensive rebounds 4-3, but the Cats won the battle of second chance points, 6-0.

The Cats committed 4 turnovers (11.8% of possessions) and forced 5 AUBURN turnovers (14.7% of possessions).

Second Half:

Auburn opens the second half with a basket on its first possession, and over the opening segment out score the Cats 11-8 on just 6 possessions. At the under 16 media timeout, the Cats lead by 15, 55-40. In the second segment, the Cats saw their lead trimmed to just 13 points, 57-44, but the Cats scored the next 6 points to lead by 19, 63-44, at the under 12 media timeout.

In the third segment, the Cats expanded their lead to a game high 27 points, 74-47. A four free throws trimmed the lead back to 23 at the under 8 media timeout, with Karl Anthony Towns set to shoot free throws after the break.

In this game, the Cats have already attempted 26 free throws, and Auburn 29. 55 free throws so far with 7:49 remaining in the game. At the under 4 media timeout, the Cats lead by 25, 83-58 with 3:18 remaining in the game. Cats win 91-67.


UK scored its 91 points in 68 possessions (1.338 ppp) for the game, and AUBURN scored its 67 points on 67 possessions (1.000 ppp).

Kentucky won the rebounding battle 39-25, but Auburn won the offensive rebounding 7-9. The Cats also won the second chance point battle 13-5. AUBURN had an offensive efficiency of 0.925 ppp on its 67 first chance possessions and 0.556 ppp for its 9 second chance possessions. UK had 1.147 ppp on its 68 first chance possessions and 1.857 ppp on its 7-second chance possessions. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed 30.4% of its misses as offensive rebounds while AUBURN was able to convert 22.0% of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.

UK hit well from the free throw line in this game, making 30-35 [85.7%]. AUBURN made 25-34 [73.5%] for the game. Field goal shooting for UK was 27-49 overall [55.1%] and 7-14 from long range [50.0%]. For AUBURN , their field goal shooting from inside the arc was 12-34 [35.3%] and from long range, AUBURN hit 6-20 [30.0%].

The Cats committed 10 turnovers, one for every 6.8 possessions. The Cats forced 7 AUBURN turnovers, one for every 9.6 possessions.

Next Game On Schedule: Sunday afternoon, March 15, 2015 against the winner of a semifinal round game in the SEC Tournament between Arkansas and Georgia at 1 pm in Nashville.

Submitted by Richard Cheeks

Submitted by Richard Cheeks




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