2014-15 Season Analytical Writings

Cats Advance To Face Cincinnati

Coach Calipari was not pleased with his team's 23 point victory over the outmanned Hampton Pirates. He lamented the lackadaisical start that allow the Pirates to briefly lead 3-4 and high around for about 12 minutes within 4 points, 18-14. He lamented the sloppy way his team finished the game from a 35 point lead with 10:25 remaining to the final 23 point margin, allowing Hampton to close on a 24-12 run. In between the unacceptable start and finish, the Cats dominated, just as they should have against this level of competition, outscoring the Pirates 47-14 over a span of 17 minutes.

The goal is to win this championship, and Coach Calipari knows his team will not succeed in that quest without playing full games, from tip to final buzzer. Last night, Coach Calipari recognized that his team's effort will not be successful starting with the Cats' encounter on Saturday against the Cincinnati Bearcats.

Hampton played its 2014-15 season at an average tempo of about 70 possessions per game, which is the 9 th fastest pace for D1 teams this season. In contrast, Cincinnati played its 2014-15 season at an average tempo of about 60 possessions per game, which is the 11 th slowest pace for D1 teams this season. Most observers have opined that teams that want to challenge the Kentucky Wildcats this year will have a better chance to do that by preventing the Cats from playing a 94 foot game, and limit their possessions. Examples of teams capable of doing this and legitimately challenging these Cats have included Wisconsin and Virginia, teams that have played the 5 th and 3 rd slowest tempos this season. The NCAA field today totals 48 teams, and 5 of them are in this slow tempo group defined by UVA, Wisconsin, and Cincinnati.

To be fair, Cincinnati is no Wisconsin or UVA. Offensively, the Bearcats rank #89 while the Badgers are #1 and the Wahoos are #25. Defensively, the Bearcats rank #17 while the Badgers are #31 and the Wahoos are #1. However, Cincinnati is completely worthy of the 8 Seed that the NCAA assigned to them for this tournament as the #34 most efficient basketball team in the country this season. For comparison purposes with teams more familiar to the Big Blue Nation, Cincinnati is similar to #36 Vanderbilt and #33 Georgia.

Cincinnati claimed a pair of wins this season over #23 SMU, by 6 at home and by 8 on the road. However, Cincinnati's wins over SMU do not define their competitive ceiling because SMU represents the strongest opponent on their schedule this entire season. The Bearcats have some explaining to do about losses to #236 Tulane at home and #227 East Carolina by 4 on the road. The Bearcats and the Wildcats share one common opponent this season, Mississippi. The Bearcats lost to Ole Miss by 12 on a neutral court in November, and as the Big Blue Nation will never forget, Ole Miss extended these unbeaten Cats into overtime at Rupp Arena in early January.

Cincinnati won their last 5 games of the regular season, and 6 of their last 7 games. They lost to UConn by 3 in the opening round of the AAC post season tournament last week. The Bearcats defeated Purdue last night by 1 point in OT to advance to this round of 32 encounter with their neighbors to their south.

CINCINNATI's Bearcats have played 34 games at an average tempo of about 59 possessions per game, scoring 60.6 ppg (1.027 ppp) and allowing an average 53.9 ppg (0.915 ppp). CINCINNATI has turned the ball over on 20.8% of its possessions while forcing turnovers on 20.0% of opponent possessions. On the Boards, CINCINNATI has secured an offensive rebounding rate of 36.9%, and a defensive rebounding rate of 67.7%.

In contrast, the Cats have averaged about 65 possessions per game, producing 75.0 ppg (1.145 ppp) and allowing 54.0 ppg (0.829 ppp). The Cats have committed turnovers on 16.3% of its possessions and forced turnovers on 21.4% of opponent possessions. On the Boards, the Cats' rebounding rates have been 40.2% and 68.9% on the offensive and defensive ends.

The Bearcats' schedule strength stands at 0..5645 (#95), and the Cats' schedule strength is 0.6582 (#44).

Based on this distribution, the analysis tips in favor of KENTUCKY by 16 points, 69-53 in a game played at a pace of 62 possessions for the Cats and 62 possessions for CINCINNATI. Pomeroy figures the Game in Kentucky's favor by 11 points, 64-53 at a pace of 59 possessions. Vegas has set this game at Kentucky -17, 68-51.

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

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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 their first possession. UC manages to get the first basket and lead at 2-0, and again at 4-2. Karl Anthony Towns makes a pair of free throws to tie the score at 4-4 at the under 16 media timeout. In the second segment, UC moves back on top by a bucket, which the Cats answered with a lob delivered by Tyler Ulis for a dunk by Willie Cauley Stein. However, UC hit the game's first 3 pointer to forge a 9-6 lead. The game moved to the under 12 media timeout on the Cats' second turnover, with the Cats down 9-6. The Bearcats maintained the lead until Aaron Harrison made the Cats' first 3 pointer, followed by a basket by Trey Lyles to give the Cats their first lead of the game, 15-13. UC answered with their second 3 pointer to move back into the lead by a point, but Trey Lyles drove into the teeth of the UC defense for a dunk to put the Cats back on top. Tyler Ulis stole the ball on the next possession and was fouled on his drive to the basket, sending the game to the under 8 media timeout. Tyler Ulis will have a pair of free throws after the break.

Tyler Ulis makes them both to give the Cats their biggest lead, 3 points, to match UC's 3 point lead. However, UC answers to pull back to a 1 point deficit, and the Bearcats then score 4 straight to move back on top, 22-21, prompting Coach Calipari to take a timeout with 4:46 remaining in the first half. The Cats have only made 6 of 23 shots while UC has made 10-21. The Cats are staying in the game with 8-10 shooting from the line. UC has not shot a free throw so far in the game.

Out of the time out, the Cats commit back to back turnovers to fall behind by 3 points again at 24-21. However, a layup by Devin Booker followed by a fast break slam dunk by Willie Cauley Stein lifted the Cats back into the lead, 25-24, at the under 4 media timeout. Willie Cauley Stein will have one free throw after the break to try to complete his 3 point play. Willie makes his free throw, and then a basket by Tyler Ulis and a 3 pointer by Aaron Harrison lifts the Cats to a 7 point lead, 31-24, forcing a Bearcat timeout with just 38 seconds remaining in the half, which is the score at the half.

The Cats finished the first half with a 10-0 run to convert a 3 point deficit into the 7 point halftime lead.

The first half was played at a pace of 29 possessions (58 game pace). The Cats scored its 31 points on 29 possessions (1.07 ppp) and CINCINNATI scored 24 points on 29 possessions (0.83 ppp). The Cats shot poorly in the first half making 10-29 (34.5%) overall and 2-9 (22.2%) from outside the arc. CINCINNATI shot well for the half, making 9-19 (47.4%) inside the arc, and the Bearcats were 2-7 (28.6%) shooting the ball from outside the arc. From the line, UK made 9-11 (81.8%) while CINCINNATI made did not get to the charity stripe (0.0%). Kentucky won the battle of the boards in the first half, out rebounding the Bearcats 19-15 overall. The Cats won the offensive rebounds 8-4, but the Bearcats won the battle of second chance points, 6-5.

The Cats committed 4 turnovers (13.8% of possessions) and forced 7 CINCINNATI turnovers (24.1% of possessions).

Second Half:

UC starts the second half by going directly to Ellis in the paint where he drew a foul and got the Bearcats' first free throws of the game. The Cats seem to open cold from the field again in this half like they did at the top of the game, and the Bearcats get a fast break 3 point play to pull within 3 points, 31-28. The Cats answer to move back on top by 5. On the next possession, Trey Lyles is fouled making a move to the basket by Lee. After the play, Lee pushes Trey Lyles, and the officials move in to separate them. Then Aaron Harrison bumps Lee as he walks past, and the official assesses a technical foul on Aaron Harrison. Trey Lyles missed his free throws, and UC makes both of the technical free throws to trim the lead back to 3 points. Andrew Harrison scores on a penetration into the paint taking the game to the under 16 media timeout with the Cats leading 35-30.


After the timeout, Lee answers for UC with a bucket. Willie Cauley Stein scores on a post move, and following a UC missed shot, Devin Booker makes a layup in transition to put the Cats back on top by 7, 39-32, prompting a UC timeout with 14:36 remaining. Over the balance of the segment, the Bearcats trim the lead to 5 before Aaron Harrison drains his 3 rd 3 pointer of the game to lift the Cats to their biggest lead of the day, 8 points, 43-34, at the under 12 media timeout. UC will have a pair of free throws after the break.

After making 1 of 2 free throws to trim the lead back to 7, Trey Lyles makes a pair of free throws at the other end to extend the lead to 9, and following a steal by Dakari Johnson, Andrew Harrison gets a layup in transition to give the Cats their first double digit lead of the game, 11, 46-35, forcing another UC timeout with 9:26 remaining.

After the timeout, UC gets a put back basket, but Andrew Harrison makes a driving layup at the end of the shot clock, and is fouled for a 3 point play to put the Cats up by 12, 49-37. The Cats take an 11 point lead, 50-39, to the bench for the under 8 media timeout. The Cats extend their lead to a game high 13 points, 56-43, at the under 4 media timeout, and after the media timeout, Tyler Ulis will have a pair of free throws to stretch the lead 1 or 2 points higher.

Cats win 64-51, advance to the Midwest Regional in Cleveland with a perfect 36-0 record. At 36-0, the Cats now claim the longest winning streak in a single season in NCAA history. Another page of the record book that this team has rewritten. Tonight, the Cats return to Lexington 4 games shy of a perfect season.


UK scored its 64 points in 62 possessions (1.032 ppp) for the game, and CINCINNATI scored its 51 points on 62 possessions (0.823 ppp).

Cincinnati won the rebounding battle 45-38, and Cincinnati won the offensive rebounding 21-12 The Bearcats won the second chance point battle 14-8. CINCINNATI had an offensive efficiency of 0.567 ppp on its 62 first chance possessions and 0.667 ppp for its 21 second chance possessions. UK had 0.903 ppp on its 62 first chance possessions and 0.667 ppp on its 12-second chance possessions. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed 33.3% of its misses as offensive rebounds while CINCINNATI was able to convert 44.7% of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.

UK hit well from the free throw line in this game, making 20-28 [71.4%]. CINCINNATI made 9-14 [64.3%] for the game. Field goal shooting for UK was 20-54 overall [37.0%] and 4-15 from long range [26.7%]. For CINCINNATI, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was 18-49 [36.7%] and from long range, CINCINNATI hit 2-14 [14.3%].

The Cats committed 7 turnovers, one for every 8.9 possessions. The Cats forced 14 CINCINNATI turnovers, one for every 4.4 possessions.

Next Game On Schedule: Thursday evening in the NCAA Sweet 16 against the winner of tomorrow's game between Maryland and West Virginia.

Submitted by Richard Cheeks

Submitted by Richard Cheeks


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