2014-15 Season Analytical Writings

Cats Eliminate West Virginia-Next Up Notre Dame in Elite 8

On Thursday night, the Sweet 16 field lost 4 of its members, and on Friday, the field will be condensed to the Elite 8, setting up the four regional championship games for Saturday and Sunday. The Midwest Region will feature Notre Dame and Kentucky at about 8:49 on Saturday night in Cleveland.

Notre Dame advanced to the Elite 8 by eliminating Wichita State, and the Cats advanced by crushing a boisterous bunch of Mountaineers who decided they should poke the bear in the lead up to the game. The bear not only woke up for the encounter, the bear woke up angry at the one who had dared to poke it. The result was an 18-2 start, a 26 point halftime lead, and final margin of 39 points. The Cats moved to 37-0 and their march toward Championship Monday is still progressing

The Fighting Irish have been on fire this post season. On February 7, the Irish succumbed to Duke at Cameron by 30 points to drip to 21-4. However, since then, the Irish have won 11 while only losing once, to Syracuse in South Bend, Indiana by 5 on February 24, and the Irish have now won 8 in a row, including 6 so far in the post season. Notre Dame won the ACC Tournament by beating Duke by 10 and North Carolina by 8 on successive nights. Notre Dame has three losses on their record that is difficult to understand. They lost at #79 Pittsburgh by 4. They lost to #62 Syracuse by 15 at home. They lost to former UK opponent Providence by 1 point on a Neutral court. The Fighting Irish beat Louisville at the Yum Center by 12, and beat North Carolina in Chapel Hill by 1.

NOTRE DAME's Fighting Irish have played 37 games at an average tempo of about 75 to 76 possessions per game, scoring 90.5 ppg (1.194 ppp) and allowing an average 76.0 ppg (1.008 ppp). NOTRE DAME has turned the ball over on 14.4% of its possessions while forcing turnovers on 17.2% of opponent possessions. On the Boards, NOTRE DAME has secured an offensive rebounding rate of 27.5%, and a defensive rebounding rate of 68.0%.

In contrast, the Cats have averaged about 65 possessions per game, producing 74.8 ppg (1.143 ppp) and allowing 53.5 ppg (0.823 ppp). The Cats have committed turnovers on 16.1% of its possessions and forced turnovers on 21.4% of opponent possessions. On the Boards, the Cats' rebounding rates have been 39.9% and 68.6% on the offensive and defensive ends.

The Fighting Irish' schedule strength stands at 0.6232 (#70), and the Cats' schedule strength is 0.6608 (#45).

Based on this distribution, the analysis tips in favor of KENTUCKY by 11 points, 79-68 in a game played at a pace of 70 possessions for the Cats and 70 possessions for NOTRE DAME. Pomeroy figures the Game in Kentucky's favor by 9 points, 73-64 at a pace of 67 possessions. Vegas has set this game at Kentucky -11 1/2.

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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, and they manage to score on a lob to Trey Lyles, but ND scored on 2 of their 5 shots, and obtained offensive rebounds on 2 of their 3 misses to move on top 4-3 at the under 16 media timeout. In the first 4 minutes, each team committed 3 turnovers. Coach Calipari has inserted the second platoon into the game with Tyler Ulis, Devin Booker, Marcus Lee, and Dakari Johnson joining Trey Lyles on the court. In the second segment, ND scores to establish the game's first 3 point lead, but Devin Booker drains a 3 pointer to catch up at 6-6. The Cats then move on top 8-6, but ND's first 3 pointer lifted them back into the lead at 9-8. Willie Cauley Stein got a put back basket, and Devin Booker got behind the ND defense following an Irish turnover to put the Cats on top 12-11 at the under12 media timeout.

In the second segment, the Irish added 2 more turnovers to their total while the Cats did not turn the ball over in the segment. After the timeout, Grant hits a jumper, and Andrew Harrison answers with a drive into the lane, where he was fouled and made both shots. The Irish score again to regain the lead, and the Cats commit their 4 th turnover. After the Irish go back on top by 3 again, 17-14, Karl Anthony Towns makes a 3 point play to tie the score, and a hook shot from the center of the lane to give the Cats a 2 point lead, 19-17, at the under 8 media timeout, and the Cats will have possession after the break.

In the 4 th segment, ND moved from 2 down to up by 3 points again to lead 24-21 at the under 4 media timeout with 3:10 remaining in the first half. After the timeout, Aaron Harrison will have a pair of free throws. Each team has 6 turnovers and 5 offensive rebounds. However, ND has made 11 of 24 shots while the Cats have been missing at close range and have only made 7 of 21 attempts. The Cats have stayed in this game with a 6-1 advantage on points at the free throw line. Each team has 4 second chance points.

The teams battle through the final 3 minutes to a 31-31 deadlock at the half.

The first half was played at a pace of 30 to 31 possessions (61game pace). The Cats scored its 31 points on 31 possessions (1.00 ppp) and NOTRE DAME scored 31 points on 30 possessions (1.03 ppp). The Cats shot poorly in the first half making 10-27 (37.0%) overall and 1-3 (33.3%) from outside the arc. NOTRE DAME shot well for the half, making 12-23 (52.2%) inside the arc, and the Fighting Irish were 1-5 (20.0%) shooting the ball from outside the arc. From the line, UK made 10-12 (83.3%) while NOTRE DAME made 4-4 (100.0%). Kentucky won the battle of the boards in the first half, out rebounding the Fighting Irish 18-15 overall. Kentucky won the offensive rebounds 8-5, but the Cats won the battle of second chance points, 8-4.

The Cats committed 7 turnovers (22.6% of possessions) and forced 6 NOTRE DAME turnovers (20.0% of possessions).

Second Half:

The Cats open the second half going inside to Karl Anthony Towns who scores. After a Kentucky 3 pointer by Devin Booker and another inside score by Karl Anthony Towns, the Cats move out to their biggest lead, 5 points, 38-33. However, ND answers with a 13-4 run of their own to move on top by 4 points, 46-42, forcing a Kentucky timeout with 14:24 remaining in the game. The Cats have opened the second half making 5 of 7 shots, but ND has been even more accurate, making 6 of 8 shots and a pair of free throws.

So far, in the battle of the #1 offense against the #1 defense, the offensive side of the game is controlling the game for the Irish. At the under 16 media timeout, with 13:20 remaining, the score remains 46-42 with the Irish in possession under their own basket. The Irish's biggest lead is the 4 point lead they now hold. The Cats' biggest lead was the 5 point lead they held briefly at the beginning of the second half after an 8-3 run to open the half. When play resumes, each team manages to score once before the under 12 media timeout with 11:15 remaining. The whistle that took the game to this media timeout was an offensive foul on Karl Anthony Towns, his third foul, and the Cats' leading scorer in the game. ND will have the ball when play resumes.

With 11 minutes remaining, the Irish have won the points in the point, 32-26. In the third segment, the Cats claw back to within 1 point, 50-49, but the Irish get a bucket just before a timeout to move back on top by 3, 52-49, with 8:13 remaining in the game. Karl Anthony Towns returned to the floor with his 3 rd foul. After the timeout, the teams trade baskets, and then ND gets a bucket on its third shot of the possession to move back on top by 3. Following a UK turnover on the next possession, ND drains a 3 pointer in transition to move on top by 6, 59-53, with 6:10 remaining in the game. Coach Calipari takes a time out.

Out of the timeout, Tyler Ulis makes a 3 pointer from the corner but ND gets a basket at the other that draws Karl Anthony Towns's 4 th foul, and will give ND a chance to go back on top by 6 points with a free throw after a timeout with 5:22 remaining. The first ND free throw miss of the night leaves the margin at 5 points. A drive by Aaron Harrison is matched by 1 for 2 from the line by the Irish. Karl Anthony Towns returns to the game, and gets a 3 point play to pull within 1 point, 62-61 with 4:07 remaining. ND draws a foul on a drive to the basket sending the game to the under 4 media timeout with 3:45 remaining, the Cats down 61-62, and ND shooting free throws after the timeout.

After the timeout, ND made the first, missed the second, and Aaron Harrison drained a 3 pointer from NBA length to put the Cats on top by 1 point, 64-63. ND took a timeout with 2:48 remaining, and 14 on the shot clock. Grant drains a 3 pointer from NBA range as the shot clock expires to put the Irish back up by 2 points, 66-64. Coach Calipari takes a timeout. Andrew Harrison commits a turnover by stepping on the baseline as he drove under the basket for a pass out to Aaron Harrison in the opposite corner. Aaron Harrison drained the 3 pointer to no avail.

When ND has difficulty handling the ball on the inbounds, Coach Brey takes a timeout. After ND misses, Karl Anthony Towns scores to tie the score at 66-66. On the ND possession, the shot is blocked out of bounds with the shot clock at 1 second and ND will be able to inbound and attempt a shot. The shot clock expires and the Cats get the ball with 33.6 seconds remaining and the score tied. The Cats run the clock down to about 6 seconds, and Andrew Harrison drives to the rack where he is fouled. After making them both, ND is unable to get a shot off and the Cats win 68-66 to move to 38-0 and advance to the Final 4 to face Wisconsin.


UK scored its 68 points in 56 possessions (1.214 ppp) for the game, and NOTRE DAME scored its 66 points on 55 possessions (1.200 ppp).

Kentucky won the rebounding battle 29-28, and NOTRE DAME won the offensive rebounding 13-10. Each team scored 10 second chance points. NOTRE DAME had an offensive efficiency of 1.018 ppp on its 55 first chance possessions and 0.769 ppp for its 13 second chance possessions. UK had 1.036 ppp on its 56 first chance possessions and 1.000 ppp on its 10-second chance possessions. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed 40.0% of its misses as offensive rebounds while NOTRE DAME was able to convert 40.6% of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.

UK hit well from the free throw line in this game, making 14-20 [70.0%]. NOTRE DAME made 10-13 [76.9%] for the game. Field goal shooting for UK was 25-47 overall [53.2%] and 4-8 from long range [50.0%]. For NOTRE DAME, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was 22-42 [52.4%] and from long range, NOTRE DAME hit 4-14 [28.6%].

The Cats committed 11turnovers, one for every 5.1 possessions. The Cats forced 7 NOTRE DAME turnovers, one for every 7.9 possessions.

Next Game On Schedule: Next Saturday evening in the NCAA Final 4 against Wisconsin.

Submitted by Richard Cheeks

Submitted by Richard Cheeks


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