BIG BLUE FANS FOR
2014-15 Season Analytical Writings
On Tuesday night in Chicago, the 2015-16 Kentucky Wildcats sent a wakeup call to the rest of the college basketball universe with a double-digit win over defending national champion Duke. The win came easier than even the final margin might suggest. For example, the Cats outscored Duke in the paint 48-30 despite the fact that the two Kentucky freshmen big men, Skal Labissiere and Isaac Humphries only scored 9 points between them, and Skal Labissiere and Marcus Lee each fouled out. The Kentucky inside game was not much of a factor. As these two freshmen learn how to play in the post through the course of this season, the Kentucky play at the other four spots will simply find the going easier and become even more effective than they were against their Duke counterparts.
The Duke matchup was one of two that the preseason forecasts projected as UK losses. But, this team of Wildcats got past the first such encounter in fine fashion. And, Kansas, the other future opponent that had been cast as a preseason favorite lost to Michigan State in the second game in Chicago Tuesday, and as the real numbers for the 2015-16 versions of these teams emerge, the Cats are now a slight favorite to beat Kansas in the Allen Field House in late January. Yes, folks, you heard it here first, Kentucky is now forecast to be the favorite in all 28 remaining regular season games, for the second consecutive season. And, this team has not touched or found its ceiling, only have revealed that it is at a higher level than they reached on Tuesday against a highly regarded Duke team.
So, the Cats return to Rupp Arena for a pair of games, and the focus of these next two games, first Wright State on Friday night, and Boston University next Tuesday will be fine tuning their game, and developing Skal Labissiere and Isaac Humphries into stronger post players.
Wright State has played three games so far this season, the first two at neutral locations and the third on the road. Wright State opened their season with an 8 point win over #273 South Dakota, and then dropped games to #281 Cal. State Northridge by 5 and at #176 Northern Illinois by 6. The Raiders will enter Rupp with a #155 Pomeroy rating having played the #213 th toughest early schedule (0.4032). Kentucky is now the #1 Pomeroy rated team, having played the 117 th toughest early schedule (0.6341).
Kentucky has played its first three games at a pace of 70 possessions per game while Wright State has pushed it at a 68 possession pace. Kentucky has posted an offensive efficiency, 1.133 ppp as compared to Wright State's 0.993 ppp. The Cats have enjoyed lower defensive efficiency (0.881 ppp as compared to 1.015 ppp for Wright State. Pomeroy sees this game as a 20-point Kentucky advantage, 78*58 at a pace of 67 possessions. My ANE analysis sees Kentucky with a 28 point advantage, 83-55 at a pace of 69 possessions.
Coach Calipari starts Tyler Ulis, Isaiah Briscoe, Jamal Murray, Marcus Lee, and Skal Labissiere. The addition of Isaiah Briscoe to the starting lineup sends Derek Willis back into a reserve role along with Alex Poythress, Charles Matthews, and Dominique Hawkins. Isaac Humphries will not be available tonight due to an injury.
Skal Labissiere controlled the tip, but the Cats commit a quick turnover. Nevertheless, the Cats score the first 5 points of the game, and move out to an early 9-4 lead at the under 16 media timeout. After the timeout, the Cats stop Wright State and Alex Poythress scores from inside the lane, prompting a Wright State timeout. After their timeout, the Raiders trim the lead to 3 points, 13-10 before the Cats finish the segment with a 4-point mini-run by Tyler Ulis, and Tyler Ulis will have a pair of free throws after the under 12 media timeout, with the Cats holding a 7 point lead, 17-10.
In the third segment of the first half, the team played on even terms, each team getting 8 points and the Cats continue to lead by 7, 25-18, at the under 8 media timeout. In the fourth segment, the Cats extend the lead to 9 points, 31-22 at the under 4 media timeout. The Cats lead at the half 39-26.
Kentucky scored 39 points on 35 possessions (1.11 ppp) while Wright State scored 26 points on 34 possessions (0.76 ppp). The Cats shot well, making 17-29 shots (58.6%), including 1-5 (20.0%) from long range. Wright State shot the ball poorly, 10-32 overall (31.3%) which included 3-6 (50%) from long range. From the line, the Cats were only 4-6 (66.7%) while Wright State was 3-4 (75.0%). The Cats committed 7 turnovers, one for each 5.0 possessions, and the Cats forced Wright State into only 6 turnovers, one for each 5.7 possessions.
On the boards, the Cats won the battle 21-15, but Wright State won the battle on the offensive glass 6-5. However, the Cats converted their 5 second chance opportunities into 4 second chance points while Wright State used their 6 second chances to score 4 second chance points.
Wright State had an efficiency of 0.65 ppp on its 34 first chance possessions and 0.67 ppp on its 6 second chance possessions. Kentucky had an efficiency of 1.000 ppp on its 35 first chance possessions but only 0.8 ppp on its 5 second chance possessions. The Cats grabbed a season low 35.7% of its misses and limited Wright State to only 27.3% offensive rebounding rate in the first half.
The Cats open the second half just like they did in the first half with a turnover, and after Wright State scored first following an offensive rebound, Coach Calipari pulled Marcus Lee and inserted Charles Matthews into the lineup. Charles Matthews wasted no time getting the ball to go through the basket. The Cats continue to lead by 13 at the under 16 media timeout. At the under 12 media timeout, the Raiders continue to hang around, down 13 at 53-40. For the first time in the second half, the Cats extend their lead to 16 points, 65-49, at the under 8 media timeout, and Marcus Lee will have a pair of free throws after the timeout. After stretching the lead to 20 points, 71-51, Wright State claws back to 14 points, 72-58 at the under 4 media timeout, and the Raiders will have a pair of free throws after the timeout. The final score, 78-63.
UK scored its 78 points in a total of 71 possessions for the game, and Wright State scored its 63 points on a total of 70 possessions.
Kentucky won the battle of the boards, 37-27, but Wright State won the battle of the offensive boards 8-7. Kentucky used its 7 second chance possessions to score 6 second chance points, and WRIGHT STATE used its 8 second chance possessions to score 8 second chance points. WRIGHT STATE had an offensive efficiency of 0.786 ppp on its 70 first chance possessions and 1.000 ppp for its 8 second chance possessions. UK had 1.014 ppp on its 71 first chance possessions and 0.857 ppp on its 7 second chance possessions. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed a poor and season low 26.9%of its misses as offensive rebounds while WRIGHT STATE was able to convert a weaker 21.1% of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.
UK hit well from the free throw line in this game, making 26-37 [70.3%]. WRIGHT STATE made 15-17 [88.2%] for the game. Field goal shooting for UK was 25-47 overall [53.2%] and- 2-10 from long range [20.0%]. For WRIGHT STATE, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was a weak 15-44 [34.1%] and from long range, WRIGHT STATE hit 6-14 [42.9%].
The Cats committed 12 turnovers, one for every 5.9 possessions. The Cats forced 12 WRIGHT STATE turnovers, one for every 5.8 possessions.
Next Game On Schedule: Tuesday night in Rupp, the Cats will face Boston University in the fifth regular season game of the 2015-16 season.
Submitted by Richard Cheeks
Submitted by Richard Cheeks