2015-16 Season Analytical Writings

Cats Return to Rupp For Illinois State

On Friday evening, in Miami, the Cats played the first half with great energy and swept USF away with a 21 point margin, 42-21, at the half. However, with about 6 minutes remaining in the half, Tyler Ulis had to leave the game due to a hyper-extended right elbow. The second half, the Cats seemed content that they had a win, and lost their energy and intensity, playing USF on even terms, 42-42. The first half is how a champion should play, and the second half is anything but how a champion should play.

Are the 2015-16 Kentucky Wildcats more akin to the energy and intensity of the first half, or does the second half reveal a fatal flaw in the character of this year's team? Only time will tell. Yes, it is true that prior to this game, the big blue fans 4 uk season forecast was revised downward due to the lackadaisical effort of the team in the previous two games against Wright State and Boston University. The first half of the USF game intended to put that revision into the trash heap of basketball history, but the second half redeemed the downward shift in the season forecast. The team does have the ingredients to return to championship form, but it is up to the coaches and players to get that done. My reporting on the forecast will reflect what has occurred on the court, not the potential that the team may possess.

On Monday evening, the Cats will get another opportunity to show the critics that the warnings of mediocrity are not justified. Thereafter, the schedule will become more difficult, and it may not simply be a matter of critics forecasting what may occur, but reports of the actual events. On Monday, November 30 the Wildcats will face the Illinois State Redbirds.

ILLINOIS STATE has played seven games so far this season, four at home, one on the road and two at neutral venues. The Redbirds defeated #149 Morehead State by 1, #326 Houston Baptist by 16, and non D1 Quincy by 10, all at home. The Redbirds have lost at #44 San Diego State by 11, to #59 South Dakota State at home by 16, and at neutral venues to #21 Maryland by 11 and #108 TCU by 11. The Redbirds will enter this game with a #144 Pomeroy rating having played the #116 th toughest early schedule (0.5807). Kentucky remains the #1 Pomeroy rated team, having played the 172 nd toughest early schedule (0.5168).

Kentucky has played its first five games at a pace of 70 possessions per game while ILLINOIS STATE University has pushed it at a 72 possession pace. Kentucky has posted an offensive efficiency, 1.150 ppp as compared to ILLINOIS STATE University's 0.910 ppp. The Cats have enjoyed lower defensive efficiency (0.884 ppp as compared to 0.979 ppp for ILLINOIS STATE University. Pomeroy sees this game as a 19-point Kentucky advantage, 80-61 at a pace of 72 possessions. My ANE analysis sees Kentucky with a 23 point advantage, 81-58 at a pace of 71 possessions.

Game Summary:

Tyler Ulis will not be available for tonight's game, and Coach Calipari is juggling his starting lineup by inserting Alex Poythress for Marcus Lee, and starting Charles Matthews for Tyler Ulis, Isaiah Briscoe, Jamal Murray, and Skal Labissiere remain in the starting lineup. The reserve players include Derek Willis, Marcus Lee, Isaac Humphries, and Dominique Hawkins.

Skal Labissiere controls the tip, but Isaiah Briscoe commits a turnover, and ISU scores first. Following Isaiah Briscoe's second consecutive turnover, ISU goes on top 4-0, prompting a very quick UK timeout. After the timeout, Isaiah Briscoe commits his third turnover, and ISU finally misses a shot. After Alex Poythress makes 1 of 2 free throws, ISU drains a 3 pointer after an offensive rebound to move on top 7-1, and Jamal Murray finally scores a basket for the Cats to pull to within 4 points, 7-3 at the under 16 media timeout. In the second segment, the Cats finish with a 8-2 run to tie the score, 15-15 at the under 12 media timeout.

In the third segment, the Cats finally move into the lead, and extend their lead to 4 points, 21-17 at the under 8 media timeout. In an extended 4 th segment, ISU regains the lead, going up by 3 at 27-24 before the Cats force a turnover. Dominique Hawkins makes a layup while being fouled to pull the Cats to within 1 point, and Dominique Hawkins will have a free throw to complete the 3 point play after the under 4 media timeout with 2:05 remaining in the first half.

The teams go to the locker room even at 31-31.

Kentucky scored 31 points on 38 possessions (0.82 ppp) while ILLINOIS STATE University scored 31 points on 38 possessions (0.82 ppp). The Cats shot well, making 10-21 shots (47.6%), but only 1-4 (25.0%) from long range. ILLINOIS STATE shot the ball well, 14-31 overall (45.2%) which included 2-7 (28.6%) from long range. From the line, the Cats were 10-20 (50.0%) while ILLINOIS STATE University was 1-2 (50.0%). The Cats committed 9 turnovers, one for each 4.2 possessions, and the Cats forced ILLINOIS STATE University into 12 turnovers, one for each 3.2 possessions.

On the boards, the Cats lost the battle 20-12, and the Cats lost the battle on the offensive glass 6-1. The Cats converted their 1 second chance opportunities into 0 second chance points while ILLINOIS STATE used their 6 second chances to score 11 second chance points.

ILLINOIS STATE University had an efficiency of 0.53 ppp on its 38 first chance possessions and 1.83 ppp on its 6 second chance possessions. Kentucky had an efficiency of 0.82 ppp on its 38 first chance possessions and 0.00 ppp on its 1 second chance possession. The Cats grabbed a pitiful 6.7% of its misses and ILLINOIS STATE grabbed 35.3% of its missed shots in the first half.

Second Half:

The Cats open the second half forcing a turnover and score the first 4 points of the second half, and extend their lead to a game high 6 points, 42-36, and get to the under 16 media timeout with a 5 point lead and the ball, 43-38. Out of the timeout, Isaiah Briscoe cuts to the basket, receives the inbounds pass, scores and is fouled. He made the free throw to give the Cats an 8 point lead. Over the balance of the second segment, the Cats expand their lead to 16 points, 56-40 at the under 12 media timeout. In the third segment, ISU cut the lead back to 10 points before Marcus Lee stopped their mini-run with a put back basket. The Cats lead 59-47 at the under 8 media timeout, and Isaiah Briscoe will have a pair of free throws after the timeout.

At the under 4 media timeout, the Cats lead by 9, 65-56 and have the ball. Cats win 75-63.


UK scored its 75 points on 75 possessions for the game, and ILLINOIS STATE University scored its 63 points on 76 possessions.

Kentucky won the battle of the boards, 39-37, but ISU won the battle of the offensive boards 14-12. Kentucky used its 12 second chance possessions to score 12 second chance points, and ILLINOIS STATE used its 14 second chance possessions to score 17 second chance points. ILLINOIS STATE had an offensive efficiency of 0.597 ppp on its 76 first chance possessions and 1.214 ppp for its 14 second chance possessions. UK had 0.840 ppp on its 75 first chance possessions and 1.000 ppp on its 12 second chance possessions. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed a poor 34.3%of its misses as offensive rebounds while ILLINOIS STATE was able to convert a similar 34.1% of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.

UK hit poorly from the free throw line in this game, making 29-46 [63.0%]. ILLINOIS STATE made 8-10 [80.0%] for the game. Field goal shooting for UK was 22-51 overall [43.10%] and- 2-12 from long range [16.7%]. For ILLINOIS STATE, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was a weak 20-50 [40.0%] and from long range, ILLINOIS STATE UNIVERSITY hit 5-20 [25.0%].

The Cats committed 15 turnovers, one for every 5.0 possessions. The Cats forced 16 ILLINOIS STATE turnovers, one for every 4.8 possessions.

Next Game On Schedule: Thursday evening at UCLA's Pauley Pavilion, the Cats will face UCLA in the eighth regular season game of the 2015-16 season.

Submitted by Richard Cheeks


Submitted by Richard Cheeks


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