BIG BLUE FANS FOR
2015-16 Season Analytical Writings
On December 20, 2014, the Cats and the Bruins traveled to Chicago's United Center for what the pundits forecast as a battle of the titans. Some believed the Bruins could be the team to derail the Wildcat express heading toward the unthinkable unbeaten season. The arena was full, and the TV and radio audiences were epic.
After 7 1/3 minutes of play, Kentucky led UCLA 24-0. That's right. That is not a misprint. This is not a typo. 24-0 with 12:40 remaining in the first half. UCLA scored its first points on a layup by Kevon Looney with 12:17 on the clock. By halftime, the Cats led by 34 points, 41-7. The Cats stretched their lead to an unreal 44 points with 9:15 remaining in the game, and continued to lead by 44 with only 2:21 remaining on the clock. UCLA did close to a final margin of 39 points as the Cats finished one of the most outrageous beatdowns of modern college basketball history, 83-44.
On Thursday night, the Cats will enter the legendary Pauley Pavillion on the UCLA campus to face the 2015-16 version of the Bruins, and perhaps the Bruins will have that beatdown on their minds, don't you think?
If there is any pride left in the UCLA program that owns eleven National Championships, there is no way that Coach Alford has done anything beyond marking December 4, 2015 on his Calendar as the day for a huge payback. The only question will be if the Bruins have enough in their bag of tricks to send the undefeated, and #1 ranked Kentucky team away with its first loss of the year.
UCLA has played seven games so far this season, four at home, and three at neutral venues, winning 4 and losing three times. The Bruins defeated #98 Cal Poly by 5, #132 Pepperdine by 14, #95 UNLV by 2 on a neutral court, and #288 Cal St. Northridge by 32 in their last game this past Sunday. The Bruins have lost to #3 Kansas by 19 on a neutral floor, #77 Wake Forest by 3 on a neutral court, and to #101 Monmouth by 3 in overtime. The Bruins will enter this game with a #49 Pomeroy rating having played the #123 rd toughest early schedule (0.5731). Kentucky has slipped to the #2 Pomeroy rated team, having played the 177 th toughest early schedule (0.5132).
Kentucky has played its first seven games at a pace of 71 possessions per game while UCLA has pushed it at a 75 possession pace. Kentucky has posted an offensive efficiency, 1.123 ppp as compared to UCLA's 1.006 ppp. The Cats have enjoyed lower defensive efficiency (0.876 ppp as compared to 0.979 ppp for UCLA. Pomeroy sees this game as a 7-point Kentucky advantage, 78-71 at a pace of 71 possessions. My ANE analysis sees Kentucky with a 6 point advantage, 77-71 at a pace of 73 possessions.
Tyler Ulis will be available for tonight's game after missing on Monday when the Cats entertained Illinois State. Coach Calipari returns to his starting lineup of Tyler Ulis, Isaiah Briscoe, Jamal Murray, Marcus Lee, and Skal Labissiere
Skal Labissiere controls the tip, and the Cats run the offense to the waning seconds on the shot clock before Isaiah Briscoe hits a jump shot from the left wing. However, UCLA runs off the next 9 points to jump on top of the Cats 9-2. A 3 pointer by Jamal Murray, and a put back basket by Marcus Lee pulls the Cats to within 2 points, 9-7 at the under 16 media timeout. The Cats have committed 2 early turnovers, providing UCLA 3 of their 9 points. Each team scored 2 second chance points in the opening segment.
In the second segment, UCLA scores 5 straight to go back on top by 7, 14-7, but the Cats answer with 5 straight of their own to pull within 2 points again, 14-12. A 3 pointer by Alford lifted the Bruins to a 5 point lead, 17-12, at the under 12 media timeout with 10:43 remaining in the first half. The first 9 minutes have had 16 possessions for each team. The Cats have committed 3 turnovers, and UCLA committed 4 turnovers in the second segment. In the third segment, the Cats manage to pull to within 1 point, 22-21, but UCLA scores and gets a defensive stop to move back on top by 3, 24-21 at the under 8 media timeout. The Bruins have the ball when play resumes.
In the fourth segment, the Cats fail to score on 4 possessions and UCLA adds 6 points to their lead to a game high 9 points, 30-21 forcing a UK timeout with 4:57 remaining in the game. Alex Poythress ends the Bruin run from the baseline off a Tyler Ulis assist to trim the 11 point UCLA lead to 9 points, 34-25, at the under 4 media timeout with 2:45 remaining in the first half. The Cats will have the ball when play resumes.
The Cats trail at the half by 8, 37-29.
Kentucky scored 29 points on 32 possessions (0.91 ppp) while UCLA scored 37 points on 32 possessions (1.16 ppp). The Cats shot poorly, making 12-32 shots (37.5%), and only 3-9 (33.3%) from long range. UCLA shot the ball well, 14-28 overall (50.0%) which included 3-7 (42.9%) from long range. From the line, the Cats were 2-2 (100.0%) while UCLA was 6-7 (85.7%). The Cats committed 6 turnovers, one for each 5.3 possessions, and the Cats forced UCLA into 6 turnovers, one for each 4.3 possessions.
On the boards, the Cats lost the battle 17-18, and the Cats won the battle on the offensive glass 7-5. The Cats converted their 7 second chance opportunities into 4 second chance points while UCLA used their 5 second chances to score 6 second chance points.
UCLA had an efficiency of 0.97 ppp on its 32 first chance possessions and 1.20 ppp on its 5 second chance possessions. Kentucky had an efficiency of 0.78 ppp on its 32 first chance possessions and 0.57 ppp on its 7 second chance possession. The Cats grabbed a low 35.0% of its misses and UCLA grabbed 33.3% of its missed shots in the first half.
UCLA opens the second half with a 3 point play and a basket to extend their 8 point lead to a game high 13 points. The Cats claw back to within 9 points and the ball, but cannot cut more from the lead, and UCLA answers with a 3 pointer to go back on top by 12. Isaiah Briscoe scores his second basket of the segment to trim the lead to 10 at the under 16 media timeout. In the segment, Alex Poythress committed 3 fouls and is on the bench with 4. At the start of the second segment, Skal Labissiere committed his 3 rd foul, and Marcus Lee is on the bench with a head injury sustained in the first half.
In the second segment, UCLA continues to build on their lead, extending it to 15 points, last at 56-41 just prior to a put back basket by Derek Willis, who was also fouled to take the game to the under 12 media timeout. Derek Willis will attempt to complete the 3 point play after the break, with the Cats down 13 points, 56-43. In the third segment, the Cats trim the lead to 10 points, and could not get the deficit into single digits on 3 possessions in the segment. At the under 8 media timeout, the score is 64-54 with 7:48 remaining, and UCLA in possession of the ball.
In the 4 th segment, the Cats trim the deficit to 10 but cannot pull into single digits, and trail by 11 at the under 4 media timeout, 73-62. After the timeout, Isaiah Briscoe will have a pair of free throws.
The Cats fall 87-77.
UK scored its 77 points on 69 possessions for the game, and UCLA scored its 87 points on 69 possessions.
UCLA won the battle of the boards, 38-37, but Kentucky won the battle of the offensive boards 16-10. Kentucky used its 16 second chance possessions to score 17 second chance points, and UCLA used its 10 second chance possessions to score 15 second chance points. UCLA had an offensive efficiency of 1.044 ppp on its 69 first chance possessions and 1.500 ppp for its 10 second chance possessions. UK had 0.870 ppp on its 69 first chance possessions and 1.062 ppp on its 16 second chance possessions. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed a poor 36.4%of its misses as offensive rebounds while UCLA was able to convert a similar 32.3% of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.
UK hit well from the free throw line in this game, making 19-25 [76.0%]. UCLA made 26-34 [76.5%] for the game. Field goal shooting for UK was 25-66 overall [37.9%] and- 8-25 from long range [32.0%]. For UCLA, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was a strong 23-42 [54.8%] and from long range, UCLA hit 5-11 [45.5%].
The Cats committed 8 turnovers, one for every 8.6 possessions. The Cats forced 10 UCLA turnovers, one for every 6.9 possessions.
Next Game On Schedule: Next Wednesday evening against Eastern Kentucky at Rupp Arena in the ninth regular season game of the 2015-16 season .
Submitted by Richard Cheeks
Submitted by Richard Cheeks