BIG BLUE FANS FOR
2015-16 Season Analytical Writings
In 2014, the Cats defeated UCLA by 39 points, 83-44. Last week, the 2015-16 Cats lost to UCLA by 10. The current UCLA team returned all of the players that saw action a year ago except for two, and with Marcus Lee missing nearly the entire game, the Cats only had three players this year who saw time in the blow out win a year ago. One week ago, prior to the UCLA game, I asked rhetorically whether there is any pride left in the UCLA program, and Steve Alford's Bruins answered the call and showed sufficient pride to control the Cats from the opening tip. I believe the outcome was so one sided last week, that the rhetorical question should shift to whether this UK team has the level of pride that the UK program should command.
The answer I continue to hear from the Big Blue Nation is: “Bring on EKU! We will show these nattering nabobs of negativism, these naysayers what UK pride is about and the weapons this UK team has in its arsenal. This team will show the world that the UCLA loss was a mere distortion of this team's capability; a mere bump in the road to the final four.”
Well, one year ago, the 2014-15 Basketball Cats hosted last year's version of the EKU Colonels at Rupp Arena. As with this season, the EKU matchup occurred as the ninth game of the season. Last year, the Cats sent the Colonels home with a resounding 33-point defeat, 82-49. Not the 39 point lashing they dealt UCLA, but a sound whipping just the same. Why won't the 2015-16 Cats do much the same to the EKU Colonels on Wednesday evening at Rupp? Considering the 2015-16 Cats are coming off the program's first regular season loss since the 2013-14 season, that inexplicable, yet humiliating defeat at UCLA this group should be primed to seek and find retribution against EKU.
We will all find out the answer to this, and other questions on Wednesday. As a cautionary note, this is not last year's Cats, and these are not last year's Colonels. All but three of the Colonels who played last year will return for this rematch. In contrast, only three of UK's players in this game last year will be on the floor for the Cats on Wednesday night.
EKU has played nine games so far this season, six at home, and three on the road, posting an early season 7-2 record. The Colonels most impressive win so far this season has been by 8 points over #158 Ball State while the Colonels have lost at #140 UNC Wilmington and by 2 at #176 WKU. The Colonels will enter this game with a #208 Pomeroy rating having played the #342 nd toughest early schedule (0.2706). Kentucky has slipped to the #5 Pomeroy rated team, having played the 134 th toughest early schedule (0.5516).
Kentucky has played its first seven games at a pace of 71 possessions per game while EKU has pushed it at a 76 possession pace. Kentucky has posted an offensive efficiency, 1.119 ppp as compared to EKU's 1.180 ppp. The Cats have enjoyed lower defensive efficiency 0.922 ppp as compared to 1.085 ppp for EKU. Pomeroy sees this game as a 25-point Kentucky advantage, 94-69 at a pace of 74 possessions. My ANE analysis sees Kentucky with a 18 point advantage, 88-70 at a pace of 73 to 74 possessions.
Coach Calipari returns to his starting lineup of Tyler Ulis, Isaiah Briscoe, Jamal Murray, Skal Labissiere, and Alex Poythress
Skal Labissiere controls the tip, and the Cats immediately take the ball to the rim on a drive by Alex Poythress. Over the course of the opening segment, the Cats sprint out to a 12-2 lead, with all 12 points coming inside the paint. EKU scored the final 4 points of the segment, on a pair of free throws and a lay up following a Kentucky turnover. At the under 16 media timeout, the Cats lead by 6, 12-6 and have possession of the ball after the timeout. In the second segment, the Colonels close to a single point, 14-13, but the Cats finish the segment on a 6-2 run to move back on top 20-15 at the under 12 media timeout.
In the third segment, the Cats stretched their lead to 8 points, 29-21 at the under 8 media timeout, and Charles Matthews will have a free throw to complete a 3 point play after the break. In the 4 th segment, the Cats get a 12 point run, transforming a 6 point game, 36-30, into a 18 point game, 48-30, and the Cats finish the half with a 14 point lead, 50-36.
Kentucky scored 50 points on 40 possessions (1.25 ppp) while EKU scored 36 points on 40 possessions (0.90 ppp). The Cats shot well, making 20-33 shots (60.6%), and only 2-9 (22.2%) from long range. EKU shot the ball well, 14-31 overall (45.2%) which included 1-8 (12.5%) from long range. From the line, the Cats were 8-10 (80.0%) while EKU was 7-9 (77.8%). The Cats committed 10 turnovers, one for each 4..0 possessions, and the Cats forced EKU into 8 turnovers, one for each 5.0 possessions.
On the boards, the Cats won the battle 23-10, and the Cats won the battle on the offensive glass 7-3. The Cats converted their 7 second chance opportunities into 10 second chance points while EKU used their 3 second chances to score 2 second chance points.
EKU had an efficiency of 0.85 ppp on its 40 first chance possessions and 0.667 ppp on its 3 second chance possessions. Kentucky had an efficiency of 1.00 ppp on its 40 first chance possessions and 1.43 ppp on its 7 second chance possession. The Cats grabbed a strong 50.0% of its misses and EKU grabbed 15.8% of its missed shots in the first half.
EKU opens the second half with a 10-2 run on the strength of back to back 3 pointers to cut the one time 18 point lead to 6, 52-46. The Cats then finish the segment with a 6-2 run of their own to lead by 10, 58-48 at the under 16 media timeout. In the second segment, the Cats add a pair of points to their lead, stretching it to 12 points, 65-53 at the under 12 media timeout. After the timeout, Skal Labissiere will have a pair of free throws. Skal Labissiere makes both of his free throws to stretch the lead to 14 points, but over the third segment, the Colonels chip away until they get the margin back into single digits, 9 points, 69-60, at a timeout with 8:10 remaining in the game. In the 4 th segment, the Cats close the segment with a 7-0 run after EKU had trimmed the lead to only 8 points, to lead 80-65 at the under 4 media timeout. Cats finish the job with a 21 point win, 88-67.
UK scored its 88 points on 71 possessions for the game, and EKU scored its 67 points on 73 possessions.
The Cats won the battle of the boards, 50-25, and Kentucky won the battle of the offensive boards 18-11. Kentucky used its 18 second chance possessions to score 29 second chance points, and EKU used its 11 second chance possessions to score 9 second chance points. EKU had an offensive efficiency of 0.795 ppp on its 73 first chance possessions and 0.818 ppp for its 11 second chance possessions. UK had 0.831 ppp on its 71 first chance possessions and 1.611 ppp on its 18 second chance possessions. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed a strong 56.3%of its misses as offensive rebounds while EKU was able to convert 25.6% 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%]. EKU made 10-14 [71.4%] for the game. Field goal shooting for UK was 35-64 overall [54.7%] and 4-19 from long range [21.1%]. For EKU, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was a 21-47 [44.7%] and from long range, EKU hit 5-18 [27.8%].
The Cats committed 17 turnovers, one for every 4.2 possessions. The Cats forced 13 EKU turnovers, one for every 5.6 possessions.
Next Game On Schedule: Next Saturday afternoon against Arizona State at Rupp Arena in the tenth regular season game of the 2015-16 season .
Submitted by Richard Cheeks
Submitted by Richard Cheeks