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2015-16 Season Analytical Writings
Last Saturday afternoon, the Kentucky Wildcats used a new starting five to defeat the Louisville Cardinals for the eighth time in nine meetings since Coach Calipari arrived in Lexington to lead the UK program. For the Big Blue Nation, the continued dominance of the Cards is nothing short of too sweet. With each passing win over Pitino's Cards, the sense only strengthens that Calipari's Cats now own Pitino's Cards.
The Cats-Cards annual regular season meeting has been the last non-conference game for the Cats, and signals the beginning of the annual SEC wars. On Saturday, January 2, 2016, The Cats' will open their SEC season at home against Mississippi for the second year in a row. Last year, the Cats entered that first SEC encounter against Mississippi undefeated, with a 25% probability of running the SEC table. This year, the Cats come into SEC play after sustaining two losses (UCLA and Ohio State) in twelve start, and Pomeroy projects a 0.1% probability of an undefeated SEC season for these Cats.
Despite the undefeated status, and the high probability of an undefeated SEC season, Mississippi came into Rupp Arena with a 9-4 record and a 21 to 29 point underdog to the Cats only to lead at the half by 2 points, and extended the #1 Cats into an overtime period. In the OT, Mississippi's leading scorer was fouled on a 3 point shot attempt with Mississippi holding on to a 1 point lead; however, Moody cramped up and had to leave the game. The player that Coach Calipari selected to shoot on Moody's behalf only made 1 of 3 free throws, and the Cats managed to survive with a 3 point OT win, 89-86.
This year's Ole Miss team has traversed its non-conference season with only 2 losses this season, and Moody is leading the charge, averaging over 23 points per game, the highest scoring average in the SEC. Instead of being a 21 to 29 point underdog, this season, Mississippi enters this game as an 11 point underdog according to Pomeroy, and 11 ½ points in Las Vegas.
The Rebels will enter Rupp Arena also with a 10-2 record, sustaining neutral court losses to #186 George Mason by 6 and #39 Seton Hall by 12. Mississippi's schedule has been weak, 0.4304, #272, and Mississippi's most impressive win thus far was at #70 Memphis by 6 points.
The Cats finished the first 12 games of their non-conference schedule with a 10-2 record, sustaining losses at #45 UCLA and against #47 Ohio State in Brooklyn. The Cats have won by an average margin of about 12 points. The Cats' schedule has been representative for a national title contender, 0.5691, #101.
The teams have not played a common opponent leading into this game.
MISSISSIPPI has played its first 12 games at an average tempo of about 71 to 72 possessions per game, scoring 77.0 ppg (1.079 ppp) and allowing an average 69.3 ppg (0.968 ppp). MISSISSIPPI has turned the ball over on 16.7% of its possessions while forcing turnovers on 19.3% of opponent possessions. On the Boards, MISSISSIPPI has secured an offensive rebounding rate of 36.2% about 4% above the 32% NCAA average, and a defensive rebounding rate of 70.8%.
In contrast, the Cats have averaged about 71 possessions per game, producing 78.1 ppg (1.102 ppp) and allowing 66.3 ppg (0.934 ppp). The Cats have committed turnovers on 18.4% of its possessions and forced turnovers on 20.0% of opponent possessions. On the Boards, the Cats' rebounding rates have been 40.5% and 68.1% on the offensive and defensive ends.
Based on this distribution, the analysis tips in favor of Kentucky by 7 points, 76-69 in a game played at a pace of 71 possessions for the Cats and 71 possessions for MISSISSIPPI. Pomeroy figures the Game in Kentucky's favor by 11 points, 79-68 at a pace of 70 possessions. Vegas opens with the Cats a 11 ½ point favorite.
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Coach Calipari returns Isaiah Briscoe to the starting lineup tonight to join Marcus Lee, Alex Poythress, Tyler Ulis, and Jamal Murray
Marcus Lee controls the opening tip, but Alex Poythress fails to finish at the rim. Following a Rebel turnover on its first possession, Tyler Ulis draws first blood from the baseline. Ole Miss scored the next 4 points around an 0-2 trip to the line by Marcus Lee, and a UK turnover to ease on top 4-2. However, it is Tyler Ulis time, and he scored the next 6 points, and was fouled on his last basket to push the Cats on top 8-4, and Andy Kennedy called a timeout with 15:42 remaining. Tyler Ulis converted his free throw to extend the lead to 5 points, 9-4, a margin that the Cats would maintain, 12-7, at the under 12 media timeout.
In the third segment, the teams seemed stalled, with the Cats clinging to a 3 point lead, 14-11. However, over the course of 3 possessions, the Cats struck for an 8-0 run. A 3 point play by Alex Poythress, a 3 point play by Tyler Ulis, and a turnover leading to an offensive rebound slam by Marcus Lee. Coach Kennedy called his second time out with 7:49 remaining, and the Cats on top 22-11. In the 4 th segment, the Cats continue to expand their lead, outscoring the Rebels 13-3 in the segment to lead 35-14 at the under 4 media timeout. The Cats go to the locker room with a 24 point halftime lead, 46-22.
From a tight game, at 14-11, the Cats outscored the Rebels 32-11 over the final 9 minutes of the first half.
Kentucky scored 46 points on 36 possessions (1.28 ppp) while MISSISSIPPI scored 22 points on 36 possessions (0.61 ppp). The Cats shot well, making 17-33 shots (51.5%), but 3-11 (27.3%) from long range. MISSISSIPPI shot the ball poorly, 5-26 overall (23.1%) which included 3-10 (30.0%) from long range. From the line, the Cats were 9-17 (52.9%) while MISSISSIPPI was 7-11 (63.6%). The Cats committed 8 turnovers, one for each 4.5 possessions, and the Cats forced MISSISSIPPI into 10 turnovers, one for each 3.6 possessions.
On the boards, the Cats won the battle 26-13 and the Cats won the battle on the offensive glass 12-6. The Cats converted their 12 second chance opportunities into 12 second chance points while MISSISSIPPI used their 6 second chances to score 3 second chance points.
MISSISSIPPI had an efficiency of 0.53 ppp on its 36 first chance possessions and 0.500 ppp on its 6 second chance possessions. Kentucky had an efficiency of 0.94 ppp on its 36 first chance possessions and 1.00 ppp on its 12 second chance possession. The Cats grabbed a 63.2% of its misses and MISSISSIPPI grabbed 30.0% of its missed shots in the first half.
Mississippi opens the second half with two missed shots and a turnover as the Cats convert two of those three possessions into points, and Coach Kennedy takes his third timeout less than 2 minutes into the second half with the score 50-22. After the timeout, Mississippi finally begins to match the Cats' baskets and get to the under 16 media timeout trailing by 27, 56-29. In the second segment, Dominique Hawkins injured his ankle or knee, and Marcus Lee and Alex Poythress carried him to the bench. During the segment, Mississippi made 5-6 shots, and 3-4 free throws to trim 4 points from the lead and trail by 23, 65-42 at the under 12 media timeout, with 10:36 remaining in the game.
In the 4 th segment, the Cats and the Rebels traded scores as the Cats maintained their lead at 24, 78-54 at the under 4 media timeout. Cats win 83-61.
UK scored its 83 points on 66 possessions for the game, and MISSISSIPPI scored its 61 points on 68 possessions.
The Cats won the battle of the boards 41-27, and the Cats controlled the offensive rebounds 20-10. Kentucky used its 20 second chance possessions to score 16 second chance points, and MISSISSIPPI used its 10 second chance possessions to score 9 second chance points. MISSISSIPPI had an offensive efficiency of 0.897 ppp on its 68 first chance possessions and 0.900 ppp for its 10 second chance possessions. UK had 1.015 ppp on its 66 first chance possessions and 0.800 ppp on its 20 second chance possessions. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed a strong 54.1%of its misses as offensive rebounds while MISSISSIPPI was able to convert 32.3% of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.
UK hit poorly from the free throw line in this game, making 10-20 [50.0%]. MISSISSIPPI made 18-26 [69.2%] for the game. Field goal shooting for UK was 33-66 overall [50.0%] and 7-25 from long range [28.0%]. For MISSISSIPPI, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was a 17-36 [47.2%] and from long range, MISSISSIPPI hit 3-14 [21.4%].
The Cats committed 12 turnovers, one for every 5.5 possessions. The Cats forced 16 MISSISSIPPI turnovers, one for every 4.2 possessions.
Next Game On Schedule: Next Tuesday evening at LSU in the fourteenth regular season and second SEC game of the 2015-16 season .
Submitted by Richard Cheeks
Submitted by Richard Cheeks