2015-16 Season Analytical Writings

Cats Head Out On SEC Road For Four Of Next Five
First Up Is LSU

The Cats successfully opened their defense of their SEC Championship on Saturday night in Rupp Arena by turning back Mississippi by 22 points. Home wins are presumed. Road wins define SEC Champions. The Cats will take a huge step toward defining their 2016 SEC Championship metal over the next 2 ½ weeks as the schedule makers lined up 4 SEC road games in the next five starts. Tuesday's game at LSU will be followed by a trip to Tuscaloosa, Following a home game against Mississippi State, the Cats will travel to Auburn and Arkansas to round out the first 1/3 of the SEC season.

When the TV networks reviewed the conference schedules prior to the season to set the TV games, they saw this Kentucky trip to LSU as a marquee matchup of heavyweights. Many experts believed the Cats would field another championship contender. Those same experts said LSU would be a resurgent contender for the SEC Championship due to its stellar freshman class anchored by Ben Simmons. However, Kentucky's non-conference record was slightly disappointing with two losses in 12 games, and the LSU non-conference record was more than disappointing, it was nearly a no show, at 7-5. Both of these factors have taken some of the gloss off the pre-game publicity.

However, despite that 7-5 nonconference record, LSU opened their SEC journey on Saturday night with a precious road win over a strong #26 Vanderbilt team, by 8 points.

This is clearly LSU's strongest win of the season, and may signal to the rest of the SEC that the Tigers have finally found their identity as a good basketball team. However, their five losses decry that conclusion may be premature. The losses were to #113 Marquette by 1, at #120 College of Charleston by 12, at #79 Houston by 7 in OT, to #77 NC State by 11 in OT, and at home to #89 Wake Forest by 6. Prior to the Vanderbilt win, the Tigers' most impressive nonconference win had been by 11 over #132 North Florida.

The Tigers will enter the Kentucky game with an 8-5 record, including that 1-0 SEC start.

The teams have not played a common opponent leading into this game.

LSU has played its first 13 games at an average tempo of about 77 possessions per game, scoring 83.8 ppg (1.089 ppp) and allowing an average 76.2 ppg (0.995 ppp). LSU has turned the ball over on 15.7% of its possessions while forcing turnovers on 20.3% of opponent possessions. On the Boards, LSU has secured an offensive rebounding rate of 30.0%, and a defensive rebounding rate of 68.8%.

In contrast, the Cats have averaged about 71 possessions per game, producing 78.5 ppg (1.111 ppp) and allowing 65.8 ppg (0.930 ppp). The Cats have committed turnovers on 18.3% of its possessions and forced turnovers on 20.2% of opponent possessions. On the Boards, the Cats' rebounding rates have been 41.6% and 68.0% on the offensive and defensive ends.

Based on this distribution, the analysis tips in favor of Kentucky by 8 points, 80-72 in a game played at a pace of 74 possessions for the Cats and 74 possessions for LSU. Pomeroy figures the Game in Kentucky's favor by 5 points, 81-76 at a pace of 75 possessions. Vegas opens with the Cats a 5 ½ point favorite, but the Vegas line falls to 3 points by game time.

See how other Big Blue Fans see this game's likely outcome by clicking the following link.

You can enter your prediction at any time prior to tip off by visiting the 247 Sports prediction thread for this game at:

Game Summary:

Coach Calipari returns Isaiah Briscoe to the starting lineup tonight to join Marcus Lee, Alex Poythress, Tyler Ulis, and Jamal Murray. Dominique Hawkins will not be available for the game tonight.

Marcus Lee controlled the opening tip, and the Cats score first on a pair of free throws by Tyler Ulis, but LSU scores the next 6 points to move on top by 4, and at the under 16 media timeout, LSU continues to hold the 4 point lead, 8-4 and have possession of the ball after the timeout. In the second segment, LSU continues to control the game, moving on top by 7 points, 13-6, and the Cats trim it to 5 points, 13-8, at the under 12 media timeout. LSU will have a pair of free throws after the break. During the segment Marcus Lee and Skal Labissiere each committed their second fouls, and have been relegated to the bench for the balance of the first half.

In the third segment, the Cats continue to play very poorly, shooting 21.4% for the game, and 0-6 from long range, and 4-8 from the line. The Cats are being out rebounded 11-13, and have committed 7 turnovers to 5 for LSU. That is why the Cats trail by 8, 18-10, at the under 8 media timeout. After falling behind by 9 points, 25-16, the Cats go on a small run of 6-2 to cut the lead to 5 points, 27-22, at the under 4 media timeout. Alex Poythress will have one free throw to complete a 3 point play after the timeout.

Poythress missed the free throw, and back to back 3 pointers by LSU lifted the Tigers to their largest lead of the game, 11 points, 33-22, forcing Coach Calipari to take a timeout. LSU extended their lead to a game high 13 points, 37-24 before Tyler Ulis hit a 3 pointer just ahead of the buzzer to send the teams to the locker room with the Cats down 10 points, 37-27.

Kentucky scored 27 points on 37 possessions (0.73 ppp) while LSU scored 37 points on 36 possessions (1.03 ppp). The Cats shot poorly, making 9-28 shots (32.1%), including 3-11 (27.3%) from long range. LSU shot the ball well, 14-30 overall (46.7%) which included 4-9 (44.4%) from long range. From the line, the Cats were 6-14 (42.9%) while LSU was 5-10 (50.0%). The Cats committed 9 turnovers, one for each 4.1 possessions, and the Cats forced LSU into 5 turnovers, one for each 7.2 possessions.

On the boards, the LSU won the battle 22-19 and the Cats won the battle on the offensive glass 6-4. The Cats converted their 6 second chance opportunities into 7 second chance points while LSU used their 4 second chances to score 3 second chance points.

LSU had an efficiency of 0.94 ppp on its 36 first chance possessions and 0.7500 ppp on its 4 second chance possessions. Kentucky had an efficiency of 0.54 ppp on its 37 first chance possessions and 1.17 ppp on its 6 second chance possession. The Cats grabbed a 25.0% of its misses and LSU grabbed 23.5% of its missed shots in the first half.

Second Half:

Cats open the second half with a turnover, and LSU extends their lead to a game high 14 points, 47-33, and lead by 12, 47-35 at the under 16 media timeout. Marcus Lee picked up his 3 rd foul and Alex Poythress committed his 2 nd and 3 rd fouls in the opening segment. On the first play after the timeout, Marcus Lee commits his 4 th personal foul.

In the second segment, Jamal Murray began to heat up hitting a 3 pointer, making a 3 point play, and Derek Willis making a 3 pointer to trim the 14 point LSU lead to 5 points at the under 12 media timeout. Marcus Lee fouled out with over 13 minutes remaining in the game. The Cats had possession with a chance to cut the lead to 3 points, but failed. LSU hit a 3 pointer at the other end to go back on top by 8. Over the course of the segment, LSU reestablishes a 10-point lead, and will be shooting free throws after the under 8 media timeout. Alex Poythress fouled out on the rebound leading to the timeout.

At the under 4 media timeout, with 2:59 remaining, LSU maintains the 10 point lead that they held at the half. Cats lose for the third time this season, and drop to 1-1 in the SEC by 18 points, 85-67.


UK scored its 67 points on 70 possessions for the game, and LSU scored its 85 points on 68 possessions.

The Tigers won the battle of the boards 46-32, and the Tigers controlled the offensive rebounds 16-11. Kentucky used its 11 second chance possessions to score 14 second chance points, and LSU used its 16 second chance possessions to score 16 second chance points. LSU had an offensive efficiency of 1.015 ppp on its 68 first chance possessions and 1.000 ppp for its 16 second chance possessions. UK had 0.757 ppp on its 70 first chance possessions and 1.273 ppp on its 11 second chance possessions. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed a weak 26.8%of its misses as offensive rebounds while LSU was able to convert 43.2% of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.

UK hit poorly from the free throw line in this game, making 12-23 [52.2%]. LSU made 19-30 [63.3%] for the game. Field goal shooting for UK was 24-58 overall [41.4%] and 7-20 from long range [35.0%]. For LSU, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was a 24-47 [51.1%] and from long range, LSU hit 6-14 [42.9%].

The Cats committed 14 turnovers, one for every 5.0 possessions. The Cats forced 9 LSU turnovers, one for every 7.6 possessions.

Next Game On Schedule: Saturday evening at Alabama in the fifteenth regular season and third SEC game of the 2015-16 season .

Submitted by Richard Cheeks


Submitted by Richard Cheeks


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