BIG BLUE FANS FOR
2015-16 Season Analytical Writings
The Cats completed their first 2 game road swing through the SEC with a split, 1-1, and return to Rupp Arena on Tuesday night to face Mississippi State. The Cats started fast and finished strong in defeating the Crimson Tide by 16 points, 77-61 on Saturday evening in Tuscaloosa. The Cats have reached the midpoint of their 2015-16 regular season schedule with a 12-3, 2-1 record. The 2-1 SEC start is good enough to be in a 5 way tie for third place. Texas A&M and South Carolina have each started SEC play without a loss after their first 3 and 2 games, respectively.
In the Alabama game, Alex Poythress played perhaps his best offensive game as a Cat, and Jamal Murray played one of his better games by rebounding, creating steals, and reducing the number of turnovers while scoring 21 points. Tyler Ulis was simply Tyler Ulis with 8 points and 8 assists. Isaiah Briscoe scored 12 points on 6-10 shooting and 4 assists, perhaps his strongest game as a Cat. Marcus Lee scored 8 points on 4-5 shooting and 11 rebounds. This is one of the most complete games from the five starters that this team has enjoyed all season.
Here's hoping this is the beginning of the lights coming on for these players, and this team.
On the downside, the Cats did not get much help from its bench which contributed 3 points and 7 rebounds in the composite for 36 combined minutes from the five players who Coach Calipari inserted into the game. This team will need to get more from its bench as the season moves into the final half.
The Cats return to Rupp Arena for a single home game against Mississippi State before returning to the SEC road for games at Auburn and Arkansas. Based on their performance to date, Mississippi State is about the same strength as Alabama, both of which are part of the conference's bottom four this season.
Mississippi State brings a 7-7 record, 0-2 in the SEC, into this meeting with the 12-3; 2-1 Wildcats. Mississippi State has lost to #8 Miami FL by 26 points and #42 Texas Tech by 2, both on a neutral court. In addition MSU has lost home games to #252 Southern by 4, and to #21 Texas A&M by 1. Mississippi State's most impressive win came at the expense of #204 Eastern Michigan by 18 points in their first game of the season.
Mississippi State and Kentucky have not played a common opponent as they prepare to meet at Rupp Arena.
MISSISSIPPI STATE has played its first 14 games at an average tempo of about 70 possessions per game, scoring 76.4 ppg (1.083 ppp) and allowing an average 72.7 ppg (1.039 ppp). MISSISSIPPI STATE has turned the ball over on 17.5% of its possessions while forcing turnovers on 18.1% of opponent possessions. On the Boards, MISSISSIPPI STATE has secured an offensive rebounding rate of 31.6%, and a defensive rebounding rate of 65.7%.
In contrast, the Cats have averaged about 70 possessions per game, producing 77.6 ppg (1.105 ppp) and allowing 66.8 ppg (0.951 ppp). The Cats have committed turnovers on 18.3% of its possessions and forced turnovers on 19.2% of opponent possessions. On the Boards, the Cats' rebounding rates have been 40.6% and 68.0% on the offensive and defensive ends.
Based on this distribution, the analysis tips in favor of Kentucky by 15 points, 81-66 in a game played at a pace of 70 possessions for the Cats and 70 possessions for Mississippi State. Pomeroy figures the Game in Kentucky's favor by 14 points, 81-67 at a pace of 69 possessions. Vegas opens with the Cats a 14 point favorite.
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Coach Calipari starts Isaiah Briscoe, 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, but following a miss, MSU makes a 3 point play and another basket to sprint into a 5-0 lead. However, the Cats began to scratch back, first 5-2, then 5-5, and following a MSU basket, the Cats scored the next 5 to lead 10-7 at the under 16 media timeout. In the second segment, MSU tied the score again on a 3 pointer, but the Cats scored 9 in a row to lead 19-10 at the under 12 media timeout.
Out of the timeout, the Cats extended their run and lead to 13 points, 23-10 before MSU stopped the run with a basket. Then it was MSU's turn for a run, scoring 9 straight to trim the 13 point lead to only 4 points, 23-19, forcing Coach Calipari to take a timeout with 7:30 remaining in the first half. Over the next 4 minutes, the Cats and Bulldogs exchanged scores and the Cats maintained the 4 point lead, 29-25, at the under 4 media timeout.
In the final segment, Derek Willis blocked a shot, and drained back to back 3 pointers to take an 8 point lead to the locker room, 39-31.
Kentucky scored 39 points on 34 possessions (1.15 ppp) while MISSISSIPPI STATE scored 31 points on 34 possessions (0.91 ppp). The Cats shot well for most of the half, and a strong finish lifted them to 16-34 (47.1%) including 6-17 (35.3%) from long range. MISSISSIPPI STATE shot the ball very well, 13-22 overall (59.1%) which included 4-8 (50.0%) from long range. From the line, the Cats were 1-2 (50.0%) while MISSISSIPPI STATE was 1-1 (100.0%). The Cats committed 6 turnovers, one for each 5.7 possessions, and the Cats forced MISSISSIPPI STATE into 12 turnovers, one for each 2.8 possessions.
On the boards, the Cats won the battle 16-11 and the Cats won the battle on the offensive glass 7-0. The Cats converted their 7 second chance opportunities into 2 second chance points while MISSISSIPPI STATE used their 0 second chances to score 0 second chance points.
MISSISSIPPI STATE had an efficiency of 0.91 ppp on its 34 first chance possessions and 0. 000 ppp on its 0 second chance possessions. Kentucky had an efficiency of 1.09 ppp on its 34 first chance possessions and 0.286 ppp on its 7 second chance possession. The Cats grabbed a 38.9% of its misses and MISSISSIPPI STATE grabbed 0.0% of its missed shots in the first half.
The Bulldogs open the second half with a basket to trim the lead to 7 points, 39-33, but the Cats then start a 10-0 run to sprint out to a game high 17 point lead, 49-33 at the under 16 media timeout. The Cats made 4-6 shots in the segment, while MSU was 1-4 and had 4 turnovers. In the second segment, the Cats continued their run to a 20 point lead, 53-33, but MSU scored the final 4 points of the segment to trim the lead back to 16 points, 53-37 at the under 12 media timeout.
In the third segment, the Cats continue to maintain a lead in the mid to high teens, and lead by 15 at the under 8 media timeout, 65-50. At the under 4 media timeout, the Cats lead by only 8 points, 72-64.
Cats hang on to win by 6, 80-74.
UK scored its 80 points on 71 possessions for the game, and MISSISSIPPI STATE scored its 74 points on 73 possessions.
The Cats won the battle of the boards 33-20, and the Cats controlled the offensive rebounds 11-3. Kentucky used its 11 second chance possessions to score 11 second chance points, and MISSISSIPPI STATE used its 3 second chance possessions to score 4 second chance points. MISSISSIPPI STATE had an offensive efficiency of 0.959 ppp on its 73 first chance possessions and 1.333 ppp for its 3 second chance possessions. UK had 0.972 ppp on its 71 first chance possessions and 1.000 ppp on its 11 second chance possessions. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed 39.3%of its misses as offensive rebounds while MISSISSIPPI STATE was able to convert 12.0% of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.
UK hit well from the free throw line in this game, making 15-20 [75.0%]. MISSISSIPPI STATE made 14-16 [87.5%] for the game. Field goal shooting for UK was 28-55 overall [50.9%] and 9-23 from long range [39.1%]. For ALABAMA, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was a 21-38 [55.3%] and from long range, MISSISSIPPI STATE hit 6-13 [46.2%].
The Cats committed 17 turnovers, one for every 4.2 possessions. The Cats forced 19 MISSISSIPPI STATE turnovers, one for every 3.8 possessions.
Next Game On Schedule: Saturday afternoon at Auburn in the seventeenth regular season and fifth SEC game of the 2015-16 season .
Submitted by Richard Cheeks
Submitted by Richard Cheeks