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2015-16 Season Analytical Writings
For the fourth time in the last five games, the Kentucky Wildcats find themselves playing on the road, this time at Arkansas. On Saturday, the Cats allowed a double digit second half lead evaporate for the second consecutive game, but this time, their second half collapse cost them the win. Auburn beat a UK basketball team for the first time in their last 19 tries, and at the end, the Auburn fans stormed the basketball court. The Cats fell to 13-4, 3-2 in the SEC. Life in the SEC does not figure to be any kinder to the Cats on Thursday night when they play the Razorbacks in Bud Walton Arena.
The questions about this team are not receiving answers, at least not the type of answers that comfort the Big Blue Nation. Coach Calipari indicated in the wake of the Auburn loss that he would reevaluate the players, and all but promised lineup changes when the Cats take the floor to face the Hogs. One change that seems obvious to this fan is to reward Derek Willis for his strong showing at Auburn, and his overall strong contributions to this team all season long. As I have written before during this season, I believe the strongest lineup Coach Calipari can use includes Willis with Tyler Ulis, Dominique Hawkins, Alex Poythress, and Marcus Lee. Of course, Dominique Hawkins continues to recover from a high ankle sprain, so that option is probably not available yet, but when Dominique Hawkins is ready to go he has earned the start.
Now, the team is travelling to Fayetteville, Arkansas where some very strong UK teams have left with losses. Fayetteville has been a difficult venue for all UK teams over the years, and Mike Anderson is certain to have his Hogs ready to deliver 40 minutes of h3ll to these Cats on Thursday.
Arkansas brings a 9-8 record, 3-2 in the SEC, into this meeting with the 13-4; 3-2 Wildcats. Arkansas has lost at #9 Texas A&M by 23 points and at #63 LSU by 2. Arkansas's most embarrassing loss was to #138 Mercer by 3. Arkansas's most impressive win came at the expense of #30 Vanderbilt by 5 points.
Arkansas and Kentucky have not played a common non-conference opponent but have both played Mississippi State and LSU. Arkansas and Kentucky each beat Mississippi State on their home floors. Arkansas finished off the Bulldogs by 14 points, and the Cats slipped past them by 6 after allowing a 20 point second half lead evaporate. Both of these teams lost to LSU at Baton Rouge, the Cats by 22 and the Hogs by 2.
ARKANSAS has played its first 17 games at an average tempo of about 75 possessions per game, scoring 83.8 ppg (1.113 ppp) and allowing an average 75.9 ppg (1.007 ppp). ARKANSAS has turned the ball over on 15.2% of its possessions while forcing turnovers on 20.0% of opponent possessions. On the Boards, ARKANSAS has secured an offensive rebounding rate of 31.9%, and a defensive rebounding rate of 71.7%.
In contrast, the Cats have averaged about 70 to 71 possessions per game, producing 77.3 ppg (1.096 ppp) and allowing 67.7 ppg (0.955 ppp). The Cats have committed turnovers on 18.4% of its possessions and forced turnovers on 19.4% of opponent possessions. On the Boards, the Cats' rebounding rates have been 40.3% and 69.6% on the offensive and defensive ends.
Based on this distribution, the analysis tips in favor of Arkansas by 2 points, 77-75 in a game played at a pace of 73 possessions for the Cats and 73 possessions for Arkansas. Pomeroy figures the Game in Arkansas's favor by 2 points, 79-77 at a pace of 73 possessions. Vegas opens with the Hogs a 1 ½ point favorite, but the line has flipped to the Cats by 2 within a few hours, 78-76.
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Coach Calipari starts Isaiah Briscoe, Derek Willis, Alex Poythress, Tyler Ulis, and Jamal Murray. Dominique Hawkins will not be available for the game tonight.
Arkansas controlled the opening tip, and earned a trip to the charity stripe, making 1 of 2. The Cats countered with a trip to the line by Tyler Ulis, who made both to give the Cats an early lead that they would not relinquish for the balance of the first half. The Cats extended the lead to 7 points, 10-3, at the under 16 media timeout. The lead stood at 10, 17-7, at the under 12 media timeout. The Hogs pulled to within 7 points on a couple of occasions, but the Cats finished the first half strong with a 12 point lead, 36-24.
Kentucky scored 36 points on 30 possessions (1.20 ppp) while ARKANSAS scored 24 points on 31 possessions (0.77 ppp). The Cats shot poorly for most of the half, and a strong finish lifted them to 14-36 (38.9%) including 2-9 (22.2%) from long range. ARKANSAS shot the ball very poorly, 9-25 overall (36.0%) which included 0-3 (0.0%) from long range. From the line, the Cats were 6-7 (85.7%) while ARKANSAS was 6-12 (50.0%). The Cats committed 2 turnovers, one for each 15.0 possessions, and the Cats forced ARKANSAS into 6 turnovers, one for each 5.2 possessions.
On the boards, the Cats won the battle 24-17 and the Cats won the battle on the offensive glass 11-6 The Cats converted their 11 second chance opportunities into 12 second chance points while ARKANSAS used their 6 second chances to score 2 second chance points.
ARKANSAS had an efficiency of 0.71 ppp on its 31 first chance possessions and 0. 33 ppp on its 6 second chance possessions. Kentucky had an efficiency of 0.80 ppp on its 30 first chance possessions and 1.09 ppp on its 11 second chance possession. The Cats grabbed 50.0% of its misses and ARKANSAS grabbed 31.6% of its missed shots in the first half.
The Razorbacks open the second half with a play on the inside, drawing Alex Poythress's third foul of the game. Shortly thereafter, Alex Poythress committed his 4 th foul which sent him to the bench. However, the Cats outscored the Hogs 10-8 in the opening segment of the second half to extend the lead to 14 points, 46-32 at the under 16 media timeout. In the second segment, the Cats extend the lead to 15 points, 52-37, forcing Coach Anderson to take a timeout with 13:47 remaining in the game. At the under 12 media timeout, the Cats are maintaining the 15 point lead, 56-41.
In the third segment, Marcus Lee fouls out again, with just 4 points in very limited time on the floor, but the Cats extend their lead to 18 points, 63-45 at the under 8 media timeout. At the under 4 media timeout, the Cats maintain their lead at 14 points, 70-56, and Jamal Murray will have a pair of free throws to start the game's final segment.
Cats win by 14, 80-66.
UK scored its 80 points on 65 possessions for the game, and ARKANSAS scored its 66 points on 68 possessions.
The Cats won the battle of the boards 43-34, and the Cats controlled the offensive rebounds 16-12. Kentucky used its 16 second chance possessions to score 19 second chance points, and ARKANSAS used its 12 second chance possessions to score 8 second chance points. ARKANSAS had an offensive efficiency of 0.853 ppp on its 68 first chance possessions and 0.667 ppp for its 12 second chance possessions. UK had 0.938 ppp on its 65 first chance possessions and 1.188 ppp on its 16 second chance possessions. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed 41.9% of its misses as offensive rebounds while ARKANSAS was able to convert 32.0% of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.
UK hit well from the free throw line in this game, making 23-30 [76.7%]. ARKANSAS made 20-31 [64.5%] for the game. Field goal shooting for UK was 26-62 overall [41.9%] and 5-16 from long range [31.3%]. For ARKANSAS, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was a 20-43 [46.5%] and from long range, ARKANSAS hit 2-12 [16.7%].
The Cats committed 6 turnovers, one for every 10.8 possessions. The Cats forced 9 ARKANSAS turnovers, one for every 7.6 possessions.
Next Game On Schedule: Saturday afternoon against Vanderbilt at Rupp Arena in the nineteenth regular season and seventh SEC game of the 2015-16 season .
Submitted by Richard Cheeks
Submitted by Richard Cheeks