2015-16 Season Analytical Writings

Cats Move From The Phog To The Smokies

Despite coming up a little short on Saturday evening in the Phog, the revived Kentucky Wildcats will stay on the road and move from the Phog to the Smokies where they will face a challenge from Rocky Top's Tennessee Volunteers on Tuesday. As the Cats traveled back east from Kansas, they flew over Mark Twain country, and undoubtedly recalled “Reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.” Yes, this UK basketball team has gotten up from its death bed, and has more than a mere pulse. This team has played as well over the last 4 games as any team in the nation.

The Phog poses a daunting obstacle that any visiting team must overcome if they want to leave with a rare win. Oklahoma, the consensus #1 team in the land today, could only get the Jayhawks into overtime, but still left with a loss. The Cats did the same on Saturday. Any Cat fan would have preferred to get out of there with a win, of course, but in the grand scheme of things, the Cats would beat this Kansas team at any other venue.

So, now it is time to get back up, brush off the dust, and move on to the next challenge.

The Cats' next challenge occurs on Tuesday night in the heart of the Smokies where those Orange clad Volunteers lay in wait for an ambush. If the Cats maintain their new found focus and energy, they should get out of the Smokies back on the winning track at the mid-point of their 2016 SEC race.

Tennessee brings a 16-4 record into this Big12-SEC showdown matchup with the Cats, who also sport a 16-4 record. Tennessee has suffered losses t #7 Michigan State by 6 in November, at #6 West Virginia by 11, at #68 Oklahoma State by 19, and at #11 Iowa State by 13. Tennessee claims wins over #1 Oklahoma by 3 in triple OT, #25 Baylor by 28, #31 Vanderbilt by 7. In addition to Vanderbilt, Tennessee and Kentucky have both played #67 UCLA. Of course, the Cats fell at UCLA while Tennessee defeated the Bruins by 19 on a neutral court.

TENNESSEE has played its first 21 games at an average tempo of about 74 possessions per game, scoring 77.4 ppg (1.051 ppp) and allowing an average 75.9 ppg (1.031 ppp). TENNESSEE has turned the ball over on 16.0% of its possessions while forcing turnovers on 17.9% of opponent possessions. On the Boards, TENNESSEE has secured an offensive rebounding rate of 31.7%, and a defensive rebounding rate of 65.6%. The Tennessee schedule has a strength of schedule of 0.6491.

In contrast, the Cats have averaged about 70 possessions per game, producing 78.2 ppg (1.109 ppp) and allowing 67.5 ppg (0.951 ppp). The Cats have committed turnovers on 17.5% of its possessions and forced turnovers on 19.1% of opponent possessions. On the Boards, the Cats' rebounding rates have been 38.8% and 69.8% on the offensive and defensive ends. The Cats have a strength of schedule of 0.6306.

Based on this distribution, the analysis tips in favor of Kentucky by 4 points, 76-73 in a game played at a pace of 72 possessions for the Cats and 72 possessions for Tennessee. Pomeroy figures the Game in Kentucky's favor by 4 points, 79-75 at a pace of 72 possessions. Vegas opened Monday evening with the Cats favored by 4 points, but by Tuesday morning the line has moved to between 6 ½ and 7 points. The ANE analysis is based on the average efficiency of each team based on the entire season's body of work. When the surge is isolated, the Cats move to a 9 point favorite in Knoxville.

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 starts Isaiah Briscoe, Derek Willis, Alex Poythress, Tyler Ulis, and Jamal Murray. Dominique Hawkins may not be available for the game tonight.

Derek Willis controls the opening tip for the Cats. Alex Poythress commits a turnover, and the Vols fails to take advantage. The Cats score first on a second chance basket by Alex Poythress. Following a tieing basket at the Tennessee end, the Cats go on a 6-0 run (3-3 from the line by Tyler Ulis, and a 3 pointer by Tyler Ulis) to lead 8-2 at the under 16 media timeout. In the second segment, the Vols trim the lead to 4 points twice, 8-4 and 10-6, but the Cats finish the segment on an 8-2 run to extend their early lead to 10 points, 18-8, at the under 12 media timeout.

In the 3 rd segment, the Vols opened with their first 3 pointer of the game to trim the Cats' lead to 7 points, but the Cats scored the next 7 points to move on top by 14, 25-11, prompting a Tennessee timeout with 9:37 left in the first half. The Cats continue to build their lead, increasing it to 17 points, 30-13, at the under 8 media timeout with 7:03 remaining in the game. In the 4 th segment, the Cats extended their lead to a game high 21 points, 34-13, but the Vols ended the segment on a 7-0 run to trim the lead to 14 points, 34-20 at the under 4 media timeout.

As the first half winds down, the Vols trimmed the lead to 11 points. With 1:45 remaining, Tyler Ulis turned an ankle, and after the Vols drained a 3 pointer, the Cats got a time out to attend to Tyler Ulis with their lead trimmed to only 8 points, 38-30. While Tyler Ulis remained in the game, he is clearly hurting. Jamal Murray missed, and two more free throws trimmed the lead to only 6 points. The score at the half is 42-36.

Kentucky scored 42 points on 34 possessions (1.24 ppp) while TENNESSEE scored 36 points on 33 possessions (1.09 ppp). The Cats shot well for most of the half, but a weak finish, dropped them to 13-30 (43.3%) including 3-10 (30.0%) from long range. TENNESSEE shot the ball poorly also, 9-27 overall (33.3%) which included 3-9 (33.3%) from long range. From the line, the Cats were 13-14 (92.9%) while TENNESSEE was 14-14 (100.0%). The Cats committed 6 turnovers, one for each 5.7 possessions, and the Cats forced TENNESSEE into 6 turnovers, one for each 5.5 possessions.

On the boards, the Cats won the battle 19-17 and the Cats won the battle on the offensive glass 8-7. The Cats converted their 8 second chance opportunities into 4 second chance points while TENNESSEE used their 7 second chances to score 0 second chance points.

TENNESSEE had an efficiency of 1.09 ppp on its 33 first chance possessions and 0.00 ppp on its 7 second chance possessions. Kentucky had an efficiency of 1.12 ppp on its 34 first chance possessions and 0.50 ppp on its 8 second chance possession. The Cats grabbed 44.4% of its misses and TENNESSEE grabbed 38.9% of its missed shots in the first half.

Second Half:

The Vols open the second half with a basket to trim the lead to 4 points. The Cats, led by Jamal Murray, match the Tennessee scoring with 6-8 shooting from the field, but the Vols will have a pair of free throws after the under 16 media timeout down 5, 54-49, with 15:32 remaining in the game. The two free throws trims the lead to 3 points.

Following a Kentucky miss and a Kentucky turnover, the Vols make a basket and a 3 pointer to take their first lead of the game, 56-54, prompting UK to take a timeout. Tennessee is getting to the line often, getting the Cats into foul trouble, and when they get to the line, they have been perfect on 20 attempts. After the timeout, Tyler Ulis drained a 3 pointer, and following a UT miss, Derek Willis drained another 3 pointer to put the Cats back on top by 4 points. At the under 12 media timeout, the Cats are clinging to a 2 point lead, 62-60, and are in possession of the ball.

Tennessee went on top by 5, 68-63, but the Cats clawed back even at 70-70. At this point, the Vols made 1 of 2 from the line, and following back to back UK turnovers, made a layup and a 3 pointer to move on top by 6 points, 76-70. Coach Calipari takes a timeout.

The Cats are being beaten from the free throw line, from the 3 point line, on turnovers, and on the Boards. There is not a single statistical category that the Cats have an advantage with 4:18 left in the game.

Following the timeout, the Cats fail to score despite two offensive rebounds, and Alex Poythress fouls out at the other end with 3:27 remaining at the under 4 media timeout. The Cats trim the Vol lead to 3 points with 1:47 remaining in the game on a second chance basket by Marcus Lee.

Cats lose 84-77.


UK scored its 77 points on 67 possessions for the game, and TENNESSEE scored its 84 points on 66 possessions.

The Volunteers won the Boards, 37-36, but Kentucky won the battle on the offensive glass 16-14. Kentucky used its 16 second chance possessions to score 11 second chance points, and TENNESSEE used its 14 second chance possessions to score 7 second chance points. TENNESSEE had an offensive efficiency of 1.167 ppp on its 66 first chance possessions and 0.500 ppp for its 14 second chance possessions. UK had 0.985 ppp on its 67 first chance possessions and 0.688 ppp on its 16 second chance possessions. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed 41.0% of its misses as offensive rebounds while TENNESSEE was able to convert 41.2% of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.

UK hit well from the free throw line in this game, making 18-23 [78.3%]. TENNESSEE made 30-34 [88.2%] for the game. Field goal shooting for UK was 26-62 overall [41.9%] and 7-22 from long range [31.8%]. For TENNESSEE, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was a 15-37 [40.5%] and from long range, TENNESSEE hit 8-19 [42.1%].

The Cats committed 11 turnovers, one for every 6.1 possessions. The Cats forced 8 TENNESSEE turnovers, one for every 8.2 possessions.

Next Game On Schedule: Saturday afternoon against Florida at Rupp in the 23 rd regular season of the 2015-16 season .

Submitted by Richard Cheeks


Submitted by Richard Cheeks


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