2015-16 Season Analytical Writings

Cats Travel To South Carolina To Begin Stretch Run On Season

As difficult as it seems to believe, the 2015-16 basketball regular season is drawing to its close. The schedule makers try to place games between teams they believe will be contenders for this time of year, and the Kentucky schedule is certainly consistent with that philosophy. The top six teams in the SEC after the first 11 games are Kentucky, South Carolina, LSU, Texas A&M, Florida, and Vanderbilt. The Cats will play each of the other 5 teams, and will travel to South Carolina, Texas A&M, Vanderbilt, and Florida over these last seven games.

This important stretch run begins on Saturday afternoon at South Carolina. The current records and Pomeroy Rankings for these top teams are:





AgainstTop 6

South Carolina
Texas A&M

It should be clear that UK has the toughest row to hoe as it works its way to the finish line. If there is ever a time that the “one game at a time” mantra should apply, it is now. The Cats need to completely focus on “the next opponent” and nothing else for the next 3 ½ weeks. The Cats are currently tied with South Carolina (and LSU) for the top of the SEC with 8-3 records. Saturday's encounter in Columbia, South Carolina will be for first place in the league, and for the tie breaker between these two team. However, the importance of this game to the Cats is heightened by the fact that after Saturday, South Carolina will only have one more “test” on its remaining schedule. A USC win on Saturday will give the Gamecocks the inside track to the SEC Championship.

South Carolina brings a 21-3; 8-3 record into this SEC showdown with the Cats, who sport a record of 18-6, 8-3 in the SEC. South Carolina completed their non-conference schedule 13-0. One of USC's non-conference opponents is not a D1 program, reducing their D1 record to 20-3; 8-3. South Carolina's most impressive non-conference wins came at the expense of #50 Tulsa on a neutral court and at #56 Clemson by 6. Halfway through the SEC season, the Gamecocks and Cats have each played a very similar schedule as the Cats, including two games against Alabama. The Gamecocks have already played at Texas A&M while the Cats have already encountered Florida at Rupp.

SOUTH CAROLINA has played its first 23 D1 games at an average tempo of about 73 to 74 possessions per game, scoring 78.0 ppg (1.057 ppp) and allowing an average 69.4 ppg (0.947 ppp). SOUTH CAROLINA has turned the ball over on 19.1% of its possessions while forcing turnovers on 20.6% of opponent possessions. On the Boards, SOUTH CAROLINA has secured an offensive rebounding rate of 38.7%, and a defensive rebounding rate of 72.5%. The South Carolina schedule has a strength of schedule of 0.5704 (#91).

In contrast, the Cats have averaged about 70 possessions per game, producing 78.4 ppg (1.122 ppp) and allowing 67.1 ppg (0.957 ppp). The Cats have committed turnovers on 17.2% of its possessions and forced turnovers on 18.9% of opponent possessions. On the Boards, the Cats' rebounding rates have been 38.6% and 69.2% on the offensive and defensive ends. The Cats have a strength of schedule of 0.6535 (#38).

Based on this distribution, the ANE Theoretical Margin tips in favor of Kentucky by 4 points, 75-71 in a game played at a pace of 72 possessions for the Cats and 72 possessions for South Carolina. Pomeroy figures the Game in Kentucky's favor by 1 point, 75-74 at a pace of 71 possessions.

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, Marcus Lee, Tyler Ulis, and Jamal Murray. Against Florida, the Cats got solid contributions from Isaac Humphries in Alex Poythress' absence.

Marcus Lee controlled the opening tip and the Cats got a game starting 3 pointer by Derek Willis from the right corner. The Cats moved on top 7-2, and following a defensive rebound of a USC missed shot, the officials called a foul. Then the officials added a technical foul on Coach Calipari. When Coach Calipari complained, the official T'd him up a second time, ejecting him from the game. While the USC player only made 1 of 4 technical foul shots, the Cats failed to score on their next two possessions, and USc scored 5 more to move on top 8-7 at the under 16 media timeout. In the second segment, the Cats get back on track, and back on top 16-10 at the under 12 media timeout. In addition, Tyler Ulis will have one free throw after the break to complete a three point play.

In the third segment, the Cats do not score a point for their first 5 possessions, and USC trimmed the lead to 2 points, but Tyler Ulis drained a 3 pointer at the end of the shot clock and Isaiah Briscoe made a layup on a drive through the USC defense to lift the Cats to a 5 point lead, 21-16, at the under 8 media timeout. After the timeout, Jamal Murray steals a USC pass and goes the length of the court for a layup, and following a USC missed shot, Tyler Ulis hits a 10 foot baseline jump shot to lift the Cats on top by 9, 25-16. USC's Frank Martin takes a timeout with 6:55 remaining in the first half.

In the fourth segment, the Cats continue to pull away, extending their lead to 12, 32-20, at the under 4 media timeout. However, the Cats are not only without their head coach, they are working their way into some serious foul trouble, with 3 each on Skal Labissiere and Isaac Humphries, and 2 each on Derek Willis and Marcus Lee. Cats close out the half with a 14 point lead, 41-27.

Kentucky scored 42 points on 34 possessions (1.21 ppp) while SOUTH CAROLINA scored 27 points on 33 possessions (0.82 ppp). The Cats shot well in the first half making 16-34 (47.1%) including 4-10 (40.0%) from long range. SOUTH CAROLINA shot the ball poorly, 9-26 overall (34.6%) which included 2-7 (28.6%) from long range. From the line, the Cats were 5-7 (71.4%) while SOUTH CAROLINA was 7-15 (46.7%). The Cats committed 6 turnovers, one for each 5.7 possessions, and the Cats forced SOUTH CAROLINA into 9 turnovers, one for each 3.7 possessions.

On the boards, the Cats won the battle 21-19, and the Cats won the battle on the offensive glass 9-8. The Cats converted their 9 second chance opportunities into 6 second chance points while SOUTH CAROLINA used their 8 second chances to score 6 second chance points.

SOUTH CAROLINA had an efficiency of 0.64 ppp on its 33 first chance possessions and 0.75 ppp on its 8 second chance possessions. Kentucky had an efficiency of 1.03 ppp on its 34 first chance possessions and 0.67 ppp on its 9 second chance possession. The Cats grabbed 45.0% of its misses and SOUTH CAROLINA grabbed 40.0% of its missed shots in the first half.

After the double technical foul on Coach Calipari with 17:28 remaining in the first half, USC held a 8-7 lead. Over the balance of the half, the Cats outscored the Gamecocks 34-19. In addition, at the half, the officials changed a Tyler Ulis 2 pointer to a 3 pointer, increasing the lead at the half 42-27.

Second Half:

The Gamecocks open the second half with two misses, and three offensive rebounds leading to Derek Willis's third foul. The free throws trimmed the one time 18 point UK lead to 13. However, a three pointer by Derek Willis, a basket by Jamal Murray, and a slam by Marcus Lee off a turnover lifted the Cats to their biggest lead, 20 points, 49-29, forcing Frank Martin to take another timeout early in the second half. At the under 16 media timeout, the Cats lead by 24, 55-31.

After the Cats go up by 29, 60-31, USC scores 6 straight on back to back turnovers by Marcus Lee, and Derek Willis's 4 th foul with 13:00 remaining in the game. The Cats then get the points back to lead by 29, 68-39 at the under 12 media timeout. However, Isaac Humphries' 4 th foul took the game to the media timeout, and USC will have a pair of free throws after the break. At the under 8 media timeout, the Cats lead by 32, 75-43. At the under 4 media timeout, the Cats lead stands at 27, 87-60 with 2:24 remaining in the game.

Cats win 89-62.


UK scored its 89 points on 69 possessions for the game, and SOUTH CAROLINA scored its 62 points on 68 possessions.

The Gamecocks controlled the Boards, 39-38, and Gamecocks won the battle on the offensive glass 16-14. Kentucky used its 14 second chance possessions to score 14 second chance points, and SOUTH CAROLINA used its 16 second chance possessions to score 16 second chance points. SOUTH CAROLINA had an offensive efficiency of 0.677 ppp on its 68 first chance possessions and 1.000 ppp for its 16 second chance possessions. UK had 1.087 ppp on its 69 first chance possessions and 1.000 ppp on its 14 second chance possessions. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed 37.8% of its misses as offensive rebounds while SOUTH CAROLINA was able to convert 40.0% of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.

UK hit well from the free throw line in this game, making 16-21 [76.2%]. SOUTH CAROLINA made 22-31 [71.0%] for the game. Field goal shooting for UK was 31-64 overall [48.4%] and 11-25 from long range [44.0%]. For SOUTH CAROLINA, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was a 14-41 [34.1%] and from long range, SOUTH CAROLINA hit 4-14 [28.6%].

The Cats committed 12 turnovers, one for every 5.8 possessions. The Cats forced 16 SOUTH CAROLINA turnovers, one for every 4.2 possessions.

Next Game On Schedule: Thursday Evening against Tennessee at Rupp Arena at 7:00 PM in the 26 th regular season and 13 th SEC game of the 2015-16 season .

Submitted by Richard Cheeks


Individual Efficiency Values are NOT adjusted for
Schedule Strength or Venue Weighting
Individual Efficiency Values are based on the following Criteria:

    1. A Player's Contribution To Final Scoring Margin
      Is A Measure New in 2015-16
      As such, it is in an experimental stage.
      for more information about this potential new tracking parameter.


Submitted by Richard Cheeks


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