BIG BLUE FANS FOR
2015-16 Season Analytical Writings
It seems that every year the SEC wars prove more difficult for the Cats than many people expect. The 2016 SEC season has been everything that fans have learned to expect. The Cats have posted impressive road wins over Arkansas, Alabama, and last Saturday at Tennessee. However, the SEC record has been blemished by embarrassing, and inexplicable losses at LSU, Auburn, and Tennessee. The Cats are not finished on the SEC road with difficult trips to A&M, Vanderbilt, and Florida remaining. No one should expect those worthy opponents to play dead for the Cats, but given the Cats' strong performances this entire season against teams ranked in the top 50, there is no reason to believe that the Cats will not turn in high-level performances in those three games, win or lose.
The Cats will have an opportunity to avenge two of these three loses, starting on Thursday night when Tennessee visits Rupp for a rematch. LSU will also appear on the Rupp floor in the last regular season game. Paybacks are hell, and there is no reason to believe either of those rematches will be anything less than the Cats treating these two opponents with no respect on that court. No rematch will be possible for cellar dweller Auburn, but next season, the Cats will begin another significantly long wining streak against the “men from the plains.”
If this UK basketball team was a stock traded on Wall Street, its value would be rising fast in a falling market of overall college basketball. The Cats now stand at the top of the SEC tied with LSU with 9-3 records. The Cats are now favored to finish as the last team standing in the SEC in less than 3 weeks. Finally, I believe the Cats will again be favored to win the 2016 SEC Tournament yet again. These Cats are in the midst of a major late season surge.
Tennessee brings a 12-13; 5-7 record into this rematch with the Cats. The Cats record now stands at 19-6, 9-3 in the SEC, and as noted previously, one of those 3 conference losses occurred on February 2 in Knoxville when the Cats fell asleep at the wheel and allowed Tennessee to come back from a 21 point deficit to beat the Cats by 7. Since that embarrassment, the Cats have responded with three straight wins. However, to be fair, characterizing the Cats' post Tennessee accomplishments simply as “wins” is an understatement. The Cats defeated #32 Florida by 19, #81 Georgia by 34, and #59 South Carolina by 27 in Columbia. In contrast, Tennessee has lost 2 of its three games since it stole that victory from the Cats. Tennessee did place a nice 26 point win over #183 Auburn between losses to #88 Arkansas by 18 and to hapless #168 Missouri by 11.
TENNESSEE has played its 25 D1 games at an average tempo of about 72 to 73 possessions per game, scoring 76.5 ppg (1.057 ppp) and allowing an average 75.0 ppg (1.035 ppp). TENNESSEE has turned the ball over on 15.4% of its possessions while forcing turnovers on 18.1% of opponent possessions. On the Boards, TENNESSEE has secured an offensive rebounding rate of 32.4%, and a defensive rebounding rate of 64.7%. The Tennessee schedule has a strength of schedule of 0.6414 (#51).
In contrast, the Cats have averaged about 70 possessions per game, producing 78.8 ppg (1.126 ppp) and allowing 66.9 ppg (0.954 ppp). The Cats have committed turnovers on 17.2% of its possessions and forced turnovers on 19.0% of opponent possessions. On the Boards, the Cats' rebounding rates have been 38.6% and 68.8% on the offensive and defensive ends. The Cats have a strength of schedule of 0.6715 (#29).
Based on this distribution, the analysis tips in favor of Kentucky with a theoretical margin of 15 points, 82-67 in a game played at a pace of 71 possessions for the Cats and 71 possessions for Tennessee. Pomeroy figures the Game in Kentucky's favor by 16 points, 85-69 at a pace of 70 possessions. Vegas opened with the Cats a 14 ½ point favorite, but the line has widened to 17 points this evening.
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Coach Calipari starts Isaiah Briscoe, Derek Willis, Marcus Lee, Tyler Ulis, and Jamal Murray.
Marcus Lee controls the opening tip, but the Cats commit a turnover on its first possession. UT reciprocates, and Tyler Ulis puts the Cats into the early lead, 2-0. However, Tennessee scores the next 7 points to move on top by 5 before the Cats trim the UT lead to 1 point, 7-6 at the under 16 media timeout. In the second segment, each team only managed to score 2 points, UT from the line and the Cats on 1 for 4 shooting from the field. Tennessee leads 9-8 at the under 12 media timeout.
In the third segment, the Cats outscored UT 13-3 on the strength of 3 pointers by Murray and two by Derek Willis. At the under 8 media timeout, the Cats lead by 9, 21-12, and Jamal Murray will have a pair of free throws after the break. After the teams trade baskets with the lead swinging between 9 and 11 points, UT hits a 3 pointer, and a pair of free throws to pull within 6, 26-20. Coach Calipari takes a timeout with 5:09 remaining. After the timeout, the Cats fail to score, and UT cuts the lead to 4. Jamal Murray hits a 3 pointer to extend the Cats' lead to 7 points and possession at the under 4 media timeout, 29-22. In the last segment of the first half, the teams played on relatively even terms, and the Cats lead by 6, 36-30, at the half.
Kentucky scored 36 points on 34 possessions (1.06 ppp) while TENNESSEE scored 30 points on 33 possessions (0.91 ppp). The Cats shot poorly in the first half making 12-30 (40.0%) including 4-11 (36.4%) from long range. TENNESSEE shot the ball poorly, 10-28 overall (35.7%) which included 2-7 (28.6%) from long range. From the line, the Cats were 8-12 (66.7%) while TENNESSEE was 8-12 (66.7%). The Cats committed 4 turnovers, one for each 8.5 possessions, and the Cats forced TENNESSEE into 6 turnovers, one for each 5.5 possessions.
On the boards, the Vols won the battle 21-20, and the Vols won the battle on the offensive glass 7-6. The Cats converted their 6 second chance opportunities into 7 second chance points while TENNESSEE used their 7 second chances to score 4 second chance points.
TENNESSEE had an efficiency of 0.79 ppp on its 33 first chance possessions and 0.57 ppp on its 7 second chance possessions. Kentucky had an efficiency of 0.85 ppp on its 34 first chance possessions and 1.167 ppp on its 6 second chance possession. The Cats grabbed 30.0% of its misses and TENNESSEE grabbed 33.3% of its missed shots in the first half.
The Cats open the second half with a roar, outscoring the Vols 18-6 to extend their lead to a game high 18 points, 54-36. Coach Barnes calls a timeout with 16:09 remaining in the game after Tyler Ulis hits a 3 pointer in transition, the third 3 pointer of the segment for the Cats. After the timeout, UT makes a basket and will have a free throw to complete a 3 point play after the under 16 media timeout, with the Cats on top by 15 with 15:48 remaining in the game. In an extended second segment, the Cats continue to build their lead, leading by 22, 67-45, at the under 12 media timeout with 10:36 remaining in the game.
At the under 8 media timeout, the Cats lead has been trimmed to 15 points, 67-52. In the 4 th segment, Tennessee continues to chip away at the Kentucky lead, cutting it to 12 points with a 3 pointer with 6:10 remaining in the game. The score is now 69-57. The Cats respond to the challenge, finishing the 4 th segment on a 9-4 run to lead by 17 at the under 4 media timeout, 78-61.
Cats win by 10, 80-70.
UK scored its 80 points on 66 possessions for the game, and TENNESSEE scored its 70 points on 66 possessions.
The Cats controlled the Boards, 45-39, and the Cats won the battle on the offensive glass 14-13. Kentucky used its 14 second chance possessions to score 15 second chance points, and TENNESSEE used its 13 second chance possessions to score 13 second chance points. TENNESSEE had an offensive efficiency of 0.863 ppp on its 66 first chance possessions and 1.000 ppp for its 13 second chance possessions. UK had 0.985 ppp on its 66 first chance possessions and 1.071 ppp on its 14 second chance possessions. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed 35.0% of its misses as offensive rebounds while TENNESSEE was able to convert 29.5% of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.
UK hit well from the free throw line in this game, making 17-23 [73.9%]. TENNESSEE made 21-30 [70.0%] for the game. Field goal shooting for UK was 26-62 overall [41.9%] and 11-24 from long range [45.8%]. For TENNESSEE, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was a 17-44 [38.6%] and from long range, TENNESSEE hit 5-14 [35.7%].
The Cats committed 8 turnovers, one for every 8.2 possessions. The Cats forced 7 TENNESSEE turnovers, one for every 9.4 possessions.
Next Game On Schedule: Saturday Evening against Texas A&M at College Station, Texas at 6:30 PM in the 27 th regular season and 14 th SEC game of the 2015-16 season .
Submitted by Richard Cheeks
A Player's Contribution To Final Scoring Margin
Submitted by Richard Cheeks