2015-16 Season Analytical Writings

Cats Take To Road For Last Times This Week
First At Vanderbilt

Last week, the Cats lost Derek Willis to an ankle injury at Texas A&M, and then got Alex Poythress back from a knee injury on Tuesday. Alex Poythress picked up right where he had left off, and delivered an inside presence that the Cats needed in handling Alabama with greater ease than anticipated. As the season enters the final 3 games, the Cats continue to hold the #1 spot in the SEC at 11-4, but the lead is tenuous because Texas A&M sits only 1 game back with a much more favorable finishing schedule than the Cats.

The Cats must finish the season with road games at #27 Vanderbilt on Saturday and at #43 Florida on Tuesday night before closing it out at Rupp the following Saturday against a reeling LSU team. A&M on the other hand close with road games at #169 Missouri on Saturday and at #187 Auburn on Tuesday before closing at home against #27 Vanderbilt the following Saturday. A&M is favored to win out from here, while the Cats will not be favored on Saturday at Vanderbilt, and the trip to Gainesville to face a wounded team of Gators will be a dangerous situation. The Cats must match A&M's record over the final three games to claim the #1 seed in the SEC Tournament because one more loss than the Aggies will drop the two into a tie, and the Aggies earned the tie breaker last Saturday in that OT win over the Cats.

The SEC Tournament significance is the difference in 3 games in 48 hours instead of 3 games in 42 hours.

Vanderbilt could still be in the hunt for a first place finish if they can beat the Cats and the Aggies over the next 8 days, and the Cats also fall to the Gators. That scenario could set up a 3 way tie for first place. South Carolina could also end up in a tie for first if they win out by winning at Mississippi State, at Arkansas, and at home over Georgia. Everyone else in the league trails the Cats by 3 or more games with only 3 games to play.

All of the possible permutations that can occur over the last 3 games do not matter nearly as much as the need to take care of today's business today. Today's business is to get out of Nashville with a win over the Commodores. Vanderbilt brings a 17-11, 9-6 SEC record into this encounter with the Cats. The Cats record now stands at 21-7, 11-4 in the SEC, and in their first encountered at Rupp Arena on January 23, 2016, the Cats handled the Commodores with much ease, winning 76-57. Since that first game, Vanderbilt has won 6 and lost 3 times. The Cats have also won 6 and lost 3 since their first encounter with Vanderbilt, and the Cats have won 5 of their last 6 games.

VANDERBILT has played its 28 games at an average tempo of about 71 possessions per game, scoring 77.3 ppg (1.087 ppp) and allowing an average 67.2 ppg (0.949 ppp). VANDERBILT has turned the ball over on 16.8% of its possessions while forcing turnovers on 14.5% of opponent possessions. On the Boards, VANDERBILT has secured an offensive rebounding rate of 27.0%, and a defensive rebounding rate of 70.7%. The Vanderbilt schedule has a strength of schedule of 0.6854 (#25).

In contrast, the Cats have averaged about 69 to 70 possessions per game, producing 78.8 ppg (1.134 ppp) and allowing 67.0ppg (0.959 ppp). The Cats have committed turnovers on 16.6% of its possessions and forced turnovers on 18.4% of opponent possessions. On the Boards, the Cats' rebounding rates have been 38.0% and 68.8% on the offensive and defensive ends. The Cats have a strength of schedule of 0.6782 (#29).

Based on this distribution, the analysis tips in favor of the Commodores with a theoretical margin of 3 points, 74-71 in a game played at a pace of 70 possessions for the Cats and 70 possessions for Vanderbilt. Pomeroy figures the Game in Vanderbilt's favor by 1 point, 74-73 at a pace of 67 possessions. Vegas opened with the ‘Dores a 1 1/2 point favorite.

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, Marcus Lee, Tyler Ulis, Jamal Murray, and Alex Poythress. Coach Calipari has moved Alex Poythress in and plans to bring Isaac Humphries from the Bench today.

Vanderbilt controls the opening tip, draws first blood, and following a Kentucky dry trip, moves on top 4-0 on a pair of free throws. The Cats then run off the next 10 points on a pair of 3 pointers by Jamal Murray, a layup by Isaiah Briscoe, and a basket off a Vandy turnover. Vandy stops the UK run with a 3 pointer of their own, but the Cats answer with a lob to Marcus Lee, who scores and is fouled. The Cats lead 12-7 at the under 16 media timeout, and Marcus Lee will have his free throw after the break. In the second segment, the Commodores scored 9 straight to move from 6 down, 15-9, to up by 3, 18-15. The Cats stop the run, and trail by 1 point, 18-17 at the under 12 media timeout.

In the third segment, the Cats regain the lead, moving on top by 5, 24-19, before a basket at the end of the segment pulled Vanderbilt to within 3, 24-21, at the under 8 media timeout with 6:44 remaining. In addition, Vandy will have a free throw to complete a 3 point play after the timeout. In a short 4 th segment, the Cats move on top by 8, 35-27, on a 3 pointer by Jamal Murray. However, Vanderbilt scored a second chance basket to cut the lead to 6, 35-29, at the under 4 media timeout, and as before, Vandy will have a free throw to complete a 3 point play after the timeout.

After moving on top by 8, 38-30, the Cats only get one more point in the half and Vanderbilt closes to within 3 points at the half, 39-36.

Kentucky scored 39 points on 30 possessions (1.30 ppp) while VANDERBILT scored 36 points on 33 possessions (1.09 ppp). The Cats shot well in the first half making 16-29 (55.2%) including 4-9 (44.4%) from long range. VANDERBILT shot the ball very poorly, 13-32 overall (40.6%) which included 3-8 (37.5%) from long range. From the line, the Cats were 3-9 (33.3%) while VANDERBILT was 7-11 (63.6%). The Cats committed 2 turnovers, one for each 15.0 possessions, and the Cats forced VANDERBILT into 2 turnovers, one for each 16.5 possessions.

On the boards, the Cats won the battle 20-15, and each team grabbed 5 offensive rebounds that resulted in a 7-6 advantage in second chance points for the Cats. VANDERBILT had an efficiency of 0.91 ppp on its 33 first chance possessions and 1.20 ppp on its 5 second chance possessions. Kentucky had an efficiency of 1.07 ppp on its 30 first chance possessions and 1.400 ppp on its five second chance possession. The Cats grabbed 33.3% of its misses and VANDERBILT grabbed 25.0% of its missed shots in the first half.

Second Half:

Vanderbilt opens play in the second half with turnover, and Jamal Murray hit his 5 th 3 pointer of the game to push the UK lead back out to 6 points. However, Vanderbilt battles back over the balance of the segment to pull within 2 points, 47-45, at the under 16 media timeout, and Vandy will have the ball. Vanderbilt retakes the lead on a 3 pointer. After a Cat missed shot, Vanderbilt goes on top by 4 on a second chance 3 pointer, forcing Coach Calipari to take a timeout with the Cats down 51-47, to match their biggest lead of the game. Another 3 pointer by Jamal Murray trims the lead to 1 point, 55-54 at the under 12 media timeout with 11:01 remaining in the game and Vanderbilt in possession of the ball.

Both Skal Labissiere and Alex Poythress are now playing with 4 fouls. At the under 8 media timeout, Vanderbilt continues to hold a 4 point lead, 60-56, and the Cats have the ball. The Cats fail to score when Isaiah Briscoe misses a pair of free throw attempts, and Vandy extends the lead to 7 points on a 3 point play following an offensive rebound. Following a miss by Tyler Ulis, Vanderbilt goes up by 9 points, 65-56, as Alex Poythress fouls out with 6:30 remaining. At the under 4 media timeout, the Cats trail by 8, 68-60, and Jamal Murray will have a pair of free throws after the timeout.

Cats lose 74-62.


UK scored its 62 points on 62 possessions for the game, and VANDERBILT scored its 74 points on 65 possessions.

The Commodores controlled the Boards, 39-37, and the Commodores won the battle on the offensive glass 11-9. Kentucky used its 9 second chance possessions to score 11 second chance points, and VANDERBILT used its 11 second chance possessions to score 19 second chance points. VANDERBILT had an offensive efficiency of 0.846 ppp on its 65 first chance possessions and 1.727 ppp for its 11 second chance possessions. UK had 0.823 ppp on its 62 first chance possessions and 1.222 ppp on its 9 second chance possessions. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed 24.3% of its misses as offensive rebounds while VANDERBILT was able to convert 28.2% of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.

UK hit poorly from the free throw line in this game, making 10-23 [43.5%]. VANDERBILT made 16-23 [69.6%] for the game. Field goal shooting for UK was 23-55 overall [41.8%] and 6-22 from long range [27.3%]. For VANDERBILT, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was a 20-46 [43.5%] and from long range, VANDERBILT hit 6-16 [37.5%].

The Cats committed 5 turnovers, one for every 12.4 possessions. The Cats forced 5 VANDERBILT turnovers, one for every 13.0 possessions.

Next Game On Schedule: Tuesday Evening against Florida at Gainesville at 7:00 PM in the 30 th regular season and 17 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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