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2015-16 Season Analytical Writings
The regular season is complete, 23-8, 13-5 in the SEC with a co-championship of the SEC. The Cats had to share this championship with Texas A&M primarily due to the two vagaries of the game. First, the schedule maker had Texas A&M and the Cats only meeting once, in College Station, and then the SEC referees slapped Isaac Humphries with an unnecessary technical foul that snatched a championship clinching road victory from the Cats and forced the co-championship upon them. Then, the Cats rolled through the SEC Tournament to face these same Aggies in the Championship game, winning this time on the neutral court and demonstrating their overall superiority.
Then, to add insult to these vagaries, the NCAA selection committee appears complete unable to understand the subtleties of these events and circumstances, and pre-determined to give Texas A&M a #3 seed in the West and the Cats a #4 seed in the East. The West Region clearly provides the easiest trip to the Final Four, and the East provides the toughest. However, such is the usual condition for Coach Calipari and the Wildcats when fates are placed in the hands of these esteemed scholars who clearly are more interested in non-basketball stories like a forced matchup between the Cats and the Hoosiers than any semblance of equity based on the quality of a team's level of play.
Well, it is easy and common to rail against such things as scheduling vagaries, officiating misjudgments, and NCAA seeding stupidity. None of that does anyone any good, and the facts remain that to win the NCAA Basketball Championship requires any team to win six consecutive games against the best the game has to offer that particular season. 2016 will be no different, and the Cats' quest for #9 starts on Thursday night in Des Moines, Iowa against Stoney Brook. If the Cats survive and advance to the second round, they will meet the winner of the Indiana vs Tennessee Chattanooga first round game. Looking ahead UNC and probably Xavier stand in the Cats' path to another Final Four.
Stony Brook brings a 26-6 record that includes the American East Conference Tournament championship. The Seawolves have played four games against three opponents common to the Cats. Stony Brook lost at Vanderbilt in the second game of the season by 7 in OT. Stony Brook won at NJIT by 22 points, and they split a pair of games, home and away, against Albany, winning by 6 at home and losing by 12 on the road.
Stony Brook has played its 32 games at an average tempo of about 68 to 69 possessions per game, scoring 76.8 ppg (1.122 ppp) and allowing an average 63.4 ppg (0.929 ppp). Stony Brook has turned the ball over on 16.7% of its possessions while forcing turnovers on 18.7% of opponent possessions. On the Boards, Stony Brook has secured an offensive rebounding rate of 35.7%, and a defensive rebounding rate of 74.7%. The Stony Brook schedule has a strength of schedule of 0.3755 (#290).
In contrast, the Cats have averaged about 69 to 70 possessions per game, producing 79.7 ppg (1.152 ppp) and allowing 68.3 ppg (0.979 ppp). The Cats have committed turnovers on 16.0% of its possessions and forced turnovers on 17.7% of opponent possessions. On the Boards, the Cats' rebounding rates have been 37.8% and 68.3% on the offensive and defensive ends. The Cats have a strength of schedule of 0.6892 (#31).
Based on this distribution, the analysis tips in favor of the Cats with a theoretical margin of 18 points, 81-73 in a game played at a pace of 69 possessions for the Cats and 69 possessions for TEXAS A&M. Pomeroy has this as a10 point Kentucky favorite, 77-67, at a pace of 66 possessions. Vegas opens with UK a 13 point favorite, and within a few hours, the line has slipped to 14 points.
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Coach Calipari starts Skal Labissiere, Isaiah Briscoe, Tyler Ulis, Jamal Murray, and Alex Poythress.
The Cats control the opening tip and go inside to Alex Poythress but he fails to draw iron. However, after a SB miss, Skal Labissiere hits a 15 foot jump shot to open the scoring. SB ties the score at 2-2. Isaiah Briscoe lifts the Cats back into a 2 point lead with a pair of free throws, but SB again ties the score at 4-4. Alex Poythress gets a dunk to give the Cats another 2 point lead, but SB will have a pair of free throws after the under 16 media timeout with yet another opportunity to keep pace with the Cats' scoring. In the opening segment, SB got 11 shots to UK's 7 shots because of a 5-0 advantage on the offensive glass, and an overall 10-3 advantage on rebounds. In the second segment, each team managed only 4 points, one basket and 2 free throws for each team. As before, SB will have a pair of free throws to start the third segment with another opportunity to pull even with the Cats, who lead 10-8 at the under 12 media timeout. The SB rebounding advantage continues at 16-9 overall and 6-0 on the offensive glass. SB has 4 second chance points to 0 for the Cats.
In the third segment, SB did tie the score again on a pair of free throws at 10-10, but the Cats scored the next 6 points to ease on top by 6, 16-10, at the under 8 media timeout. However, SB will start the next segment with a pair of free throws for the third consecutive segment.
Through the first 13 minutes, the Cats have had 21 shots and 4 free throws, making only 6 field goals (29%) and SB has had 24 shots and 4 free throws, making only 3 baskets (12%). Rebounding continues to be the way SB is staying close to the Cats, despite the Cats' poor shooting. In the 4 th segment, the Cats hit 3 of 4 shots, and a pair of free throws to move on top of SB by 11, 24-13, prompting a SB timeout with 4:45 remaining in the first half. The rebounding is also beginning to shift in the Cats favor, with the SB advantages slipping to 4 total rebounds, and a 9-3 advantage on the offensive glass, leading to a 4-2 advantage in second chance points. At the under 4 media timeout, the Cats lead has expanded to 13 points, 26-13, after a steal by Tyler Ulis turns into another run out basket.
The Cats lead 33-19 at the half, outscoring SB 23-9 from the under 12 media timeout to the half.
Kentucky scored 33 points on 36 possessions (0.92 ppp) while SB scored 19 points on 33 possessions (0.58 ppp). The Cats shot poorly in the first half making 11-34 (32.4%) including 0-7 (0.0%) from long range. SB shot the ball poorly, 7-36 overall (19.4%) which included 0-5 (0.0%) from long range. From the line, the Cats were 10-10 (100.0%) while SB was 5-6 (83.3%). The Cats committed 2 turnovers, one for each 18.0 possessions, and the Cats forced SB into 6 turnovers, one for each 5.5 possessions.
On the boards, the Seawolves won the battle 30-23, and the Seawolves won the battle on the offensive glass 12-5 that resulted in an 6-5 advantage in second chance points for the Seawolves. SB had an efficiency of 0.39 ppp on its 33 first chance possessions and 0.50 ppp on its 12-second chance possessions. Kentucky had an efficiency of 0.78 ppp on its 36 first chance possessions and 1.00 ppp on its 5-second chance possession. The Cats grabbed 21.7% of its misses and SB grabbed 40.0% of its missed shots in the first half.
Kentucky opens the second half with a basket by Alex Poythress, and after Tyler Ulis drives to score at the rim to extend the Cats' lead to 19 points, 42-23, SB takes a timeout with 17:03 remaining in the game. At the under 16 media timeout, the Cats lead stands at 22 points, 47-25. At the under 8 media timeout, the Cats lead by 30, 68-38.
At the under 4 media timeout, the Cats' lead is 27, 76-49.
Cats win 85-57.
UK scored its 85 points on 70 possessions for the game, and STONY BROOK scored its 57 points on 71 possessions.
The Seawolves controlled the Boards, 46-45, and the Seawolves won the battle on the offensive glass 25-11. Kentucky used its 11 second chance possessions to score 15 second chance points, and STONY BROOK used its 25 second chance possessions to score 19 second chance points. STONY BROOK had an offensive efficiency of 0.535 ppp on its 71 first chance possessions and 0.760 ppp for its 25 second chance possessions. UK had 1.000 ppp on its 70 first chance possessions and 1.363 ppp on its 11 second chance possessions. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed 34.4% of its misses as offensive rebounds while STONY BROOK was able to convert 42.4% of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.
UK hit well from the free throw line in this game, making 15-17 [88.2%]. STONY BROOK made 14-18 [77.8%] for the game. Field goal shooting for UK was 33-63 overall [52.4%] and 4-14 from long range [28.6%]. For STONY BROOK, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was a 17-62 [27.4%] and from long range, STONY BROOK hit 3-13 [23.1%].
The Cats committed 10 turnovers, one for every 7.0 possessions. The Cats forced 14 STONY BROOK turnovers, one for every 5.1 possessions.
Next Game On Schedule: The Cats will next play in the second round of the NCAA Tournament against Indiana in Des Moines on Saturday afternoon.
Submitted by Richard Cheeks
A Player's Contribution To Final Scoring Margin
Submitted by Richard Cheeks