2016-17 Season Analytical Writings

Cats Squeeze In Cleveland State Before Thanksgiving

On Sunday night, the Cats had no trouble posting a 34-point win, 93-59, over a very young and clearly weaker opponent, Duquesne. The Cats are also a very young basketball team featuring six freshmen and two sophomores among its top 11 players. However, there is a clear difference between being “Duquesne Young” and “Wildcat Young.” Prior to the Duquesne game, I noted that this group of young Wildcats needed to take the opportunity of three consecutive tune up games in the five days of Thanksgiving week to shore up a couple of issues, shooting and rebounding.

Overall field goal shooting appears reasonable for the vast majority of players, with a couple of notable exceptions. Dominique Hawkins has only made 3 of 11 shots this season, including 0-5 from long range, and De'Aaron Fox has only made 17 of his 45 attempts, including 1-9 from long range. As a team, their long range shooting problems extend beyond De'Aaron Fox and Dominique Hawkins. Isaiah Briscoe (1-7), De'Aaron Fox (1-9), Wenyen Gabriel (1-6), Derek Willis (2-8), and Dominique Hawkins (0-5) account for 35 of the team's 81 attempted 3-point shots, and only 5 of the team's 23 makes from the arc. That is a collective shooting percentage for these five players of 14.2%. Malik Monk (12-31) and Mychal Mulder (6-14) are the only Wildcats who have demonstrated a shooting ability from long range on this team through the first 4 games. This group requires more work in the gym on these shooting issues and better in game shot selection from long range to reach its potential at the offensive end.

The team improved its rebounding against a much smaller and weaker Duquesne team. The Cats outrebounded the Dukes by 17 (49-32) and by nine (16-7) on the offensive end. In addition, the Cats dominated the second chance points against Duquesne, 19-7. The dominance in this game goes beyond the raw numbers. The Cats grabbed 39% of its own misses and 82.5% of Duquesne's missed shots. However, one game does not establish a real correction, but this is a move in the right direction for this team on the glass. For the first time this season, the Cats grabbed more total and offensive rebounds its collective opponents on the strength of the Duquesne rebounding dominance.

Following the Michigan State game, CBS Sports' analytics immediately reacted, moving the Cats into its #1 position. Following the Duquesne dominance, the two wire service polls each responded on Monday by moving Kentucky to their top spots. However, the Cats are still languishing (if that is appropriate) at the #3 spot in the Pomeroy efficiency based analytics. To be sure, at this early stage of the season, whether they are #1, #2, #3, or some other place within the top 5 is much less important than the fact that the Cats are again in this conversation, and it is clear that Kentucky has grabbed the attention of the basketball chattering class yet again.

Calipari now has two more games at Rupp, sandwiched around Thanksgiving on Wednesday afternoon and Friday evening before this team boards a plane for the Bahamas to face Arizona State on November 28. The next tune up game will be against Cleveland State.

Cleveland State has already played three games, with a 1-2 record. Cleveland State has beaten #225 Canisius by 3 points. However, the Vikings lost to #202 Kent State by 5 in OT on a neutral court and lost at #239 Tennessee Martin by 11. They enter this game as the #224 team in the Pomeroy ratings with an ANE of -0.049 ppp with strength of schedule of -0.0465 ppp. The Cats enter this game at #3 with an ANE of 0.271 ppp with strength of schedule of -0.0173 ppp. The Adjusted Net Efficiency (ANE) analysis for this match up indicates a game played at a pace of 74 possessions for the Cats and 72 possessions for the Vikings, with the Cats winning by 35 points, 90-55 with game efficiencies of 1.216 ppp and 0.764 ppp. Pomeroy sees this game with UK having a 27-point advantage, 85-58 played at a pace of 70 possessions.

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Game Summary:

Isaiah Briscoe will not be able to play due to a back injury that he sustained in the last game. Therefore, Coach Calipari put Dominique Hawkins into the starting lineup. In addition, Coach Calipari has moved Derek Willis back into a starting role. The starting lineup today is Edrice (BAM) Adebayo, Derek Willis, Malik Monk, De'Aaron Fox, and Dominique Hawkins.

The Cats control the opening tip, and Derek Willis scores on a baseline jump shot. Derek Willis then hits a 3 pointer to score the first 5 points of the game. In the opening 4 minutes, the Vikings commit 5 turnovers, and only make 1 of 3 shots, while the Cats make 6 of 7 shots en route to a 14-2 start. UCS takes a time out with 16:10 remaining in the first half. In the second segment, the Cats continue to score at a very high efficiency, again posting 14 points in 8 possessions. UCS began to use its possessions without so many turnovers and scored 10 points. The Cats lead by 16, 28-12 at the under 12 media timeout.

In the third segment, UCS scores back to back baskets to trim UK's lead to 14 points, 32-18, and Coach Calipari takes a timeout with 9:57 on the clock. After the timeout, the Cats put the clamps on the Vikings' scoring and run off the last 8 points of the segment to lead 40-18 at the under 8 media timeout. In the 4 th segment, the Cats have their 22 point lead trimmed to 17 points, 45-28 due to 4 Cats turnovers in the segment coupled with 1-4 shooting and only 3-6 from the line. The Cats lead by 21 at the half, 56-35.

The Cats scored 56 points on 40 possessions, 1.400 points per possession, and Cleveland State managed their 35 points on 40 possessions, 0.875 ppp. The Cats made 56.8% of their first half shots, including 7-12 (58.3%) from outside the arc. Cleveland State managed to make 48.3% of their first half shots, including 3-30 (30.0%) from outside the arc.

The Cats made 7 of 13 free throws (53.8%) and Cleveland State made 4-6 from the charity line (66.7%).

On the Boards, the Cats won the glass 19-17 overall, and 7-4 on the offensive glass. Kentucky won the second chance points 7-6. The Cats secured a low 35.0% of their misses and allowed Cleveland State to grab 25.0% of their misses as second chance opportunities.

Second Half:

The Vikings opens play in the second half. At the under 16 media timeout, the Cats extend their lead to 30 points, 68-38. In the second segment of the second half, UCS cut into the 30 point lead, trimming it to 25 points, 74-49, at the under 12 media timeout. In the third segment, the Cats finish the segment on a 10-0 run to extend their lead to 37 points, 89-52, at the under 8 media timeout. After the timeout, Brad Calipari enters the game, so Coach Calipari is beginning to empty his bench. At the under 4 media timeout, the Cats lead by 34, 95-61. Cats win 101-70.


UK scored its 101 points in a total of 80 possessions (1.263 ppp) for the game, and Cleveland State scored its 70 points on a total of 81 possessions 0.864 ppp).

Kentucky won the battle of the boards 47-36, and Kentucky won the battle of the offensive glass 16-11. Kentucky used its 16 second chance possessions to score 25 second chance points, and Cleveland State used its 11 second chance possessions to score 13 second chance points. Cleveland State had an offensive efficiency of 0.704 ppp on its 81 first chance possessions and 1.182 ppp for its 11 second chance possessions. UK had 0.950 ppp on its 80 first chance possessions and 1.562 ppp on its 16 second chance possessions. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed 39.0%of its misses as offensive rebounds while Cleveland State was able to convert 26.2% of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.

UK hit poorly from the free throw line in this game, making 16-26 [61.5%]. Cleveland State made 14-19 [73.7%] for the game. Field goal shooting for UK was 38-73 overall [52.1%] and 9-24 from long range [37.5%]. For Cleveland State, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was 19-37 [51.4%] and from long range, Cleveland State hit 6-27 [22.2%].

The Cats committed 13 turnovers, one for every 6.2 possessions. The Cats forced 19 Cleveland State turnovers, one for every 4.3 possessions.

ext Game On Schedule: Friday evening in Rupp Arena where the Cats will take on Tennessee Martin in the sixth regular season game of the 2016-17 season.

Submitted by Richard Cheeks

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