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2016-17 Season Analytical Writings
The 2016-17 Kentucky Wildcats tasted defeat for the first time, falling to UCLA by 5 points, 97-92, at Rupp Arena on Saturday afternoon. The Big Blue Nation's reaction to this defeat has varied from calm perspective to panic about the future for this team. On the panic end of the scale, some fans have said that they saw it coming all along because all of the early season success was nothing but fool's gold, and UCLA is the first “real” team on the schedule, and UCLA exposed the folly of UK's high rankings. On the calm perspective scale, some fans point out that all teams have their ups and their downs over the course of a long season, and this is nothing more than one of those infrequent downs.
Both camps urge that the team has important lessons to learn from the defeat, and Coach Calipari seems to agree with this consensus based on his post game remarks. The issue is what lessons should this team take with them from this defeat, and will those lessons change the team's approach to the remainder of the season and how this team prepares for and performs in upcoming games.
The team will appear on the big stage, under the bright lights on Wednesday evening when the Valparaiso Crusaders come into Rupp Arena. Valparaiso has a quality men's basketball program. In 2015, the Crusaders finished 28-6 overall and lost to Maryland in the NCAA Tournament. Last year the Crusaders finished 30-7, and runner-up in the post season NIT, losing in the NIT championship game to George Washington. Valparaiso comes into Rupp Arena on Wednesday with a 7-1 record (6-1 against D1 opponents). The Crusaders' most impressive wins of this young season have been on neutral courts over #79 Alabama by 8 points and #59 BYU by 3, and against #41 Rhode Island by 3 points at home. Valparaiso sustained its only loss at #21 Oregon by 12 points.
VALPARAISO enters this game with an ANE of 0.065 points per possession against a strength of schedule of 0.0084 ppp. The Cats enter this game with an ANE of 0.317 ppp against a strength of schedule of - -0.0127 ppp. The ANE analysis indicates a UK win by 22 points, 81-59 at a pace of 75 possessions. This would produce game efficiencies of 1.080 ppp and 0.787 ppp. Pomeroy sees this game in UK's favor by 19 points, 86-67 at a pace of 75 possessions.
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In response to the first loss of the season, Coach Calipari may begin to tighten up on his playing rotation, possibly reducing it to 7 players. Against UCLA, Coach Calipari's rotation was limited to eight players, as Sacha Killeya-Jones and Mychal Mulder did not get off the bench. Coach Calipari's starting lineup against Valparaiso is: Edrice (BAM) Adebayo, Malik Monk, De'Aaron Fox, Isaiah Briscoe, and Wenyen Gabriel.
The Cats control the opening tip and Malik Monk hits a 15 foot jump shot to start the scoring. Over the course of the opening segment, the Cats only score 6 points on 11 possessions due to 6 turnovers. The Cats do lead 6-4 at the under 16 media timeout. In the second segment, the Cats stop their turnover parade and make 4 of their 6 shots, while holding Valpo scoreless, forcing a Valpo timeout with 12:36 left and the Cats up 15-4. At the under 12 media timeout, the Cats lead 17-4 and De'Aaron Fox will have a free throw to complete a 3 point play.
In the first 9 minutes, the Cats have made 7 of 13 shots while Valpo has only made 2 of 16 shots. Valpa finally stops the UK run at 25-4 with a 3 point play to trim the lead to 18 points. Mychal Mulder enters the game with 8:07 remaining. At the under 8 media timeout, the Cats hold to a 20 point lead, 29-9, and Edrice (BAM) Adebayo will have a pair of free throws after the break. Cats lead 45-24 at the half.
The Cats scored 45 points on 43 possessions, 1.047 points per possession, and VALPARAISO managed their 24 points on 42 possessions, 0.571 ppp. The Cats made 48.6% (18-37) of their first half shots, including 2-9 (22.2%) from outside the arc. VALPARAISO managed to make 27.6% (8-29) of their first half shots, including 2-7 (28.6%) from outside the arc.
The Cats made 7-10 free throws (70.0%) and VALPARAISO made 6-12 (50.0%) in the first half.
The Cats committed 11 turnovers while forcing VALPARAISO to commit 13.
On the Boards, the Cats won the glass 26-19 overall, and the Cats won on the offensive glass 9-6. The Cats secured 40.9% of their misses and allowed VALPARAISO to grab 26.1% of their misses as second chance opportunities.
The Cats open the second half with more poor shooting just as they started the game. However, once they found their shooting eye, the Cats extend their 21 point halftime lead to 29 points at the under 12 media timeout, 66-37. At the under 8 media timeout, the Cats' lead stands at 30, 73-43, and Edrice (BAM) Adebayo will have a pair of free throws after the break. At the under 4 media timeout, the Cats lead by 26, 81-55, and Isaiah Briscoe will have a pair of free throws after the break.
It's Calipari time with 3:06 remaining, the Cats leading 82-57 on 76 possessions. Cats win 87-63, 24 points on 80 possessions.
UK scored its 87 points in a total of 78 possessions (1.115 ppp) for the game, and VALPARAISO scored its 63 points on a total of 77 possessions (0.818 ppp).
Kentucky won the battle of the boards 48-41, and Kentucky won the battle of the offensive glass 21-18. Kentucky used its 21 second chance possessions to score 20 second chance points, and VALPARAISO used its 18 second chance possessions to score 19 second chance points. VALPARAISO had an offensive efficiency of 0.571 ppp on its 77 first chance possessions and 1.056 ppp for its 19 econd chance possessions. UK had 0.859 ppp on its 78 first chance possessions and 0.952 ppp on its 21 second chance possessions. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed 47.7% of its misses as offensive rebounds while VALPARAISO was able to convert 40.0% of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.
UK hit poorly from the free throw line in this game, making 14-23 [60.9%]. VALPARAISO made 13-19 [68.4%] for the game. Field goal shooting for UK was 33-72 overall [45.8%] and 7-23 from long range [30.4%]. For VALPARAISO, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was 19-52 [36.5%] and from long range, VALPARAISO hit 4-15 [26.7%].
The Cats committed 17 turnovers, one for every 4.6 possessions. The Cats forced 19 VALPARAISO turnovers, one for every 4.1 possessions.
Next Game On Schedule: Sunday afternoon at Brooklyn, New York against Hofstra in the tenth regular season game of the 2016-17 season.
Submitted by Richard Cheeks