BIG BLUE FANS FOR
2015-16 Season Analytical Writings
This past Saturday, the Cats became the last undefeated SEC team with a 7-0 start by handing South Carolina its first SEC loss of the season at Rupp Arena. The UK win, coupled with Florida's home court loss to Vanderbilt on Saturday, propelled this Kentucky team into a commanding lead for the 2017 SEC regular season championship. Looking ahead, only two remaining Kentucky opponents have a theoretical margin less than 10 points against these Cats, at Georgia by 9 points, and at Florida by 3 points (Pomeroy).
South Carolina must travel to Florida where they are likely to pick up a second conference loss. However, if South Carolina can run the table through the end of this SEC season, Kentucky must lose twice in conference games because UK owns the tiebreaker over the Gamecocks. Florida now stands two games off the UK pace and will have to defeat USC and Kentucky twice to beat the Cats in the Conference race. Clearly, the Cats have the inside position for the conference championship, and a win over Florida at Rupp will seal the deal.
In the game on Saturday, the Cats handled the Gamecocks by 16 points. The most significant event during this game was De'Aaron Fox leaving the game in the first half with an ankle injury. With Fox on the floor, the Cats had no difficulty with the Gamecock defense and jumped on them early with a 17 point lead, 23-6 after only 8 ½ minutes of play. With 12:43 on the clock, De'Aaron Fox made a layup and crashed into the basket support after being fouled. He rose from the floor with a limp, remained in the game for his free throw, which he missed, before being removed from the game at the next clock stoppage at 12:31. Fox made one more appearance in the game, but his time on the floor was very short, and the trainer escorted him to the locker room. A short time later, we learned that De'Aaron Fox would not return to the game due to an ankle injury, and he reappeared on the bench in street clothes wearing a protective boot on his foot.
With Fox out of the game, the Gamecocks turned the tide and trimmed the UK lead to 3 points, 30-27 with 4:39 remaining in the first half. The Cats stopped the South Carolina comeback with a 3 pointer by Derek Willis and managed to fend off the Gamecocks to the half with a 9 point lead. In the second half, the Cats and Gamecocks played on even terms for the first 10 minutes with the Cats leading by 10 points at the 10:20 mark. However, the superior Cat talent and depth finally took its toll, even without Fox on the floor, allowing the Cats to extend their lead to a game high 23 points with 1:27 remaining, at which time Coach Calipari emptied his bench. The final margin, 16 points, reflects the ineffectiveness of the deep bench reserves, as the Cats allowed South Carolina to score the game's final 7 points during that time.
The Basketball office reports that De'Aaron Fox's status is day to day. On Monday, we learned that he is no longer in the protective boot, but his status for the Tennessee game remains unknown. Without him on Saturday, the Cats were not as efficient on either end of the floor, but it was most noticeable on the defensive end. Dominique Hawkins provided quality minutes at the point, and Derek Willis/Wenyen Gabriel combined at the power forward position with another very strong effort following their strongest tandem game of the year at Mississippi State last Tuesday. The Cats will need all three of them to step up tonight in Knoxville to get out of town with their 8 th SEC win of the year without a loss.
Last year, the Cats walked into Thompson-Bowling as a 7 to 9 point favorite, and after playing about 14 minutes, it appeared that the Cats would have no trouble with the Vols after they build a 21-point lead with 5:40 remaining in the first half. However, the Vols outscored the Cats 23-8 over the last 5:40 of the half and 48-35 in the second half to hand the Cats a 84-77 loss. The Cats on this team who experienced that loss seek redemption tonight.
TENNESSEE enters the game with a 10-9; 3-4 record. The Vols have been a Jeckyl-Hyde type of team in 2016-17. They have inexplicably gone toe to toe with #7 North Carolina in Chapel Hill before falling to the Tar Heels by only 2 while losing at #89 Mississippi by 11 a week ago. Tennessee's most impressive win this season was a 12 point win at #60 Vanderbilt. TENNESSEE enters this game with an ANE of 0.153 points per possession against a strength of schedule of 0.1045 ppp (#3). The Cats enter this game with an ANE of 0.333 ppp against a strength of schedule of 0.0623 ppp (#31). The ANE analysis indicates a Kentucky win by 9 points, 82-73 at apace of 77 possessions. This would produce game efficiencies of 1.068 ppp and 0.951 ppp. Pomeroy sees this game in Kentucky's favor by 11 points, 90-79 at a pace of 76 possessions.
Use the following link to see how other UK fans handicap this game at 247Sports, The Cats Pause message board:
You can participate in the score prediction contest at 247Sports at the following link:
Coach Calipari starts Edrice (BAM) Adebayo, De'Aaron Fox, Malik Monk, Isaiah Briscoe, and Wenyen Gabriel. Mychal Mulder will not be available due to illness for the second consecutive game, but De'Aaron Fox will play tonight despite his ankle injury he sustained in the game on Saturday.
Kentucky controls the opening tip and fail to score on the opening possession. The Cats do get on the board first however, and Tennessee matches the score at 2-2. The Cats then score 6 in a row, but Tennessee ends the opening segment with 5 straight of their own. The Cats lead by 1, 8-7, at the under 16 media timeout with 14:36 remaining. Coach Calipari brings Derek Willis and Dominique Hawkins off the bench during the timeout. In the second segment, the Vols move into the lead, by as many as 4 points, 14-10, on 5 second chance points. A 3 pointer by De'Aaron Fox pulled the Cats to within 1 at the under 12 media timeout.
In the third segment, Tennessee led by 4 points on two occasions, the last time at 20-16. However, the Cats ended the segment with a 9-3 run, ending with Derek Willis being fouled on a put back basket to lift the Cats into the lead, 25-23, at the under 8 media timeout. After the timeout, Derek Willis will have one free throw to complete his 3 point play. He missed the free throw. In the 4 th segment, Tennessee moved back into the lead by 3 on a 3 pointer, and the Cats trimmed the lead to a single point, 31-30, at the under 4 media timeout.
In the final segment, the Cats play from behind, miss all 4 of its shots and commit a turnover while Tennessee makes 3-4 from the line, and 2-4 from the field including a 3 pointer to move on top by 7, 39-32, forcing Coach Calipari to take a timeout with 1 minute remaining in the first half. Cats trail at the half by 5, 39-34. This is only the second time this season the Cats have trailed at the half.
The Cats scored 34 points on 41 possessions, 0.829 points per possession, and TENNESSEE managed their 39 points on 40 possessions, 0.975 ppp. The Cats made 34.4% (11-32) of their first half shots, including 2-13 (15.4%) from outside the arc. TENNESSEE managed to make 41.2% (14-34) of their first half shots, including 4-6 (66.7%) from outside the arc.
The Cats made 10-15 free throws (66.7%) and TENNESSEE made 7-10 (70.0%) in the first half.
The Cats committed 6 turnovers while forcing TENNESSEE to commit 4.
On the Boards, the Vols outrebounded the Cats 24-22 in the first half, but the Cats earned a 4-3 advantage on the offensive rebounds. The Cats used its 4 second chance possessions to score 8 second chance point while TENNESSEE used its 3 second chance possessions to score 5 points. The Cats secured 16.0% of their misses and allowed TENNESSEE to grab 14.3% of their misses as second chance opportunities.
The Vols open the second half with a basket to move back on top by 7. The Cats responded and pulled back to within 5 at 41-36, 43-38, and 45-40, but the Vols scored the last 5 points of the opening segment to extend their lead to 10 points, 50-40, at the under 16 media timeout. The Cats claw back to within 6 points twice, but Tennessee uses a UK turnover between a basket and a 3 pointer to move out by 11, 57-46. UT takes a timeout with 12:08 on the clock with a 9 point lead, 57-48.
The Cats cut the lead to 5 points on a 3 pointer by Malik Monk, and stop the Vols on the next possession with a chance to cut the lead to 3 points, but the Vols move back on top by 7, 64-57, following the Cats' 11 th turnover of the game with 7:15 remaining at the under 8 media timeout. In the 4 th segment, the Cats continue to fight their way back into the game, cutting the lead to 2 points, first at 66-64, and had the ball with a chance to tie, but missed a 3 pointer. Tennessee eased back on top by 4, but Edrice (BAM) Adebayo scored down low to trim the lead back to 2, 68-66 at the under 4 media timeout with 3:24 remaining and Tennessee in possession of the ball.
Tennessee gets the ball in bounds at the basket, and De'Aaron Fox fouls the shooter for his 4 th foul. After converting on 1 of the 2 free throws, the Vols get run out baskets on back to back turnover to move on top by 7 with 2:43 to play. Coach Calipari takes a timeout.
Cats lose 82-80.
UK scored its 80 points on 81 possessions (0.988 ppp) for the game, and TENNESSEE scored its 82 points on 80 possessions (1.025 ppp).
Kentucky won the battle of the boards 40-39, and the Cats won the battle of the offensive glass 8-7. Kentucky used its 8 second chance possessions to score 14 second chance points, and TENNESSEE used its 7 second chance possessions to score 8 second chance points. TENNESSEE had an offensive efficiency of 0.925 ppp on its 80 first chance possessions and 1.143 ppp for its 7 second chance possessions. UK had 0.815 ppp on its 81 first chance possessions and 1.750 ppp on its 8 second chance possessions. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed 20.0% of its misses as offensive rebounds while TENNESSEE was able to convert 17.9% of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.
UK hit well from the free throw line in this game, making 24-31 [77.4%]. TENNESSEE made 17-27 [63.0%] for the game. Field goal shooting for UK was 25-60 overall [41.7%] and 6-24 from long range [25.0%]. For TENNESSEE , their field goal shooting from inside the arc was 25-54 [46.3%] and from long range, TENNESSEE hit 5-10 [50.0%].
The Cats committed 14 turnovers, one for every 5.8 possessions. The Cats forced 10 TENNESSEE turnovers, one for every 8.0 possessions.
Next Game On Schedule: Saturday Evening, January 28, 2017 at 6:00 pm at Rupp Arena against Kansas in the 21 st regular season game of the 2016-17 season.
Submitted by Richard Cheeks
Submitted by Richard Cheeks