2015-16 Season Analytical Writings

After Stumbling In Knoxville, Cats Meet Jayhawks

For teams like Kentucky, Kansas, North Carolina, Duke, Villanova, and a very small group of programs that set sights each year on Championships, Game 20 and Game 21 mark the mid-point of a season. 31 regular season games followed by 3 conference post season tournament games, followed by up to 6 NCAA Tournament post season games. For Kentucky during the Calipari era, Games 20 and 21 have marked the time for the one and done kittens to grow into ferocious Cats.

Coach Calipari knows the time is now. He has initiated his annual recitals of “I need to do a better job;” “It is time for these kids to move beyond the AAU mentality and play with discipline;” and “I like my team” in the aftermath of the Cats' most embarrassing loss of the season this past Tuesday at Tennessee.

The Cats played with very little, if any, discipline, and the Cats lack of discipline resulted in various Cats missing shots that are literally “unmissable.” The Cats played with no discipline on the offensive end, willing to settle for awkward, forced shots rather than work the ball into their post man, Edrice (BAM) Adebayo. The Cats played with no discipline on the defensive end, allowing various Volunteer players to reach the basket without defense, and if they missed, too many easy second chance baskets. The result of this team abandonment of the discipline that Coach Calipari has been teaching and emphasizing was this loss to a good, but certainly not great, 10-9 Tennessee team. In fact, the final 2 point margin was much closer than the reality of the game itself, which saw Tennessee seize control early, and maintain a lead of 7 to 11 points for the vast majority of the game.

It is true that all teams stumble a few times over the course of a season, and strictly by the numbers, the home loss in December to UCLA was a weaker overall performance. However, this loss comes at a critical time of the season, when the team should have become more disciplined, in preparation for the drive toward a championship run. On Saturday, the Cats have an opportunity to demonstrate its readiness for that run when Kansas visits Rupp Arena for the annual SEC-Big12 Challenge, strategically scheduled at the mid-season point.

Last year, the Cats limped out of “Phog” of Allen Fieldhouse in Lawrence, with a disappointing overtime loss to the Jayhawks into the Smokies where the Cats lost to the Vols despite having a 21 point lead late in the first half of that game. These back-to-back losses a year ago signaled and exposed the fatal weaknesses that eventually caused that group of Cats to exit early from the post season. Will history repeat in January 2017 with another critical back-to-back loss to the Vols and the Jayhawks, or will the 2017 Cats return to the Rupp court and show the discipline necessary to beat a legitimate title contender?

The Big Blue Nation will get its answer on Saturday night as the entire basketball world watches. ESPN's College Game Day has rolled into town. Their spot lights are bearing down on the Rupp Court, and a huge television audience will supplement the 23,000+ who will pack into Rupp on Saturday night.

Two of the “blue bloods” of college basketball.

•  Two of the highest ranked teams in the nation on January 26, 2017.

•  A game with national championship ramifications.

•  Teams populated by some of the best players in the college game.

•  Teams led by a pair of bigger than life coaches.

•  Fan bases that are rabid and extensive in their reach.

A marquee game that will be as big as its primetime billing.

KANSAS enters the game with a 18-2 record. The Jayhawks have been rock solid since the season opened in November when it dropped its opener to #38 Indiana by 4 in overtime on a neutral court. The Jayhawks then won their next 18 games including a 2 point win over #16 Duke, a 6 point win at #34 TCU, a 2 point win over #26 Kansas State a 7 point win over #27 Oklahoma State, and a 4 point win at #24 Iowa State. Yes, the Jayhawks fell by 16 points, 69-85, at #3 West Virginia on Tuesday night. The world will be also watching how the Jayhawks respond to their Tuesday loss as much as how the Cats respond their whipping on Tuesday.

KANSAS enters this game with an ANE of 0.274 points per possession against a strength of schedule of 0.0839 ppp (#15). The Cats enter this game with an ANE of 0.325 ppp against a strength of schedule of 0.0691 ppp (#25). The ANE analysis indicates a Kentucky win by 9 points, 83-74 at apace of 77 possessions. This would produce game efficiencies of 1.077 ppp and 0.960 ppp. Pomeroy sees this game in Kentucky's favor by 8 points, 90-82 at a pace of 76 possessions. Vegas has opened favoring the Cats by 5.

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:

Game Summary:

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 fails to score on the opening possession. I missed the first half and listened on the radio in the car. At under 16 media timeout, Cats led 9-8. At under 12 media timeout, Cats 15-10. At the under 8 media timeout, Cats 25-15. At the under 4 media timeout, Cats 29-17. At the half, Cats 32-27.

The Cats scored 32 points on 39 possessions, 0.821 points per possession, and KANSAS managed their 27 points on 38 possessions, 0.711 ppp. The Cats made 40.0% (12-30) of their first half shots, including 3-8 (37.5%) from outside the arc. KANSAS managed to make 40.0% (12-30) of their first half shots, including 0-8 (0%) from outside the arc.

The Cats made 5-11 free throws (45.5%) and KANSAS made 3-6 (50.0%) in the first half.

The Cats committed 10 turnovers while forcing KANSAS to commit 8.

On the Boards, the Jayhawks outrebounded the Cats 24-21 in the first half, but the Cats earned a 6-3 advantage on the offensive rebounds. The Cats secured 25.0.0% of their misses and allowed KANSAS to grab 14.3% of their misses as second chance opportunities.

Second Half:

The Jayhawks open the second half with their first two 3 pointer of the game to reduce the Cats' one time 12 point lead to a 1 point Kansas lead. The Cats retake the lead on Derek Willis' third 3 pointer of the game. At the under 16 media timeout, with 14:27 remaining, the Cats lead by 3, 47-44, and have the ball. In the opening segment, the Jayhawks made 7 of 11 shots including 3-4 from long range. The Cats made 6-9 including 3-5 from long range. Neither team committed a turnover, and KU got 2 offensive rebounds and 2 second chance points to 1 offensive rebound for the Cats and no second chance points.

The Cats open the second segment with a turnover, and Lucas makes a 3 point play to tie the score at 47-47 with 13:20 remaining. The Jayhawks move out by 5, 54-49, and lead by 4, 58-54 at the under 12 media timeout with only 9:28 remaining in the game. In addition, KU will have a free throw to complete a 3 point play after the timeout to move back on top by 5 points. After missing the free throw, Kentucky's Isaiah Briscoe made 1 of 2 from the line to trim the lead to 3, Dominique Hawkins got a put back basket at the rim to trim the lead to 1, and De'Aaron Fox made a layup to lift the Cats back into the lead by 1 point, 59-58 at the under 8 media timeout with 7:26 remaining and KU in possession of the ball.

Out of the timeout, KU moves back on top with a put back basket and a 3 pointer to lead by 4, 63-59 and Coach Calipari takes a quick timeout with 6:20 left in the game. After the timeout, the Malik Monk takes two poor shots and the Cats turn it over twice, and KU makes the Cats pay to move on top by 10, 69-59, forcing Coach Calipari to take another timeout with 4:33 remaining.

The Cats trim the lead to 8 at the under 4 media timeout with 3:56 remaining and KU in possession of the ball. Kentucky has 1 timeout remaining, and KU has 3 left. Neither team is in the bonus yet, and Kentucky has the possession arrow. Kansas uses the full 35 seconds on the shot clock before missing a very long 3 point attempt. Malik Monk makes a 3 pointer at the other end to trim the KU lead to 5, 69-64. KU takes a timeout with 3:03 left, and 20 on the shot clock. Cats lose 79-73. Back to back losses to Kansas and Tennessee for the second year in a row and the second loss at Rupp this season.


UK scored its 73 points on 83 possessions (0.880 ppp) for the game, and KANSAS scored its 79 points on 85 possessions (0.929 ppp).

Kansas won the battle of the boards 35-34, but the Cats won the battle of the offensive glass 10-9. Kentucky used its 10 second chance possessions to score 7 second chance points, and KANSAS used its 9 second chance possessions to score 17 second chance points. KANSAS had an offensive efficiency of 0.827 ppp on its 85 first chance possessions and 1.889 ppp for its 9 second chance possessions. UK had 0.917 ppp on its 83 first chance possessions and 0.700 ppp on its 10 second chance possessions. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed 27.8% of its misses as offensive rebounds while KANSAS was able to convert 27.3% of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.

UK hit poorly from the free throw line in this game, making 13-22 [59.1%]. KANSAS made 10-18 [55.6%] for the game. Field goal shooting for UK was 26-55 overall [47.3%] and 8-20 from long range [40.0%]. For KANSAS , their field goal shooting from inside the arc was 27-45 [60.0%] and from long range, KANSAS hit 5-19 [26.3%].

The Cats committed 17 turnovers, one for every 4.2 possessions. The Cats forced 12 KANSAS turnovers, one for every 6.2 possessions.

Next Game On Schedule: Tuesday Evening, January 31, 2017 at 9:00 pm at Rupp Arena against Georgia in the 22 nd regular season game and 9 th SEC of the 2016-17 season.

Submitted by Richard Cheeks


Submitted by Richard Cheeks


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