BIG BLUE FANS FOR
2016-17 Season Analytical Writings
Before the Cats packed for their trip to the O Center this weekend, most people understood that the Cats' game has been slipping while the Gators have been raising the level of their play in recent weeks. Most observers believed that the Cats would probably lose in Gainesville, perhaps by 1 to 3 points, but I don't know anyone, except one member of the Big Blue Nation who confided in me on Friday evening that he feared a huge beat down at Florida, perhaps by as much as 20 points. Well, dear friends, the final margin was 22 points, and not in favor of the Cats.
At the end of the game, the TV camera caught some members of the UK team in a moment of frivolity, laughing it up, while the clock ticked toward 0:00 to bring this beat down to a merciful end. The Gators out rebounded the Cats by 25, 54-29, including a 17-6 pounding on the offensive glass. This rebounding debacle coupled with the poorest shooting game of the year, 23-61 (37.7%) from the field and 14-23 (60.9%) from the line does not spell R-E-L-I-E-F. It spells P-A-I-N. Yes, I have heard the later explanation that the “frivolity” on the bench was triggered by the Gator student section singing happy birthday to Malik Monk. However, even that explanation is not comforting because I seriously doubt that the students would choose such a gesture if the game was really a 1 to 3 point game, much less a 20+ point UK beatdown of the Gators. No, they offered up the verse of happy birthday as a final gesture of humiliation handed to Mr. Monk and his teammates on his birthday.
This UK team has transformed itself over the course of 4 weeks from a team playing as well as any team in the country and beating SEC opponents by 20+ points per game to having lost 3 of their last 4 games, including this humiliation in Gainesville. Leaves me to wonder what has changed. Does Coach Calipari know the answer to this question, and does he have a correction that he can quickly put into place before this team must hit the road again next Saturday and travel to face Alabama, another SEC team on the rise, that smells Cat blood in the water. Coach Calipari will have a few days of practice and a game against LSU at Rupp on Tuesday night to implement the correction, if a correction is possible.
LSU enters the game with a 9-13; 1-9 record. The Tigers have lost 11 of their 12 games since beating #84 College of Charleston by 10 at home on December 19, 2016. The Tigers did go on the road and get an SEC win at #188 Missouri, but the losses continue to pile up for this group of Tigers. LSU lost to #7 Florida at home by 35 points, and the closest the Tigers have come to another SEC win was a 4 point loss at Auburn, 78-74. Other than Auburn, LSU has lost by double digits in every game. LSU's most impressive win this season has been over #43 Houston by 19 points in Baton Rouge. LSU enters this game with an ANE of -0.012 points per possession against a strength of schedule of 0.0730 ppp (#31). The Cats enter this game with an ANE of 0.303 ppp against a strength of schedule of 0.0909 ppp (#21). The ANE analysis indicates a Kentucky win by 31 points, 94-63 at apace of 79 possessions. This would produce game efficiencies of 1.190 ppp and 0.798 ppp. Pomeroy sees this game in Kentucky's favor by 26 points101-75 at a pace of 78 possessions.
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Mychal Mulder and De'Aaron Fox both returned to action at Florida, and Tai Wynyard played despite pre-game reports that he would not be available. Sacha Killeya-Jones is in uniform tonight, so it appears that the illness running through the Wildcat Lodge has run its course. Coach Calipari will start Edrice (BAM) Adebayo, Wenyen Gabriel, De'Aaron Fox, Malik Monk, and Isaiah Briscoe.
Kentucky controls the opening tip and De'Aaron Fox hits a 3 pointer. After the Tigers score to trim the lead to 1 point, the Cats score the next 6 to move up by 7, 9-2. LSU closed the scoring in the opening segment with a runout layup and a foul. The Cats lead 9-4 at the under 16 media timeout, and LSU will have a free throw after the break to complete the 3 point play. LSU misses the free throw, and the Cats get a second chance basket from Wenyen Gabriel, and then a 3 pointer by Wenyen Gabriel extends to lead to 10 points, 14-4, forcing a LSU timeout with 14:30 remaining in the first half. After the timeout, LSU turns it over for the fifth time, and Wenyen Gabriel gets fouled going to the basket, and after making them both, Wenyen Gabriel has 11 points. At the under 12 media timeout, the Cats lead by 9, 18-9.
In the third segment, LSU hangs around, matching the Cats and trimming the score to 26-19, a 7 point Kentucky lead at the under 8 media timeout with only 6:38 remaining in the first half. At the under 4 media timeout, the Cats lead by 12, 39-27, and the Cats take a 16 point lead, 43-27 to the locker room.
The Cats scored 43 points on 35 possessions, 1.229 points per possession, and LSU managed their 27 points on 35 possessions, 0.771 ppp. The Cats made 42.9% (15-35) of their first half shots, including 5-16 (31.3%) from outside the arc. LSU managed to make 37.5% (12-32) of their first half shots, including 2-12 (16.7%) from outside the arc.
The Cats made 8-9 free throws (88.9%) and LSU made 1.2 (50.0%) in the first half.
The Cats committed 4 turnovers while forcing LSU to commit 8.
On the Boards, the Cats outrebounded the Tigers 24-15 in the first half, and the Cats earned a 8-5 advantage on the offensive rebounds, earning a 10-5 advantage on second chance points. The Cats secured 44.4% of their misses and allowed LSU to grab 23.80% of their misses as second chance opportunities.
The Tigers open the second half with a turnover, and the Cats score the first 5 points of the second half to move on top by 21, 48-27. However, LSU scored the next 9 points to trim the lead to 12, 48-36 at the under 16 media timeout, and the Tigers will have a free throw to complete a 3 point play after the break. In the second segment, the teams trade baskets until Isaiah Briscoe makes back to back 3 point plays to lift the Cats to a 15 point lead, 62-47, at the under 12 media timeout. After the Break, Isaiah Briscoe will have the free throw to complete the his second 3 point play. At the under 4 media timeout, the Cats cling to a 16 point lead, 84-68.
Cats win 92-85.
UK scored its 92 points on 74 possessions (1.243 ppp) for the game, and LSU scored its 85 points on 75 possessions (1.133 ppp).
Kentucky won the battle of the boards 40-26, and the Cats won the battle of the offensive glass 14-8. Kentucky used its 14 second chance possessions to score 12 second chance points, and LSU used its 8 second chance possessions to score 11 second chance points. LSU had an offensive efficiency of 0.987ppp on its 75 first chance possessions and 1.375 ppp for its 8 second chance possessions. UK had 1.081 ppp on its 74 first chance possessions and 0.857 ppp on its 14 second chance possessions. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed 43.8% of its misses as offensive rebounds while LSU was able to convert 23.5% of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.
UK hit well from the free throw line in this game, making 21-26 [80.8%]. LSU made 11-15 [73.3%] for the game. Field goal shooting for UK was 31-63 overall [49.2%] and 9-25 from long range [36.0%]. For LSU , their field goal shooting from inside the arc was 22-41 [53.7%] and from long range, LSU hit 10-23 [43.5%].
The Cats committed 14 turnovers, one for every 5.3 possessions. The Cats forced 14 LSU turnovers, one for every 5.4 possessions.
Next Game On Schedule: Saturday afternoon, February 11, 2017 at 1:00 pm at Tuscaloosa against Alabama in the 25 th regular season game and 12 th SEC of the 2016-17 season.
Submitted by Richard Cheeks
Submitted by Richard Cheeks