BIG BLUE FANS FOR
2016-17 Season Analytical Writings
The regular season is nearly over, with one home game for Senior Night against Vanderbilt on Tuesday and a trip to Texas A&M on Saturday for their senior day celebration. The Big Blue Nation will say “thank you” to three seniors who have left their marks on the Wildcat basketball program. Two of the three are Kentucky boys, Dominique Hawkins and Derek Willis, and the third, Mychal Mulder, is a JUCO transfer who is completing his second season as a Cat.
Senior night (day) games are important for the fans, and the players. Coach Calipari has won all seven of his senior night games. Gillispie was 1-1 in this game, and Tubby Smith earned a 9-1 record on his teams' senior night games. Overall, UK has won 81 of its 86 senior day games since Adolph Rupp arrived in Lexington for the 1930 season. This is how the history has gone for this program through the many decades of basketball.
On Saturday, the Cats handled their rematch against Florida, avenged the loss the Cats sustained on their trip to Gainesville, and all but secured another SEC Championship, including the #1 seed for the upcoming SEC Tournament. A win on Tuesday on Senior Night will secure both on an official basis. Tuesday's opponent is Vanderbilt, in a rematch of the Cats' win in Nashville over the Commodores by 6 points, 87-81, on January 10. Since their first meeting, the Cats have won 10 of their 13 games, including wins in their last 6 outings. The Commodores have won 8 of their 13 games since the first meeting with the Cats, and Vanderbilt has won 7 of their last 9 and are on a 4 game winning streak.
VANDERBILT enters this game with a 16-13; 9-7 record, and many of the NCAA Seeding gurus have Vanderbilt on the bubble. A win over the Cats on Tuesday may be sufficient to put the Commodores into the big dance. Vanderbilt has claimed victories over #28 South Carolina by 9, at #55 Tennessee by 11, and at #41 Arkansas by 13. However, the Commodores have stumbled as well, losing at #155 Missouri by 20, and to #80 Bucknell by 3.
VANDERBILT enters this game with an ANE of 0.149 points per possession against strength of schedule of 0.1012 ppp (#21). The Cats enter this game with an ANE of 0.295 ppp against strength of schedule of 0.0949 ppp (#27). The ANE analysis indicates a Kentucky win by 18 points, 82-64, at apace of 71 possessions. This would produce game efficiencies of 1.158 ppp and 0.904 ppp. Pomeroy sees this game in Kentucky's favor by 13 points 83-70 at a pace of 71 possessions.
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It's Senior Night and Coach Calipari stays with the tradition, starting Seniors Mychal Mulder, Derek Willis, and Dominique Hawkins in their final UK Career appearance in Rupp Arena. Freshman Edrice (BAM) Adebayo and Sophomore Isaiah Briscoe will join the seniors at center court to start this game. De'Aaron Fox should be available for action tonight, coming off his recent injury.
Vandy controls the opening tip and scores onits first possession. The Cats miss their first 3 shots and commit a turnover as Vanderbilt moved out to a 7-0 lead. Isaiah Briscoe is fouled, but missed his first attempt, and made his second, to get the Cats on the Board with 17:25 remaining. Vandy holds to a 9-4 lead at the under 16 media timeout with 14:45 remaining in the first half. The Cats will have the ball. In the opening segment, the Cats only made 1 of 6 shots and committed 3 turnovers while Vandy hit 4 of 9 shots with 1 turnover. In the second segment, each team managed only 2 points on their 5 possessions, and Vandy continues to hold to their 5 point lead, 11-6, at the under 12 media timeout with 11:49 remaining. The Cats again have the ball to start the next segment.
In the third segment, the Cats' shooting woes continue while Vandy scores on an uncontested layup and their second 3 pointer to move on top by 10, 16-6. Coach Calipari takes a timeout with 10:08 left. The timeout does not solve issues at either end of the court and Vandy drains three more 3 pointers to move on top by 19, 25-6. Mychal Mulder hits a 3 pointer to stop the Vandy run, and take the game to the under 8 media timeout, with Vandy on top 25-9.
The Cats were down by 19 points. The largest deficit overcome by a Coach Calipari UK team to get a win occurred in Coach Calipari's first game at UK against Miami of Ohio, won on a last second shot by John Wall. After the timeout, the Cats go to Edrice (BAM) Adebayo for a dunk, and Mychal Mulder makes a driving dunk on the baseline to cut the lead to 12, 25-13. Vandy takes a timeout with 5:42 remaining. The Cats continue to claw back into the game, trimming the Vandy lead back into single digits, 9 points, 28-19, at the under 4 media timeout with 2:46 remaining in the half, and Vandy in possession.
In the final segment, the Cats cut the lead to 4, 28-24. Vandy closes the half with a basket and take a 6 point lead to the locker room, 30-24.
The Cats scored 24 points on 35 possessions, 0.686 points per possession, and VANDERBILT managed their 30 points on 36 possessions, 0.833 ppp. The Cats made 31.0% (9-29) of their first half shots, including 2-10 (20.0%) from outside the arc. VANDERBILT managed to make 41.4% (12-29) of their first half shots, including 6-16 (37.5%) from outside the arc.
The Cats made 4-7 free throws (57.1%) and VANDERBILT made 0-2 (0.0%) in the first half.
The Cats committed 9 turnovers while forcing VANDERBILT to commit 8.
On the Boards, Kentucky won the battle of the boards, 22-17 in the first half, and the Cats earned a 6-2 advantage on the offensive rebounds, but each team scored 2 second chance points. The Cats secured 28.6% of their misses and allowed VANDERBILT to grab 11.1% of their misses as second chance opportunities.
VANDERBILT opens the second half with a turnover that results in a 3-point play by Malik Monk to cut the halftime lead in half. However, Vandy opens the second half with a near perfect segment, hitting 5 of their 6 shots, and getting an offensive rebound of their only miss. Vandy also made 2 for 2 from the line, to extend their lead back to double digits, 10 points, 43-33, at the under 16 media timeout with 15:18 remaining in the game. Coach Calipari draws a technical foul, so Vanderbilt starts the second segment with a pair of free throws, to extend the lead to 12.
Vandy goes up by 13, 47-34, but the Cats score the last 4 points of the segment and get a defensive stop prior to the under 12 media timeout, trailing by 9, 47-38, and the Cats have possession. The Cats go on a run of 14-7 to trim the lead to 2 points, 54-52. Vandy takes a timeout with 7:30 remaining in the game. Vandy turns the ball over again, and Malik Monk makes a pair of free throws to tie the game, 54-54. After Vandy and Kentucky exchange a pair of trips to the free throw line, with the Cats making 4-4 and Vandy making 3-4, Vandy moved back into a 1 point lead. Derek Willis hit a 3 pointer from the top of the key to give the Cats their first lead, 59-57. Vandy answers with a 3 pointer, and Malik Monk responds with another 3 pointer to give the Cats a 2 point lead at the under 4 media timeout, 62-60, and Vandy will have a pair of free throws after the break.
Vandy ties the game with both free throws, 62-62. The Cats get a basket from De'Aaron Fox from the free throw line, a second chance basket by Isaiah Briscoe, and a 3 pointer by Malik Monk to go onto by 7, 69-62. Vandy burns their last timeout with 0:47 left on the clock. The Cats foul, and even though Kornet missed the second free throw, he was granted a redo because De'Aaron Fox committed a lane violation, and Kornet trimmed the lead to 5. Derek Willis missed a pair of free throws, and Vandy made a 3 pointer to cut the lead to 2 points, 69-67.
Malik Monk is fouled with 21.1 left. Cats win by 6, 73-67.
UK scored its 73 points on 68 possessions (1.074 ppp) for the game, and VANDERBILT scored its 67 points on 70 possessions (0.957 ppp).
Kentucky won the battle of the boards 33-28, and the Cats won the battle of the offensive glass 8-4. Kentucky used its 8 second chance possessions to score 6 second chance points, and VANDERBILT used its 4 second chance possessions to score 5 second chance points. VANDERBILT had an offensive efficiency of 0.886 ppp on its 70 first chance possessions and 1.250 ppp for its 4 second chance possessions. UK had 0.985 ppp on its 68 first chance possessions and 0.750 ppp on its 8 second chance possessions. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed 25.0% of its misses as offensive rebounds while VANDERBILT was able to convert 13.8% of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.
UK hit well from the free throw line in this game, making 20-26 [76.9%]. VANDERBILT made 12-16 [75.0%] for the game. Field goal shooting for UK was 24-55 overall [43.6%] and 5-17 from long range [29.4%]. For VANDERBILT, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was 11-21 [52.4%] and from long range, VANDERBILT hit 11-28 [39.3%].
The Cats committed 11 turnovers, one for every 6.2 possessions. The Cats forced 18 VANDERBILT turnovers, one for every 3.9 possessions.
Next Game On Schedule: Saturday afternoon, March 4, 2017 at 12:00 pm at College Station in the 31 st and final regular season game and 18 th SEC of the 2016-17 season.
Submitted by Richard Cheeks
Submitted by Richard Cheeks