2016-17 Season Analytical Writings

Cats Open NCAA Play Against Northern Kentucky

The Kentucky Wildcats enter the NCAA tournament as the #2 seed in the South Region. The Cats enter the Big Dance with a 29-5 record, SEC regular season and tournament champions, and are riding an 11 game winning streak. The Cats' first opponent is Northern Kentucky.

The official records of the UK Basketball program show only one prior meeting between these programs, on November 10, 2013, with the Cats a 36-point winner, 99-63. However, these teams met one previous time when the Norse came to Rupp for one of the Cats' pre-season exhibition opponents on November 3, 2004. In that exhibition game, the Cats came away with an 18-point win, 91-73. Clearly, in 2004, the NKU Norse was not a D1 program, and in 2013, it entered the realm of D1 competition. 2016-17 is the first season that provides NCAA post-season eligibility for the NKU Norse, and they clearly have made the most of the opportunity by playing their way into the 68 team field by winning the Horizon League post season tournament, and winning 12 of their last 14 games including their last 6 games.

NORTHERN KENTUCKY enters this game with a 24-10 record, but as noted above, on January 20, following a 7 point home loss to Oakland, the Norse record stood at only 12-8. The Norse' most impressive win this season was a 4 point home win over #103 Valparaiso, and at the other end of the spectrum, NKU's most embarrassing losses this season have been at #284 Youngstown State by 4 and to #290 Austin Peay by 8 points on a neutral court.

NORTHERN KENTUCKY enters this game with an ANE of -0.016 points per possession against strength of schedule of 0.0385 ppp (#248). The Cats enter this game with an ANE of 0.287 ppp against strength of schedule of 0.0966 ppp (#30). The ANE analysis indicates a Kentucky win by 21 points, 79-58 at apace of 68 possessions. This would produce game efficiencies of 1.163 ppp and 0.854 ppp. Pomeroy sees this game in Kentucky's favor by 19 points 87-68 at a pace of 72 possessions. Vegas opened favoring the Cats by 20 points.

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Game Summary:

Coach Calipari continues with the starters Edrice (BAM) Adebayo, Derek Willis, Malik Monk, Isaiah Briscoe, and De'Aaron Fox.

Kentucky controls the opening tip and De'Aaron Fox wastes no time in making a jump shot from about 10 feet, right of the lane. Northern Kentucky answered with a basket, and after the Cats regained a 2 point lead on a baseline jumper by Malik Monk, Northern Kentucky moved into the lead on a 3 pointer. The Cats then took over the remainder of the opening segment, running out to an early 13-7 lead at the under 16 media timeout. In the second segment, the Cats extend their early lead from 6 to 8 points, and lead 20-12 at the under 12 media timeout.

In the third segment, the Cats moved up by 11, 23-12, on a 3 pointer by Dominique Hawkins, but the Cats did not score again in the segment, and the Norse scored 7 in a row to trim the lead to only 4 points, 23-19 at the under 8 media timeout. After the break, Northern Kentucky trims the lead to 2, 23-21, but the Cats go on a 10-0 run, forcing a Northern Kentucky timeout with 4:09 remaining in the first half and the Cats on top by 12, 33-21. After the timeout, the Cats force a Norse turnover and convert it into a layup to extend the run to 12-0 at the under 4 media timeout, with the Cats on top by 14, 35-21.

Wenyen Gabriel extends the run to 13-0 on a free throw, and after he misses the second, Northern Kentucky ends the UK run with a 3 pointer to trim the lead back to 12, 36-24. The Cats lead by 14 at the half, 38-24.

The Cats scored 38 points on 38 possessions, 1.000 points per possession, and NORTHERN KENTUCKY managed their 24 points on 37 possessions, 0.649 ppp. The Cats made 48.6% (17-35) of their first half shots, including 2-8 (25.0%) from outside the arc. NORTHERN KENTUCKY managed to make 24.3% (9-37) of their first half shots, including 3-17 (17.6%) from outside the arc.

The Cats made 2-5 free throws (40.0%) and NORTHERN KENTUCKY made 3-3 (100.0%) in the first half.

The Cats committed 5 turnovers while forcing NORTHERN KENTUCKY to commit 6.

On the Boards, Kentucky and Northern Kentucky each grabbed 29 rebounds. The Norse won the battle on the offensive glass 7-4, but the Cats were more productive on its second chance opportunities, leading in second chance points 4-0. The Cats secured 20.0% of their misses and allowed NORTHERN KENTUCKY to grab 26.9% of their misses as second chance opportunities.

Second Half:

Kentucky opens the second half with an empty possession, and Northern Kentucky scores first in the half to trim the lead to 12. The Cats score the next 6 points to extend their lead to 18 points before Northern Kentucky makes a 3 pointer and takes a timeout with 16:43 remaining in the game and the score 44-29. At the under 12 media timeout, the Norse are hanging around, down by 13, 52-39. At the under 8 media timeout, the Cats lead by 18, 63-45.

In the 4 th segment, the Norse refuse to go away, and trim the lead to 12, 67-55 at the under 4 media timeout. Cats hang on to a 79-70 win.


UK scored its 79 points on 75 possessions (1.053 ppp) for the game, and NORTHERN KENTUCKY scored its 70 points on 73 possessions (0.946 ppp).

Kentucky won the battle of the boards, 41-36, but Northern Kentucky won on the offensive end 10-9. Kentucky used its 9 second chance possessions to score 5 second chance points, and NORTHERN KENTUCKY used its 10 second chance possessions to score 6 second chance points. NORTHERN KENTUCKY had an offensive efficiency of 0.865 ppp on its 73 first chance possessions and 0.600 ppp for its 10 second chance possessions. UK had 0.987 ppp on its 75 first chance possessions and 0.556 ppp on its 9 second chance possessions. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed 25.7% of its misses as offensive rebounds while NORTHERN KENTUCKY was able to convert 23.8% of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.

UK hit well from the free throw line making 22-28 (78.6%). NORTHERN KENTUCKY made 10-11 [90.9%] for the game. Field goal shooting for UK was 27-61 overall [44.3%] and 3-17 from long range [17.6%]. For NORTHERN KENTUCKY, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was 18-40 [45.0%] and from long range, NORTHERN KENTUCKY hit 8-32 [25.0%].

The Cats committed 11 turnovers, one for every 6.8 possessions. The Cats forced 8 NORTHERN KENTUCKY turnovers, one for every 9.2 possessions.

Next Game On Schedule: Sunday in the second round of the NCAA Tournament against Wichita State.

Submitted by Richard Cheeks

Submitted by Richard Cheeks


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