BIG BLUE FANS FOR
2016-17 Season Analytical Writings
One testament to the quality of the Kentucky non-conference basketball schedule, year in and year out, is the number of times the Cats seem to meet a prior regular season opponent in the NCAA tournament, especially in the Sweet 16 and beyond. Since Coach Calipari has been on the Kentucky sidelines, his Cats have played a total of 16 NCAA Tournament games in the Sweet 16 or beyond. Of those 16 NCAA games, 6 of the opponents have been programs that the Cats played during that same regular season. It will occur again on Friday night for the seventh time in 17 such games, and should the Cats advance to Sunday's Elite 8 game, it is very likely that it will play North Carolina for the second time this season, the 8 th such NCAA Tournament rematch in 18 such NCAA games.
Some may argue that this is a testament to the scheming NCAA committee to place as many road blocks in the Cats' path to championships. However, I believe this is a testament to the high quality of Kentucky's non-conference schedule.
This of course begs the question, how have Calipari's Cats fared in these NCAA Tournament rematches? The answer is, “Quite Well.”
Calipari's Cats have played in five Sweet 16 games, and Coach Calipari is 5-0 in those games. In two of these five games at the Sweet 16, the Cats have encountered a regular season opponent twice. In 2012, the Cats faced IU and avenged the regular season loss to the Hoosiers in Bloomington. In 2014, the Cats faced Louisville and maintained their dominance over the Cards.. Despite going 1-1 in the respective regular season games against these opponents, Calipari's Cats are 2-0 in the NCAA Sweet 16 in these rematch encounters, avenging the early season loss at Indiana,
Calipari's Cats have played in five Elite 8 games, and Coach Calipari is 4-1 in those games. At the Elite 8 level, it has happened one time, in 2011, when the Cats faced UNC for the second time. UNC beat the Cats at Chapel Hill by 2 points, and Calipari's Cats avenged that loss in the NCAA Elite 8.
Calipari's Cats have played in four Final Four games, and Coach Calipari is 2-2 in those games. At the Final Four level, these rematch games have occurred one time, in 2011, when the Cats faced UConn. In the regular season, UK man-handled the Cats in Hawaii and handed them a 17 point loss. While losing to the Huskies for the second time, the Cats managed to trim the final margin from 17 points to only 1 point.
Calipari's Cats have played in two Championship games, and Coach Calipari is 1-1 in those games. At the Championship game level, the Cats faced a regular season opponent once, Kansas in 2012. The Cats beat Kansas in both encounters.
The Cats have faced a regular season opponent in the NCAA Sweet 16 or beyond six times. In the regular season, the Cats has a 3-3 record against these teams during the respective regular seasons, and earned a record of 5-1 against those teams in the rematch opportunities. Two of the three regular season losses had occurred on the opponents' home courts and one at a neutral location. Friday's matchup with UCLA will be the first such NCAA rematch for which an opponent defeated the Cats at Rupp Arena during the regular season. UCLA came into Rupp Arena on December 3, 2016, and handed the Cats a 5-point home loss, 97-92.
The Cats maintained a lead early in the game, and led by 9 points with 10:00 remaining in the first half. At that time, UCLA took control of the game at the midpoint of the first half, and never trailed again, once they secured the lead near the end of the first half. The Bruins expanded their 4 point halftime lead in the first 3 minutes of the second half. While the Cats made two separate runs in the second half, the first one stalled after the Cats pulled to within 6 points, and the second failed at the end of the game after the Cats closed the gap to only 3 points with 10 seconds remaining.
Given an average home court advantage of 6 points, the 5 point loss to UCLA at Rupp suggests UCLA may have been about 11 points superior to the Cats in that December encounter. However, Kentucky and UCLA are not the same teams that faced off at Rupp over 3 months ago. Arguably, both teams are much improved, and both teams are playing their best basketball at present.
UCLA enters this game with an ANE of 0.243 points per possession against strength of schedule of 0.045 ppp (#77). The Cats enter this game with an ANE of 0.285 ppp against strength of schedule of 0.1003 ppp (#27). The ANE analysis indicates a Kentucky win by 3 points, 80-77 at apace of 77 possessions. This would produce game efficiencies of 1.036 ppp and 0.997 ppp. Pomeroy sees this game in Kentucky's favor by 2 points 88-86 at a pace of 77 possessions. Vegas opened at “pick ‘em” and some of the lines have moved to UCLA favored by 1 point.
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 continues with the starters Edrice (BAM) Adebayo, Derek Willis, Malik Monk, Isaiah Briscoe, and De'Aaron Fox.
UCLA controls the opening tip and Derek Willis commits a foul after only 9 seconds. The Cats steal the Bruins' inbound pass, and De'Aaron Fox scores first. UCLA makes back to back 3 pointers to move on top by 4. The Cats catch up on a pair of baskets by De'Aaron Fox, but UCLA score 5 in a row to move on top 11-6. De'Aaron Fox scored his 8 th point to pull the Cats back to within 3 points at the under 16 media timeout. The pace of this game early is anything but the grind that I believe would favor the Cats. Each team has 2 offensive rebounds, but UCLA leads on second chance points 2-0. UCLA has 3 turnovers early to 2 by the Cats.
In the second segment, Dominique Hawkins and Derek Willis hit back to back 3 pointers to lift the Cats into their first lead, 14-11, and after UCLA moved back on top by a point, Dominique Hawkins hit his second 3 pointer to put the Cats back on top by 2 points, 17-15, at the under 12 media timeout. UCLA will have a pair of free throws after the break following Derek Willis's second foul of the game. The pace through the first 9 minutes continues in the upper 70s to low 80s range. In the third segment, with Derek Willis on the bench, Isaac Humphries enters the game. UCLA outscores the Cats 5-2 in the segment, to move back into a 1 point lead, 20-19, at the under 8 media timeout. In the fourth segment, the teams traded baskets and 1 point leads to the under 4 media timeout with UCLA maintaining their 1 point lead, 26-25. In the final segment, the Cats moved into the lead by 4 points on Malik Monk's first 3 pointer of the night, and take a 3 point lead to the locker room at the half, 36-33.
The Cats scored 36 points on 31 possessions, 1.161 points per possession, and UCLA managed their 33 points on 31 possessions, 1.065 ppp. The Cats made 46.9% (15-32) of their first half shots, including 5-12 (41.7%) from outside the arc. UCLA managed to make 42.9% (12-28) of their first half shots, including 3-9 (33.3%) from outside the arc.
The Cats made 1-2 free throws (50.0%) and UCLA made 6-9 (66.7%) in the first half.
The Cats committed 5 turnovers while forcing UCLA to commit 6.
On the Boards, Kentucky and UCLA each grabbed 16 rebounds, and each grabbed 7 offensive boards. The Cats hold a 7-6 advantage on second chance points. The Cats secured 43.8% of their misses and allowed UCLA to grab 43.8% of their misses as second chance opportunities.
Kentucky opens the second half with a basket by De'Aaron Fox, and then Malik Monk begins to light it up, with 9 points of his own in the opening segment. The Cats briefly move on top by 6, but UCLA answered quickly with a 3 pointer of their own. The Cats lead 50-46 at the under 16 media timeout, with 15:16 remaining in the game, and the Cats in possession. In that opening segment, UCLA made 6-7 shots with 1 turnover, and UK made 6-9 shots with one offensive board and 3 second chance points. In the second segment, UCLA continues their hot shooting, 2-3 with 2 turnovers. The Cats cool off somewhat and make 3-6 shots and one free throw to go with a single turnover, as the Cats move out by 6, 57-51, at the under 12 media timeout with 11:49 remaining. UCLA will have the ball after the media timeout.
In the third segment, despite continued hot shooting by UCLA, 3-5 in the segment, and 11-15 this half, the Cats extended their lead to 9 points, 60-51 on a 3 pointer by Malik Monk. After the Bruins trimmed the lead back to 5, Dominique Hawkins hit a 3 pointer to give the Cats an 8 points lead, 66-58, at the under 8 media timeout, with 6:58 remaining in the game. After the timeout, the Cats get 3 second chance points on 3 for 4 from the line to extend their lead to 11 points, 69-58. UCLA takes a timeout with 5:54 remaining in the game. The Cats complete an 8 point run to move on top by 13, 71-58, and UCLA ended the run with a 3 pointers. At the under 4 media timeout, the Cats lead by 11, 73-62, and UCLA will have possession after the break with 3:46 remaining in the game.
The Cats play the final segment with a lead of 10 to 13 points, as De'Aaron Fox goes to the line and makes 6-6 from the line, and the Cats made both shots from the field, including a dunk by Edrice (BAM) Adebayo, his first basket of the game. Following a 3 pointer that cut the lead back to 10 points, UCLA takes a timeout with 1:09 remaining. Cats win by 11, 86-75 and advance to the Elite 8 for the 6 th time in 8 years of the Calipari Era where they will face North Carolina on Sunday afternoon.
UK scored its 86 points on 67 possessions (1.284 ppp) for the game, and UCLA scored its 75 points on 65 possessions (1.154 ppp).
Kentucky won the battle of the boards, 29-28, and Kentucky won on the offensive end 10-8. Kentucky used its 10 second chance possessions to score 15 second chance points, and UCLA used its 8 second chance possessions to score 8 second chance points. UCLA had an offensive efficiency of 1.031 ppp on its 65 first chance possessions and 1.000 ppp for its 8 second chance possessions. UK had 1.060 ppp on its 67 first chance possessions and 1.500 ppp on its 10 second chance possessions. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed 33.3% of its misses as offensive rebounds while UCLA was able to convert 29.6% of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.
UK hit well from the free throw line making 14-17 (82.4%). UCLA made 8-13 [61.5%] for the game. Field goal shooting for UK was 31-63 overall [49.2%] and 10-23 from long range [43.5%]. For UCLA, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was 20-32 [52.7%] and from long range, UCLA hit 9-23 [39.1%].
The Cats committed 6 turnovers, one for every 11.2 possessions. The Cats forced 13 UCLA turnovers, one for every 5.0 possessions.
Next Game On Schedule: Sunday afternoon in the Elite 8 of the NCAA Tournament against North Carolina in Memphis at a time to be determined.
Submitted by Richard Cheeks
Submitted by Richard Cheeks