2016-17 Season Analytical Writings

Cats Face North Carolina for Trip To Final Four

Friday night, the Kentucky Wildcats beat UCLA by 11 points, 86-75 to advance to the NCAA Elite 8. Since the NCAA Tournament started in 1939, there have been 88 Elite 8's played. Kentucky has advanced to a record 32 Elite 8 appearances, winning 17 times and ending their season at the Elite 8 15 times. In the last seven seasons with Coach Calipari at the helm, the Cats have advanced to the Elite 8 5 times, winning 4 and losing only 1, his first such appearance for UK in 2010. For the fourth time, UK's Elite 8 opponent will be the North Carolina Tar Heels. In 1977, Coach Hall's Cats fell to the Tar Heels, and Coach Hall led the Cats to a championship in 1978. In 1995, Coach Pitino's Cats fell to the Tar Heels, and Coach Pitino led the Cats to a championship in 1996. In 2011, Coach Calipari's Cats faced the Tar Heels, and advanced to the Final Four where they fell short of a Championship, but Coach Calipari led his Cats to a championship in 2012.

Now it is 2017, and the Cats and Tar Heels are again set to compete for a trip to the Final Four for the fourth time. Kentucky seeks to bring their all-time record against the Tar Heels in NCAA tournament games even with the Cats' second trip to a final four at the expense of the Tar Heels, and advance to the final four for the 18 th time in their 33 rd appearance in the Elite 8.

The Cat and the Heels met earlier this season in Las Vegas. The Cats survived that offensive showcase 103-100 on a day that saw Malik Monk score 47 points, including a pair of 3 pointers in the last 1:21 of the game that simply put the capstone on his outstanding offensive outburst and drove the stake into the heart of the Tar Heels. The first 3 pointer occurred 15 seconds after Justin Jacksons 3 pointer with 1:37 remaining finished a 7-0 UNC run to move from down 4 to up 3 with only 97 seconds left in the game. This was Carolina's first lead since the Tar Heels led 12-10 at the 15:46 mark of the first half. Malik Monk wasted no time eliminating that UNC lead just 16 seconds later. Then, Justin Jackson lifted the Heels back into the lead on a lay up with 0:47 on the clock. Jackson missed a free throw that would have given the Heels another 3 point lead, but Luke Maye got an offensive rebound, and 19 seconds later, Joel Berry missed a layup attempt with 0:28 on the clock. Malik Monk put the Cats into the lead with his second unconscious 3 pointer 6 second later. Hanging on to the fragile 1 point lead, 101-100, the Cats' defense prevented a layup attempt by Isaiah Hicks with 0:06, and Wenyen Gabriel secured the rebound, passed the ball to De'Aaron Fox, who was fouled with 0:03 on the clock.

Kentucky led the vast majority of this game, by as many as 12 points in the first half and by as many as 10 points in the second half. UNC held the lead for a total of 260 seconds (4 min 20 seconds) in the first half and 22 seconds described above in the second half. Yet, the game remained in doubt until Kenny Williams' (UNC) 3 point attempt at the final buzzer missed the mark. Now, the basketball gods have set them up to go toe-to-toe for another 40 minutes, this time in Memphis with the stakes being the winner moves on to the Final Four and the loser's season ends.

NORTH CAROLINA enters this game with an ANE of 0.243 points per possession against strength of schedule of 0.1116 ppp (#17). The Cats enter this game with an ANE of 0.299 ppp against strength of schedule of 0.1051 ppp (#24). The ANE analysis indicates a game too close to call with the slimmest of theoretical margin of less than ½ point in North Carolina's favor in a game with about 150 to 155 total points scored at a pace of 75 possessions. Pomeroy sees this game in Kentucky's favor by 1 point 82-81 at a pace of 75 possessions. Vegas opened at with UNC a 3 point favorite, and the line has slipped slightly to 2 ½ points.

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

North Carolina controls the opening tip and opens the scoring after both teams have empty first possessions. The Cats fail on their second trip, and Malik Monk fouls Jackson outside the arc, and North Carolina moves on top 4-0. After North Carolina goes out to a 6-0 lead, De'Aaron Fox gets the Cats on the Board with a layup and a 3 pointer. However, the Tar Heels get the next 5 points to move back on top by 6. Isaac Humphries makes a jumper from the foul line to trim the North Carolina lead to 4 points, 11-7, at the under 16 media timeout. In the second segment, North Carolina maintains their lead in the 4 to 6 point range, and lead by 5, 18-13, at the under 12 media timeout with 11:15 remaining in the first half. Edrice (BAM) Adebayo will be at the line for a pair of free throws after the break.

In the first 8 plus minutes, there have been 16 possession (80 possession pace) and the Cats have made only 5 of 12 shots compared to 7 of 17 by North Carolina. After trading baskets for about 3 minutes, the Cats have trouble getting an inbounds pass from beneath their own basket and burn a timeout with 8:38 remaining with the score 25-19. Thus far, neither team has obtained an offensive rebound. After the timeout, the Cats fail to get a score, and North Carolina scores at the other end to move on top by 8. After a 3 pointer by Dominique Hawkins, North Carolina scores to move on 7 at the under 8 media timeout, with only 6:16 remaining in the first half. The score stands at 31-24.

In the shortened 4 th segment, the Cats clawed back to within 4 points, 34-30, and seemed to have the ball back on a turnover when an official came from the other end of the court and assessed a foul on Derek Willis, his second, during a loose ball scrum. North Carolina converted the free throws, and lead by 6, 36-30, at the under 4 media timeout with 3:39 remaining.

The Cats trail by 5 at the half, 38-33.

The Cats scored 33 points on 39 possessions, 0.846 points per possession, and NORTH CAROLINA managed their 38 points on 39 possessions, 0.974 ppp. The Cats made 37.5% (12-32) of their first half shots, including 4-11 (36.4%) from outside the arc. NORTH CAROLINA managed to make 50.0% (15-30) of their first half shots, including 1-7 (14.3%) from outside the arc.

The Cats made 5-11 free throws (45.5%) and NORTH CAROLINA made 7-13 (53.8%) in the first half.

The Cats committed 4 turnovers while forcing NORTH CAROLINA to commit 7.

On the Boards, North Carolina controlled the boards 25-18, and North Carolina won the offensive boards 4-3 offensive boards. The Tar Heels hold a 4-2 advantage on second chance points. The Cats secured 12.5% of their misses and allowed NORTH CAROLINA to grab 21.1% of their misses as second chance opportunities.

Second Half:

Kentucky opens the second half with two empty trips, but they prevent North Carolina scores as well, and then the Cats run off 6 straight to move into their first lead of the game, 39-38. North Carolina moves back into the lead on a pair of free throws, and lead by 1, 40-39 at the under 16 media timeout. After the timeout, Jackson makes a 3 pointer while being fouled by Malik Monk for a 4 point play. In the second segment, North Carolina moved back on top by 6, and the Cats fought back to within 3. However, a basket at the end of the segment pushed the margin back to 5, 52-47, and North Carolina's Maye will have a free throw to complete a 3 point play after the break.

The Cats claw back to within a point, 55-54 with 8:32 remaining. The Cats will have a pair of free throws by Isaac Humphries after the under 8 media timeout, with a chance to move into the lead, not trailing 57-56 with 7:27 left in the game. After Isaac Humphries makes both, he makes a layup and a 15 foot jump shot from the left elbow to push the Cats to their biggest lead of the game, 5 points, 64-59. Roy Williams takes a timeout with 5:03 remaining in the game. After the timeout, the Tar Heels score back to back baskets to trim the lead to 1. Following a block of a shot attempt by Edrice (BAM) Adebayo, the Cats foul North Carolina on the run out, sending the game to the under 4 media timeout with the Cats up by 1, 64-63. North Carolina set for a pair of free throws after the break with 3:22 remaining in the game. After the timeout, the Cats turn it over, and even though they get it back following an offensive foul, a wild 3 point attempt by Malik Monk sends North Carolina back to the line where the Tar Heels extend the lead to 7. After making the free throws, the Cats come up empty on their next two possessions, and North Carolina makes them pay with 4 more points to move on top by 5 due to a 10-0 after being down 5. Coach Calipari takes a timeout with 1:45 remaining.

A 3 pointer by De'Aaron Fox trims the lead to 4, and Kentucky takes another timeout with 53 seconds left in the game. North Carolina cannot get the ball in play in 5 seconds, and the cats get it back. Malik Monk drains a 3 pointer to cut the lead to 1 point, but North Carolina gets a run out basket at the other end. When the Cats bring it into offensive court with a chance to tie, Edrice (BAM) Adebayo turns the ball over with 17 seconds left. Malik Monk fouls Jackson with 15 seconds left. After North Carolina misses, Malik Monk makes a 3 pointer to tie the game, but with the 7 seconds that remain, North Carolina gets a basket to go on top by 2 with 0.3 seconds left.

Cats lose 75-73, and the season ends for the Cats with a 32-6 record in the Elite 8.


UK scored its 73 points on 73 possessions (1.000 ppp) for the game, and NORTH CAROLINA scored its 75 points on 72 possessions (1.042 ppp).

North Carolina won the battle of the boards, 44-35, and North Carolina won on the offensive end 13-11. Kentucky used its 11 second chance possessions to score 12 second chance points, and NORTH CAROLINA used its 13 second chance possessions to score 17 second chance points. NORTH CAROLINA had an offensive efficiency of 0.806 ppp on its 72 first chance possessions and 1.308 ppp for its 13 second chance possessions. UK had 0.835 ppp on its 73 first chance possessions and 1.091 ppp on its 11-second chance possessions. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed 26.2% of its misses as offensive rebounds while NORTH CAROLINA was able to convert 35.1% of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.

UK hit poorly from the free throw line making 12-19 (63.2%). NORTH CAROLINA made 18-26 [69.2%] for the game. Field goal shooting for UK was 27-65 overall [41.5%] and 7-19 from long range [36.8%]. For NORTH CAROLINA, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was 24-43 [55.8%] and from long range, NORTH CAROLINA hit 3-15 [20.0%].

The Cats committed 9 turnovers, one for every 8.1 possessions. The Cats forced 16 NORTH CAROLINA turnovers, one for every 4.5 possessions.

Next Game On Schedule: This concludes the 2016-17 basketball season for the Cats.

Submitted by Richard Cheeks

Submitted by Richard Cheeks




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