Cats Off To Slowest Start of Calipari Era
Kansas Poses Huge Threat To Expose The Cats

Each summer and early fall, we have all grown accustomed to Coach Calipari's familiar refrain that his team is so young, the road will be bumpy, but he really likes his team. The common response to these annual warnings has included a subtle rolling of the eyes, and a silent retort, “Yeah Coach, we know.”

However, this team is clearly different, and if our expectations are based on how Coach Calipari's previous eight teams have matured and developed, especially early in the schedule, we are very likely to be disappointed this season. This team has had the slowest start of the Calipari Era, as shown in the Table below:

The typical Calipari teams have completed their first two games with an Adjusted Net Efficiency (ANE) between 0.166 ppp and 0.285 ppp. There are two outliers on the high end, 2010-11 (0.435 ppp) and 2011-12 (0.419 ppp). There has been one outlier on the low end, 2009-10 (0.071 ppp), and the current team sets a new low for their first two games at 0.045 ppp.

This does not mean this team cannot or will not develop into a team capable of competing on the national stage. For proof of this assertion, we only need to look at Calipari's previous slowest starting team, 2009-10. The Cousins, Wall, Bledsoe group were quick learners, and we all know how competitive that team was as it ran through the regular season with only two losses, at South Carolina and at Tennessee. However, it does mean this current team has not climbed its learning curve much during its three exhibitions and first two regular season games.

As has become the custom with Coach Calipari schedules, the Cats now travel to Chicago to appear in the annual Champions' Classic, and this year their opponent is #4 Kansas. Yes, Kentucky does bring a current ranking of #5 into this game, but the differences between this Kansas team on November 13 and this Kentucky team on November 13 are substantial.

Kansas has also played three exhibition games this pre-season. They opened their exhibition season against Missouri at a neutral court, winning by 6, 93-87. This Missouri team controlled that game into the second half before the Jayhawks pulled away. Kansas also took care of business in its two traditional exhibitions, beating Pittsburg State by 46, 100-54, and beating Fort Hays State by 29, 86-57. Coach Self's Jayhawks opened their regular season Friday night, disposing of #219 Tennessee State by 36, 92-56.

It appears that this Kansas is on par with most Kansas teams, but it also appears that this Kentucky team is not on par with most Kentucky teams in the early going. The Adjusted Net Efficiency (ANE) analysis for this match up, based on early season experience for each team, indicates a 24 point Kansas win over Kentucky in a game played at 78 possessions, 65-89. Pomeroy sees this game with Kansas having a 1-point advantage, 77-78 played at a pace of 75 possessions.

See how other UK fans handicap this game at 247Sports, The Cats Pause message board at:

You can participate in the score prediction contest at 247Sports at the following link:

Game Summary:

Coach Calipari opens third game of the season with Nick Richards, Kevin Knox, PJ Washington, Quade Green, and Hamidou Diallo in the starting lineup for the second game in a row. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Sacha Killeya-Jones, Wenyen Gabriel, , and Tai Wynyard will provide the primary bench help. Jarred Vanderbilt remains unavailable as the season opens.

Kansas controls the tip and wastes no time getting on the scoreboard. The Cats take it inside to PJ Washington who is fouled and gets a pair of free throws. After trading baskets to a 4-4 tie, the Jayhawks used 4 offensive rebounds to post 5 second chance points and a 13-7 lead at the under 16 media timeout. Out of the timeout, the Cats missed both shots and commit 1 turnover while Kansas scores a run out basket off the turnover, and a 3 pointer to move on top by 11, 18-7 forcing Coach Calipari to take a timeout with 13:53 remaining. After the timeout, the Cats end the Kansas run with a pair of free throws, and trim the lead to 5, 20-15, at the under 12 media timeout.

In the first 9 minutes, Kansas is controlling the Boards with an 8-1 advantage on the offensive glass and a 13-6 total rebounding. That has given the Jayhawks 9 more shots than the Cats. In the third segment, the Cats claw to within 3 points on back to back 3 pointers by Kevin Knox. Kansas gets to the under 8 media timeout with a 5 point lead, 28-23, and Kevin Knox will be on the line for a pair of free throws after the timeout with 7:10 remaining in the first half.

After the timeout, Kevin Knox missed the first and made the second, Hamidou Diallo got a run out layup off a steal, and Wenyen Gabriel hit a jump shot from the top of the key to tie the game, 28-28, and Kansas takes a timeout. After the timeout, the Jayhawks score the final 4 points of the segment and lead 32-28 at the under 4 media timeout, and Kansas has the ball.

The story of this first half is the 13-1 Kansas advantage on the offensive glass producing a 15-2 advantage on second chance points. Kansas goes to the locker room with a point lead, 34-33.

The Cats scored 33 points on 36 possessions, 0.917 points per possession, and Kansas University managed their 34 points on 35 possessions, 0.971 ppp. The Cats made 44.0% of their first half shots, including 3-7 from outside the arc. Kansas University managed to make 34.2% of their first half shots, including 4-15 from outside the arc.

The Cats made 8-10 free throws (80.0%) and Kansas University managed to make 4-7 free throws (57.1%).

On the Boards, the Jayhawks controlled the glass 24-13 overall, and Kansas won the battle on the offensive glass 15-1. Kansas is staying in this game with a 15-2 advantage on second chance points. The Cats secured 10.0% of their misses and allowed Kansas University to grab 55.6% of their misses as second chance opportunities.

Second Half:

The Cats open the second half with a missed three pointer. After Kansas also misses its first shot, also a 3-point attempt, the Cats score to take the lead. The teams traded baskets through the segment with the Cats leading by 1, 40-39, at the under 16 media timeout, and the Cats will have the ball under their basket after the break. In the segment, the Cats got three offensive rebounds and 3-second chance points and prevented Kansas from adding any to their totals.

In the second segment, the Cats dropped a point, now trailing by 2, 45-43 at the under 12 media timeout with 11:48 remaining and Kansas in possession. The Cats added two more offensive boards and 3 second chance points in the segment, while Kansas got no offensive boards in the segment. In the third segment, Kansas takes advantage of 3 Kentucky turnovers to get some separation on the scoreboard, taking a 6 point lead, 51-45, and Coach Calipari takes a timeout with 9:11 remaining in the game. After the timeout, the Cats trim a pair of points from the lead, and will have a pair of free throws, trailing by 4, 51-47, at the under 8 media timeout.

In the 4 th segment, the Cats catch up at 51, 53, and again at 55-55. After the Cats fail to take the lead on a possession that provided 3 shot attempts, Bill Self takes a timeout with 4:32 remaining. After the timeout, Kansas fails to score, and the Cats take a lead, 57-55 on a second chance basket by Nick Richards. Kansas matches the score with a second chance basket of their own. On the next possession, the Cats fail to score, and foul Kansas. The score is tied, 57-57 at the under 4 media timeout with 2:57 left in the game and Kansas set for free throws after this final media timeout.

Kansas made 1 of 2 free throws, and after the Cats fail to score, Kansas gets a second chance 3 pointer to go up by 4 points, 61-57, and Coach Calipari takes a timeout with 2:06 remaining. Kevin Knox gets a basket on the blocks, and Kansas is unable to get off a shot, turning the ball back to the Cats with 33.6 seconds remaining.

Kevin Knox missed from the baseline, and the Cats foul Newman with 17 seconds left. Kansas moved back on top by 4 with both free throws. Sacha Killeya-Jones gets a second chance basket to cut the lead to 2 points, and Kentucky burned its last timeout with 8 seconds remaining.

Cats lose to Kansas by 4, 65-61.


UK scored its 61 points on 71 possessions (0.859 ppp) for the game, and Kansas University scored its 65 points on 70 possessions (0.929 ppp).

Kentucky won the battle of the boards, with a rebounding edge 39-38, but Kansas won the battle of the offensive glass 18-10. Kentucky used its 10 second chance possessions to score 12 second chance points, and Kansas University used its 18 second chance possessions to score 20 second chance points. Kansas University had an offensive efficiency of 0.643 ppp on its 70 first chance possessions and 1.111 ppp for its 18 second chance possessions. UK had 0.690 ppp on its 71 first chance possessions and 1.200 ppp on its 10 second chance possessions. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed 33.3% of its misses as offensive rebounds while Kansas University was able to convert 38.3% of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.

UK hit poorly from the free throw line in this game, making 12-18 [66.7%]. Kansas University made 9-16 [56.3%] for the game. Field goal shooting for UK was 23-54 overall [42.6%] and 3-12 from long range [25.0%]. For Kansas University, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was a weak 16-40 [40.0%] and from long range, Kansas University hit 8-28 [28.6%].

The Cats committed 18 turnovers, one for every 3.9 possessions. The Cats forced 11 Kansas University turnovers, one for every 6.4 possessions.

Next Game On Schedule: Friday night at Rupp Arena against East Tennessee State for the fourth regular season game of the 2017-18 season.

Submitted by Richard Cheeks


Submitted by Richard Cheeks


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