Cats Show Signs of Improvement and Hold Their Own Against Kansas

After the first media timeout, the Cats missed two shots and committed a turnover, and Kansas struck with a run out basket and a 3 pointer to move on top of the Cats by 11, 18-7 just barely 6 minutes into the game. These young Cats had every opportunity to fold their tents and mail in the final 34 minutes, and call it a bad night and hopefully a good learning experience. Honestly, when Coach Calipari took a timeout at that time, I believed that was the likely outcome, and wondered privately if the 24 deficit point margin I had computed would be large enough given how the game had started.

Fortunately, I was never more wrong, and I have never been more pleased to have been so.

These young Cats did not quit. These young Cats responded in a most appropriate way to the gauntlet Kansas tossed before them. Yes, this game was a learning experience, the very best kind of learning experience often called on the job training. This team went to work, and over the next 8+ minutes, the Cats methodically cut the 11 point lead to 5 (20-15) and then 3 (23-20) before catching up completely at 28-28 with 6:17 remaining in the first half. The Cats actually took a 1 point lead (33-32) but Kansas only allowed that lead to stand for 14 seconds.

Over the final two minutes of the first half, the Cats held Kansas scoreless, but could not take advantage of the Jayhawks inability to score, failing to score as well for the halftime lead on three possessions. The second half was competitive from start to finish, and the Cats held their last lead of the game, 2 points, with 3:38 remaining. However, Kansas finished the game with a 10-4 run to the final, 65-61 win over the Cats.

These young Cats grew up some Tuesday night against Kansas on one of the biggest stages for college basketball there is in November. The Cats now enter a period of their schedule designed for their maturing over the next six games spanning the next 3 weeks. The Cats' opponents during this segment of the schedule are much less important than the opportunity settle into a 2 game per week routine and dedicate their practice regime to learning how to win at the major college basketball level of competition.

The Cats' have posted game Adjusted Net Efficiencies in the first three games of 0.14 ppp, 0.20 ppp, and 0.28 ppp respectively. While the ANE values of the first two games were lower than we have customarily seen from Coach Calipari's teams in their first two games, the trend, game to game, is clearly on an upward trajectory. Over the next 6 games, that upward trend should continue and eventually stabilize at a level above the 0.30 ppp level if this team has serious plans for March.

On Friday night, the Cats will return to Rupp Arena for the fourth game of the season against East Tennessee State Univeristy (ETSU). Last season, ETSU finished with a 27-8 record that included a Southern Conference regular season and post season tournament championships that earned the Buccaneers a berth in the NCAA tournament. ETSU lost in the first round to Florida by 15. The Buccaneers have opened this season with two games on the road, and Friday's appearance at Rupp with be their third road game without a home date. ETSU lost its opener to #115 Northern Kentucky by 18 and got their first win of the season at #327 Savannah State by 15 on Monday night.

The Adjusted Net Efficiency (ANE) analysis for this match up, based on early season experience for each team, indicates a 23 point Kentucky win over ETSU in a game played at 74 possessions, 80-57. Pomeroy sees this game with Kentucky having a 20-point advantage, 84-64 played at a pace of 74 possessions.

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Game Summary:

Coach Calipari will start Nick Richards, Kevin Knox, PJ Washington, Quade Green, and Hamidou Diallo in the starting lineup for the third 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.

The Cats control the opening tip and turn it over, the first of 3 turnovers by the Cats in the opening segment of the game, as ETSU moves on top by as many as 3 points, and by 2 points with possession, 8-6, at the under 16 media timeout. In the second segment, the Cats continue to play a lackluster brand of basketball in the early going, and ETSU moves on top by 7, 15-8, forcing Coach Calipari to take a timeout with 12:26 remaining. After the timeout, the Cats failed to score on a missed shot, and commit another turnover while ETSU makes their 4 th 3 pointer of the game to move on top by 10, 18-8, at the under 12 media timeout.

In the third segment, the Cats use 5-6 shooting, including 2-2 on 3 pointers by Quade Green to cut the 10 point lead to 3 points, 23-20, and ETSU takes a timeout with 8:15 remaining. In the fourth segment, the Cats move into the lead for the first time, 26-25, and then by 4 points, 29-25. The Cats' lead is 2 points, 32-30, at the under 4 media timeout and the Cats have the ball.

The Cats take a 6 point lead, 36-30, to the locker room.

The Cats scored 36 points on 34 possessions, 1.059 points per possession, and ETSU managed their 30 points on 34 possessions, 0.882 ppp. The Cats made 57.1% of their first half shots, including 4-9 from outside the arc. ETSU managed to make 37.5% of their first half shots, including 6-18 from outside the arc.

Each team committed 9 turnovers in the first half.

The Cats made 0-3 free throws (0.0%) and ETSU did not attempt a free throw in the first half.

On the Boards, the Buccaneers and the Cats each grabbed 16 rebounds, but ETSU has a 7-5 advantage on the offensive glass. Each team score 4 second chance points. The Cats secured 35.7% of their misses and allowed ETSU to grab 38.9% of their misses as second chance opportunities.

Second Half:

ETSU opens play in the second half by missing their first 8 shots, and one turnover, while the Cats make 4 of 5 shots to extend their 6 point halftime lead to 15 points, 45-30, at the under 16 media timeout. Since the Cats trailed by 10, 18-8, at the under 12 media timeout of the first half, the Cats have made 16 of their 20 shots. However, they have missed all 6 of their free throw attempts. In the second segment, the Cats saw ETSU whittle their lead to 13 points, 52-39, at the under 12 media timeout, and the Cats have the possession.

At the end of the third segment, the Cats lead by 15, 61-46, and at the end of the fourth segment, the Cats lead by 16, 70-54 with 3:29 remaining in the game.

Cats win 78-61.


UK scored its 78 points on 73 possessions (1.068 ppp) for the game, and ETSU scored its 61 points on 72 possessions (0.847 ppp).

Kentucky won the battle of the boards, with a rebounding edge 40-37, but ETSU won the battle of the offensive glass 19-13. Kentucky used its 13 second chance possessions to score 15 second chance points, and ETSU used its 19second chance possessions to score 13 second chance points. ETSU had an offensive efficiency of 0.667 ppp on its 72 first chance possessions and 0.684 ppp for its 19 second chance possessions. UK had 0.863 ppp on its 73 first chance possessions and 1.154 ppp on its 13 second chance possessions. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed 41.9% of its misses as offensive rebounds while ETSU was able to convert 41.3% of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.

UK hit VERY VERY poorly from the free throw line in this game, making 3-15 [20.0%]. ETSU made 9-14 [64.3%] for the game. Field goal shooting for UK was 33-58 overall [56.9%] and 9-16 from long range [56.3%]. For ETSU, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was a weak 14-37 [37.8%] and from long range, ETSU hit 8-31 [25.8%].

The Cats committed 22 turnovers, one for every 3.3 possessions. The Cats forced 16 ETSU turnovers, one for every 4.5 possessions.

Next Game On Schedule: Monday night at Rupp Arena against Troy for the fifth regular season game of the 2017-18 season.

Submitted by Richard Cheeks


Submitted by Richard Cheeks


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