BIG BLUE FANS FOR
Yesterday, at Rupp Arena, the Kentucky Wildcats turned in a performance worthy of the name on the front of the jerseys, an effort that produced a resounding 29 point win over the Cards. Clearly, this was this team's best effort of the season, but given the roller-coaster ride that has defined the non-conference portion of the schedule, questions remain about how this team will compete in a rugged SEC. Furthermore, the time for pondering such questions has passed because tomorrow evening, the Cats will open their defense of their 2017 regular season and tournament championships, championships that the Cats have dominated over the decades.
Despite the Cats' dominance of the SEC over the years, and despite the dominance the Cats displayed Friday dismantling the Cards, the Cats will not begin the SEC season favored to win the Championship in 2018. That honor belongs to Texas A&M, Arkansas or Tennessee based on their respective non-conference records. The Cats will open their defense at Rupp against Georgia, and then the SEC schedule makers send the Cats on the road to LSU and Tennessee before returning to Rupp to face the Aggies on January 9, 2018. Then, its back on the road to Vanderbilt and South Carolina. Four of the first 6 conference games will be on the road.
Georgia will come into Rupp sporting a 9-2 record. Last year, Georgia started the SEC with a 7-4 record, and in 2016 their pre-conference record was 7-3. The Georgia losses have been to #53 San Diego State by 7 on a neutral court, and at #137 UMass by 10. Georgia's most impressive non-conference wins have been over #33 Saint Mary's by 2 in OT on a neutral court, at #52 Marquette by 7, and against #87 Temple by 18 points. Georgia is currently ranked #79 with an ANE of 0.089 ppp after having played a schedule strength of -0.004 ppp (#193).
The Cats begin SEC play ranked #35 with an ANE of 0.188 ppp after having played a schedule with a schedule strength of 0.031 ppp (#93). The ANE analysis has the Cats favored by 10 points, 78-68 in a game played at a pace of 73 possessions. Vegas has opened favoring the Cats by 11, and Pomeroy has the Cats favored by 11, 77-66 with a pace of 69 possessions.
Use the following link to see how other UK fans handicap this game at 247Sports, The Cats Pause message board:
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Coach Calipari will start Quade Green, Nick Richards, Kevin Knox, PJ Washington, and Hamidou Diallo in the starting lineup. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Wenyen Gabriel, and Tai Wynyard will provide the primary bench help. Jarred Vanderbilt remains unavailable.
The Dawgs control the opening tip and score on their first possession. The Cats draw blanks on their first two possessions, and Georgia moves on top 4-0. Nick Richards picks up two quick fouls and heads to the bench with 17:45 remaining in the first half and the Cats down 4-0. Then PJ Washington picks up his 2 nd foul and heads to the bench with 17:36 and the score remaining 4-0. When Georgia gets a second chance basket to go up 6-0, Coach Calipari takes a timeout with just over 17 minutes left on the clock. At the under 16 media timeout, the Dawgs lead by 6 points, 8-2. After the break, the Cats get a pair of free throws from Kevin Knox, a basket by Quade Green, 3 pointer by Quade Green, and 1 of 2 free throws by Quade Green to tie the score at 10-10. Then, off a steal by Tai Wynyard, Quade Green scores to give the Cats their first lead, 12-10, prompting a Georgia timeout with 10:18 remaining.
The first quarter of this game has been sloppy at best. The Cats have only made 4 of their 16 shots (25%) and Georgia has made 5 of their 15 shots (33%). The Cats have a 5-4 advantge on the offensive glass, but Georgia has a 6-4 advantage on second chance points. In the third segment, Georgia scores the only points, a single basket, to tie the score, 12-12 at the under 8 media timeout. The Cats are now 4-20 from the field (20%) and Georgia has dropped to 6-19 (32%). After the timeout, the Cats turn the ball over, and foul Georgia on the resulting scrum. Georgia moves back into the lead after making 1 of 2 from the line. After another Kentucky turnover, Georgia gets a fast break basket to move on top by 3. Kevin Knox picks up his 2 nd foul with 5:26 remaining in the first half and goes to the bench to join Nick Richards and Washington. With 4:26 remaining, the Dawgs lead the Cats 19-15 primarily on the strength of an 8-4 advantage in second chance points.
After the timeout, Georgia turned the ball over with a shot clock violation, and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander makes a 3 point play to trim the lead to 1 point. After the Dawgs score 6 straight to go up by 7, the Cats get the last 6, all at the line, to pull within 1 point, 27-26, at the half.
The Cats scored 26 points on 34 possessions, 0.765 points per possession, and Georgia managed their 27 points on 35 possessions, 0.771 ppp. The Cats made 20.7% of their first half shots, including 1-8 from outside the arc. GEORGIA managed to make 34.3% of their first half shots, including 0-11 from outside the arc.
The Cats committed 7 turnovers in the first half while GEORGIA committed 7 turnovers.
The Cats made 13-15 free throws (86.7%) and GEORGIA was 3-5 (60.0%) from the line in the first half.
On the Boards, the Cats controlled the boards with a 24-22 advantage, but the Dawgs won the battle on the offensive glass 9-8. The Cats used their 8 offensive rebounds to score 8 second chance points while the Dawgs used its 9 offensive rebounds for 10 second chance points. The Cats secured 38.1% of their misses and allowed GEORGIA to grab 36.0% of their misses as second chance opportunities.
Georgia opens the second half with its first two 3 pointers of the game to move on top 33-26 which is the biggest lead of the game. The Dawgs finish the opening segment with an 8 point lead, 39-31 at the under 16 media timeout. The Cats will have the ball after the break. In the opening segment, the Dawgs made 5-6 shots including those back to back 3 pointers to start the second half, and the Cats made 2 of their 6 shots, going 1-3 from outside the arc. In the second segment, the Cats clawed their way back to within 3 points, 42-39, at the under 12 media timeout, and Georgia will have the ball after this timeout.
In the third segment of the second half, the Cats continue to claw back, regaining the lead, 47-46, on a drive by Hamidou Diallo across the lane. After the under 8 media timeout, Georgia will have the ball. After the timeout, Georgia scored 6 straight to move back on top by 5, 51-46. However, the Cats then started a run of 10-2 to move into its biggest lead of the game by 3, 56-53, at the under 4 media timeout with 3:45 remaining in the game. Georgia will have a pair of free throws after the break.
After the timeout, Georgia made 1 of 2 from the line, and after PJ Washington missed a pair of free throws, he fouls out, allowing Georgia to trim another point after making 1 of 2 again. Hamidou Diallo makes a layup from the right baseline, and Georgia matches to again pull to within 1 point. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander makes a basket to lift the Cats back in front by 3, and Georgia takes a timeout, down 3, 60-57, with 1:46 remaining in the game.
After the timeout, Georgia turns the ball over, and Wenyen Gabriel makes a 3 pointer to lift the Cats into a 6 point lead. After a Georgia missed shot, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander makes 1 of 2 from the line with 38 seconds left. Cats win 66-61.
The Cats continue to have wide swings in effort, game-to-game, and today's effort against Georgia is clearly on the down beat following the season's best effort last time out against Louisville.
UK scored its 66 points on 66 possessions (1.000 ppp) for the game, and GEORGIA scored its 61 points on 67 possessions (0.910 ppp).
Kentucky won the battle of the boards, with a rebounding edge 42-38, and the Cats won the battle of the offensive glass, 15-14. Kentucky used its 15 second chance possessions to score 14 second chance points, and GEORGIA used its 14 second chance possessions to score 16 second chance points. GEORGIA had an offensive efficiency of 0.672 ppp on its 67 first chance possessions and 1.143 ppp for its 14 second chance possessions. UK had 0.788 ppp on its 66 first chance possessions and 0.933 ppp on its 15 second chance possessions. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed 38.5% of its misses as offensive rebounds while GEORGIA was able to convert 34.1% of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.
UK hit well from the free throw line in this game, making 27-38 [71.1%]. GEORGIA made 13-21 [61.9%] for the game. Field goal shooting for UK was 17-54 overall [31.5%] and 5-16 from long range [31.3%]. For GEORGIA, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was a strong 21-37 [56.8%] and from long range, GEORGIA hit 2-21 [9.5%].
The Cats committed 9 turnovers, one for every 7.3 possessions. The Cats forced 15 GEORGIA turnovers, one for every 4.5 possessions.
Next Game On Schedule: Wednesday night in Baton Rouge against LSU for the fourteenth regular season game and second SEC game of the 2017-18 season. This will be the Cats' first true road game this season.
Submitted by Richard Cheeks
Submitted by Richard Cheeks