Cats Remain On Road For Fourth Game of First Six At South Carolina

The SEC schedule makers decided to send a young Kentucky team on the road for four of their first six conference games, and with one road appearance remaining in this opening sequence of games, the Cats will put a 4-1 SEC start on the line in Columbia, South Carolina on Tuesday night. With two road wins in the books without a home loss, the Cats are tied for the lead of the SEC using the following equation:

A road win = +1

A home loss = -1

All other outcomes = 0

Using this formulation, the Cats are tied with Florida and Auburn at +2. Six teams are tied in 4 th place with a score of 0, with four additional teams (Mississippi State, Arkansas, Texas A&M, and Georgia) at -1. Vanderbilt is bringing up the rear at -2. The Cats can move to +3 with a win on Tuesday night at South Carolina. This is a significant potential achievement for the Cats in their quest for another SEC regular season championship because +4 has been sufficient to win the SEC regular season championship every year since Calipari arrived in Lexington and +3 would have won a share of the title in four of Calipari's eight full seasons.

So, if the Cats can get out of Columbia with a win (won't be easy but is likely) the Cats will be one additional road win away from championship position, presuming the Cats do not suffer a home loss to a conference opponent this season.

In the last two games, the Cats' bench has been reduced by injuries to Quade Green and Tai Wynyard with Jarred Vanderbilt still sitting in a self-imposed exile from game action. One day prior to the upcoming war with the Gamecocks, there is no indication from Coach Calipari on the possible return of Quade Green, Tai Wynyard, or the emergence of Jarred Vanderbilt. Rather, Coach Calipari is talking about the “wisdom” of shortening the rotation to 6 or 7 players, as he had done in the past while at UMass and as advised to him by the late John Wooden.

SOUTH CAROLINA has started this season with a 10-6, 2-3 in the SEC against D1 opponents. The Gamecocks have played with an ANE of 0.099 ppp (#82) after having played a schedule strength of 0.041 ppp (#57). South Carolina's most impressive win this season came this past Saturday when they defeated #62 Georgia by 7 in Athens, Georgia. The Gamecocks have difficulty explaining an early season loss to #168 Illinois State by 4 on a neutral court.

The Cats are ranked #37 with an ANE of 0.186 ppp after having played a schedule with a schedule strength of 0.070 ppp (#15). The ANE analysis has the Cats favored by 1 point, 72-71 in a game played at a pace of 73 possessions. Pomeroy has the Cats favored by 3, 71-68 with a pace of 70 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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Game Summary:

Coach Calipari will start Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Nick Richards, Kevin Knox, PJ Washington, and Hamidou Diallo. Wenyen Gabriel and Sacha Killeya-Jones will provide the primary bench help even though Jarred South Carolina may be available for action for the first time this season. Jamalr Baker, Quade Green and Tai Wynyard are unavailable for this game.

The Cats control the opening tip and immediately turns the ball over, yielding a run out layup at the other end. After the Cats miss their first shot, USC hits a second chance 3 pointer as the shot clock expired, and following a UK missed 3 point attempt by Kevin Knox from the right corner, USC scores on a bank shot to move out to an early 7-0 lead. Coach Calipari takes a quick timeout. After the timeout, the Cats finally get on the board with a basket by PJ Washington, but USC matched the Cats' scoring over the balance of the opening segment and lead by 7, 11-4, at the under 16 media timeout.

In the opening 4 minutes, the Cat made 2 of 5 shots while USC made 4 of 6 shots. The Cats committed the only 2 turnovers, and the Gamecocks grabbed the only offensive rebound, and scored the only second chance points. The Cats have fouled USC twice, sending them to the line both times, and the Cats have not gotten a free throw yet in the game. In the second segment, Kevin Knox led a charge to cut the USC lead to 3 points, 13-10, but USC hit two unanswered 3 pointers, back to back, to lead 19-12 at the under 12 media timeout. In the segment, Jarred Vanderbilt made his first appearance in a game as a Wildcat. In his first 2 minutes on the floor, he missed a runner badly, committed a turnover, grabbed a defensive rebound, and was fouled on a shot attempt. After the break, Jarred Vanderbilt will be at the line with a chance to score his first point in a Kentucky uniform. However, he missed them both.

Jarred Vanderbilt then fouls a 3 point shooter, and returns to the UK bench. In the third segment, USC extended their lead to a game high 9 points, 21-12, and 23-14, but the Cats clawed back into the game by ending the segment with a 10-1 run to cut the USC lead to 2 points, 24-22, at the under 8 media timeout, and the Cats will have the ball after the break.

Near the end of the segment, Wenyen Gabriel committed his second foul, and he returned to the bench and Jarred Vanderbilt reentered the game for his second stint in the game. In the fourth segment, the Cats moved into their first lead of the game, 26-24, and at the end of the segment, Sacha Killeya-Jones scored following an offensive rebound, and was fouled to give the Cats a 2 point lead at the under 4 media timeout, 28-26. Sacha Killeya-Jones will have a free throw after the timeout to try to complete the 3 point play. Through the first 16 minutes, several Cats are in mild foul trouble with two fouls each, and Coach Calipari inserted Brad Calipari into the game near the end of the fourth segment.

Sacha Killeya-Jones missed his free throw, and Jarred Vanderbilt fouled, his second, on the rebound. After Jarred Vanderbilt makes a pair of free throws to lift the Cats back on top by 2, 32-30, USC got a second chance basket, and a run out basket off a UK turnover to move back on top of the Cats by 2, 34-32, and Coach Calipari takes another timeout with 1:48 remaining.

After the timeout, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander committed his third foul on a charging call. The Cats close out the half forcing a turnover, and Hamidou Diallo gets fouled taking the ball to the basket on the run out after the turnover. The Cats lead 37-34 at the half.

The Cats scored 37 points on 39 possessions, 0.949 points per possession, and SOUTH CAROLINA managed their 34 points on 38 possessions, 0.895 ppp. The Cats made 43.5% (10-23) of their first half shots, including 0-4 from outside the arc. SOUTH CAROLINA managed to make 33.3% (10-30) of their first half shots, including 3-14 from outside the arc.

The Cats committed 11 turnovers in the first half while SOUTH CAROLINA committed 7 turnovers.

The Cats made 17-22 from the line (77.3%) and SOUTH CAROLINA made 11-19 from the line (57.9%).

On the Boards, the Cats won the overall battle of the boards 21-18, but South Carolina won the offensive rebounding battle 8-5. However, the Cats converted its 5 second chance possessions into 10 points and SOUTH CAROLINA used its 8 second chance possessions to score 7 points. The Cats secured 33.3% of their misses and allowed SOUTH CAROLINA to grab 33.3% of their misses as second chance opportunities.

Second Half:

Kentucky opens the second half with Kevin Knox drawing a foul and making 1 of 2 free throws. Following a turnover by USC, the Cats score to move on top by 6, 40-34. The second half starts just like the first half, a foul fest, with the Cats being called for 3 fouls in the first 3 minutes and USC for 4 fouls. After Kevin Knox makes a floater in the lane to lift the Cats to an 8 point lead, 42-34, Frank Martin calls a timeout with 17:22 remaining in the game. A floater from the baseline by Kevin Knox gave the Cats a 10 point lead, 44-34. USC stopped the UK run with a basket, and Hamidou Diallo committed an offensive foul for the Cats' 12 th turnover sending the game to the under 16 media timeout.

In the second segment, the fouls continue to mount as USC gets to the bonus with 14:45 left in the game and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander committing his 4 th foul. After Kevin Knox hits another floater, this one from the left side of the lane to extend the Cats' lead to 14 points, 54-40, Frank Martin takes another timeout with 12:21 remaining in the game. After the timeout, USC outscores the Cats 10-3 to cut the lead to 7, 57-50. Wenyen Gabriel fouled out of the game with 7:21 remaining at the under 8 media timeout. USC has cut a 14 point Kentucky lead to 5, 60-55, and will have a pair of free throws after the timeout with a chance to trim 2 more points from that lead. In the fourth segment, USC completes their comeback, catching the Cats at 65-65, forcing Coach Calipari to take a timeout with 4:02 remaining in the game.

Going into the final segment, USC owns the possession arrow and the Cats have the ball. Since leading 54-40, USC has outscored the Cats 25-11. Wenyen Gabriel has fouled out, and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Hamidou Diallo, Nick Richards all have 4 fouls.

After Hamidou Diallo misses a pair of free throw attempts, USC moves back into the lead on a goal tending call. After a Kentucky miss, Nick Richards fouls out, and after making both free throws, USC's lead grows to 4 points, 69-65.

Cats lose 76-68.


UK scored its 68 points on 76 possessions (0.895 ppp) for the game, and SOUTH CAROLINA scored its 76 points on 75 possessions (1.013 ppp).

USC won the battle of the boards, with a rebounding edge 40-35, and SOUTH CAROLINA controlled the offensive glass 14-6. Kentucky used its 6 second chance possessions to score 11 second chance points, and SOUTH CAROLINA used its 14 second chance possessions to score 12 second chance points. SOUTH CAROLINA had an offensive efficiency of 0.853 ppp on its 75 first chance possessions and 0.857 ppp for its 14 second chance possessions. UK had 0.750 ppp on its 76 first chance possessions and 1.833 ppp on its 6 second chance possessions. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed 18.8% of its misses as offensive rebounds while SOUTH CAROLINA was able to convert 32.6% of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.

UK hit poorly from the free throw line in this game, making 23-36 [63.9%]. SOUTH CAROLINA made 25-38 [65.8%] for the game. Field goal shooting for UK was 22-49 overall [44.9%] and 1-11 from long range [9.1%]. For SOUTH CAROLINA, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was a strong 18-38 [47.4%] and from long range, SOUTH CAROLINA hit 5-23 [21.7%].

The Cats committed 16 turnovers, one for every 4.8 possessions. The Cats forced 9 SOUTH CAROLINA turnovers, one for every 8.3 possessions.

Next Game On Schedule: Saturday night against Florida at Rupp at 8:15 pm for the nineteenth regular season game and seventh SEC game of the 2017-18 season.

Submitted by Richard Cheeks


Submitted by Richard Cheeks


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