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On Tuesday night, the Cats played very well for about 27 minutes, overcoming an early 9 point deficit to build a 14 point lead at 54-40 with 12:21 remaining. Then, Frank Martin took a timeout. When play resumed, the bottom dropped out on the Cats as the Gamecocks took total control of the game. Over the final 12:21, and the Cats allowed South Carolina to outscore them 36-14 spanning 23 possessions.
During that span, ¼ of the UK possessions were at the free throw line, where prior to the Martin timeout, the Cats had made 18-24 (75%), but the Cats only made 5 of 12 attempts during the final 12 minutes. In addition, the Cats committed 3 turnovers, and made 4 of 15 shots, including 1-6 from outside the arc.
The Cats' bench got one player longer during the South Carolina game as Jarred Vanderbilt made his debut as a Wildcat, a long anticipated and greatly debated appearance. However, Quade Green and Tai Wynyard continued to sit due to back injuries. It appears that Jarred Vanderbilt will continue to get more playing time as he works his way back into playing condition. However, Coach Calipari indicated today that Quade Green's status for Saturday night will be a game time decision.
Therefore, the Cats limp back into Rupp Arena on Saturday night to host the league leading Florida Gators, and ESPN's College Game Day will sharpen the focus on the Wildcats-Gators battle at 8:15 pm.
FLORIDA brings a 13-5, 5-1 in the SEC record into Rupp. After starting their season with five straight wins, including a neutral court win over #6 Gonzaga. Then, the Gators lost a hard fought game to #3 Duke by 3, and that loss seemed to knock the Gators off their stride. Florida then lost three of their next 4 games to drop to 6-4. The post Duke losses were by 17 to #31 Florida State in Gainesville, by 6 points to #90 Loyola Chicago also in Gainesville, and to #17 Clemson by 2. The Gators then used back to back wins over Cupcakes James Madison and Incarnate Word at home to right their ship going into SEC competition with an 8-4 non-conference record.
In the SEC, the Gators have home wins over Vanderbilt by 7, Mississippi State by 17, and Arkansas by 15. On the SEC road, the Gators have two huge wins, at Texas A&M and Missouir, while dropping their game at Mississippi by 6. The Gators have played with an ANE of 0.203 ppp (#26) after having played a schedule strength of 0.072 ppp (#17).
The Cats are ranked #37 with an ANE of 0.178 ppp after having played a schedule with a schedule strength of 0.073 ppp (#16). The ANE analysis has the Cats favored by 2 point2, 76-74 in a game played at a pace of 74 possessions. Pomeroy has the Cats favored by 3, 76-73 with a pace of 75 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 Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Nick Richards, Kevin Knox, PJ Washington, and Hamidou Diallo. Jarred Vanderbilt, Wenyen Gabriel and Sacha Killeya-Jones will provide the primary bench help and Quade Green may be available for action for the first time in 4 games. Tai Wynyard remains injured.
The Cats control the opening tip and miss their first shot attempt. Florida scores first with a 3 pointer. After the Cats get on the board with a basket, Florida hits their second 3 pointer to move on top by 4, 6-2. The Cats catch up at 6-6, and again at 8-8, but Florida closes the scoring in the opening segment and lead 10-8 at the under 16 media timeout with 14:45 remaining. The Gators will have the ball under their own basket. The Cats defense holds and Wenyen Gabriel gets a 3 point play to give the Cats their first lead of the game, 11-10. After a Florida turnover, Wenyen Gabriel gets another basket on the block to lift the Cats up by 3. Florida answers with their third 3 pointer to tie the game. The Cats get the next 4 with a basket by Wenyen Gabriel and a put back basket by Jarred Vanderbilt. Florida trimmed the lead to 3 on 1 for 2 from the line, and Sacha Killeya-Jones fouled a 3 point shooter at the under 12 media timeout. Florida will have 3 free throws after the break. He made 2 of the 3 to cut the UK lead to 1 point, 17-16. Over the balance of the third segment, the teams each scored 4 points, as the Cats continue to cling to a 1 point lead, 21-20 at the under 8 media timeout with 7:22 remaining.
In the fourth segment, the Cats scored the first 7 to go on top 28-20, but from that point to the end of the first half, it was all Florida, with the Gators finishing the half on a 13-3 run fueled by 5 Kentucky turnovers and 0-6 shooting.
The Cats trail at the half, 33-31.
The Cats scored 31 points on 36 possessions, 0.861 points per possession, and FLORIDA managed their 33 points on 36 possessions, 0.917 ppp. The Cats made 40.6% (13-32) of their first half shots, including 0-6 from outside the arc. FLORIDA managed to make 34.4% (11-32) of their first half shots, including 3-13 from outside the arc.
The Cats committed 7 turnovers in the first half while FLORIDA committed 4 turnovers.
The Cats made 5-6 from the line (83.3%) and FLORIDA made 8-12 from the line (66.7%).
On the Boards, the Cats won the overall battle of the boards 22-18, and Kentucky won the offensive rebounding battle 5-4. However, the Cats converted its 5 second chance possessions into 2 points and FLORIDA used its 4 second chance possessions to score 3 points. The Cats secured 26.3% of their misses and allowed FLORIDA to grab 19.0% of their misses as second chance opportunities.
Kentucky opens the second half with a basket to tie the score. Florida and the Cats trade baskets to 37-37 and then the Gators score 8 straight forcing Coach Calipari to take a timeout with 15:24 remaining, down 45-37. After the timeout, the Cats commit their 10 th turnover of the game.
The Cats opened the game shooting 8-14 and no turnovers over the first 8 minutes, and since then, the Cats have shot 8-27, 0-8 from long range, and committed their 10 turnovers. 16 points in the last 37 possessions. After the Kentucky timeout, the Cats slowly claw back cutting the 8 point lead to 2 points, 45-43 with 11:46 remaining. Kentucky's last 4 points were second chance put back baskets by Sacha Killeya-Jones. Florida takes a timeout.
In the third segment, the Cats trim the lead to 1 point, 47-46, but Florida advances the lead back to 4 points, 51-47. Wenyen Gabriel makes the Cats first 3 pointer to trim the lead to a single point, 51-50 at the under 8 media timeout with 7:32 remaining in the game, and the Gators in possession of the ball. In the fourth segment, the Cats finally moved into the lead by 3 points, 56-53 on a 3 pointer by Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. However, the Gator trimmed the lead to 1 point and have the ball after the under 4 media timeout with 3:45 remaining in the game.
After the timeout, Florida must burn a timeout because the Cats would not allow the Gators to make the inbounds pass. The Gators have one timeout remaining and the Cats have two. When the Gators get the ball inbounds, they make a 3 pointer to go up by 2 points. PJ Washington scores to tie it, but the Gators go back up by 2. The Cats fail to match the score, and Florida goes up by 4, 62-58. Coach Calipari takes his next to last timeout with 1:52 remaining in the game. The Cats miss, and Florida goes on top by 6, 64-58 on a pair of free throws. Kevin Knox makes a 3 pointer to trim the lead to 3 points with 32 seconds left. Florida has to use its last timeout because it could not get the ball inbounds after the Cats' made basket.
The Cats foul after the Gators get the ball in bounds, and Florida makes both to lead by 5 points with 31 seconds left. Wenyen Gabriel makes a 3 pointer from the left corner to pull the Cats within 2 with 26 seconds left. Coach Calipari burns his last timeout.
The Cats foul with 20 seconds. The Gators miss the front end.
Cats lose 66-64.
UK scored its 64 points on 70 possessions (0.914 ppp) for the game, and FLORIDA scored its 66 points on 69 possessions (0.957 ppp).
Kentucky won the battle of the boards, with a rebounding edge 49-38, and Kentucky controlled the offensive glass 16-14. Kentucky used its 16 second chance possessions to score 12 second chance points, and FLORIDA used its 14 second chance possessions to score 12 second chance points. FLORIDA had an offensive efficiency of 0.783 ppp on its 69 first chance possessions and 0.857 ppp for its 14 second chance possessions. UK had 0.743 ppp on its 70 first chance possessions and 0.750 ppp on its 16 second chance possessions. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed 40.0% of its misses as offensive rebounds while FLORIDA was able to convert 29.8% of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.
UK hit poorly from the free throw line in this game, making 8-12 [66.7%]. FLORIDA made 16-25 [64.0%] for the game. Field goal shooting for UK was 26-65 overall [40.0%] and 4-17 from long range [23.5%]. For FLORIDA, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was a strong 16-36 [44.4%] and from long range, FLORIDA hit 6-30 [20.0%].
The Cats committed 16 turnovers, one for every 4.4 possessions. The Cats forced 7 FLORIDA turnovers, one for every 9.9 possessions.
Next Game On Schedule: Tuesday night against Mississippi State at Rupp at 9:00 pm for the twentieth regular season game and eighth SEC game of the 2017-18 season.
Submitted by Richard Cheeks
Submitted by Richard Cheeks