Cats Face West Virginia In Morgantown For Big12-SEC Challenge

For the second week in a row, the Cats will be one of the teams featured on ESPN's College Game Day. Last week, the Game Day Crew gathered at Rupp Arena when the Cats hosted the Gators. Tomorrow, the Game Day Crew will be in Morgantown, West Virginia when Kentucky visits for the Big12-SEC challenge.

Kentucky has played West Virginia 20 times, winning 15 and losing 5 times. Since 1971, these teams have played 5 times, with the Cats winning 4. The only modern loss to the Mountaineers was in the 2010 NCAA Regional Final (Elite 8) in Calipari's first year at Kentucky. These teams have played twice in Morgantown. In 1941, the Cats fell to the Mountaineers by 12 and in 1971, the Cats got out of town with a 106-100 win.

#9 West Virginia brings a 16-4, 5-3 record into this game. After losing their season opener to #32 Texas A&M by 23 on a neutral court, the Mountaineers won their next 15 games, as they climbed into the top 10 ANE teams in the nation, and running off an early start 4-0 conference record. During this 15 game winning streak, West Virginia beat five top 50 teams, #4 Virginia by 7, #36 Missouri by 4, #33 Kansas State by 8, #18 Oklahoma by 13, and #42 Baylor by 3 points. Then, West Virginia hit on hard times losing 3 of their last 4 games. In this four game sequence, the Mountaineers lost at #10 Texas Tech, at home to #7 Kansas, and at #23 TCU. West Virginia's only win in the last four games was over #41 Texas by 35 in Morgantown last Saturday.

West Virginia has played with an ANE of 0.265 ppp (#9) after having played a schedule strength of 0.059 ppp (#33).

The Cats are ranked #40 with an ANE of 0.173 ppp after having played a schedule with a schedule strength of 0.072 ppp (#18). The ANE analysis has the Mountaineers favored by 11 points, 79-68 in a game played at a pace of 77 possessions. Pomeroy has the Mountaineers favored by 8, 79-71 with a pace of 73 possessions.

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Game Summary:

Coach Calipari will start Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Nick Richards, Kevin Knox, PJ Washington, and Hamidou Diallo. Jarred Vanderbilt, Wenyen Gabriel, Quade Green, and Sacha Killeya-Jones will provide the primary bench help and Tai Wynyard has returned to practice this week. For the first time this season, Coach Calipari has the full roster available for a game.

The Cats control the opening tip and immediately turn the ball over at mid court for a WVU run out lay up. The Cats start with 1-5 shooting, 2 turnovers, and poor ball handling while falling behind early by 7, 10-3, forcing Coach Calipari to take an early timeout with 16:33 left in the first half. The start is reminiscent of the start in November against Kansas. In that game, following Coach Calipari's early timeout, the team settled down and made it a competitive game.

During the timeout, Coach Calipari brings Wenyen Gabriel, Jarred Vanderbilt, and Quade Green into the game replacing PJ Washington and Nick Richards. After the timeout, the Cats commit their 3 rd turnover. However, Jarred Vanderbilt provides immediate help with assists on back to back UK fast break baskets to cut the lead to 3 points, 10-7 at the under 16 media timeout with 15:12 left. Sacha Killeya-Jones entered the game during the timeout. The Cats trimmed the lead to 1 point at 12-11, and again at 14-13 at the under 12 media timeout. West Virginia will have the ball after the timeout. During the timeout, the officials changed a basket to a 3 pointer, expanding the West Virginia lead to 2 points, 15-13. West Virginia made 1 of 2 from the line, and Hamidou Diallo commits the Cats' 6 th turnover. After a defensive stop Shai Gilgeous-Alexander commits the 7 th turnover on a charging call.

Even though West Virginia commits its 3 rd turnover, the Cats respond with their 8 th turnover. Following a missed 3 pointer by West Virginia, the Cats commit their nineth turnover. Following a West Virginia basket, the Cats commit their 10 th turnover, trailing by 5, 18-13. A pair of West Virginia free throws extend the lead to 7 points, 20-13 with 9:34 remaining in the game. Since the under 12 media timeout, the Cats have made 5 straight turnovers.

The Cats score back to back baskets to stop their turnover string, and trim the West Virginia lead to 1 point, 20-19. West Virginia gets a second chance basket at the under 8 media timeout with 7:32 left in the first half, with the Mountaineers leading by 3 points, 22-19. In the 4 th segment, the Mountaineers outscored the Cats 16-2 to blow this game wide open. At the under 4 media timeout, the West Virginia lead is 17 points, 38-21 with 3:18 left in the half, and Kevin Knox at the line for a pair of free throws. Thus far, the Cats have 11 turnovers, are shooting 37.5% including 1-6 from long range and 2-5 from the line. While both teams have 7 offensive rebounds, West Virginia has an advantage of 5-1 on second chance points.

Cats trail at the half by 15 points, 48-33.

The Cats scored 33 points on 36 possessions, 0.917 points per possession, and WEST VIRGINIA managed their 48 points on 35 possessions, 1.371 ppp. The Cats made 42.9% (12-28) of their first half shots, including 4-9 from outside the arc. WEST VIRGINIA managed to make 47.1% (16-34) of their first half shots, including 7-12 from outside the arc.

The Cats committed 11 turnovers in the first half while WEST VIRGINIA committed 3 turnovers.

The Cats made 5-11 from the line (44.4%) and WEST VIRGINIA made 9-12 from the line (75.0%).

On the Boards, West Virginia won the rebounding battle 21-20, and even though both teams grabbed 8 offensive rebounds, West Virginia won the second chance points by 7-4. The Cats secured 38.1% of their misses and allowed WEST VIRGINIA to grab 40.0% of their misses as second chance opportunities.

Second Half:

Kentucky opens the second half with a turnover when they fail to get the ball in bounds. After West Virginia misses, PJ Washington misses a layup, and West Virginia scores to go back on top by their game high 17 points. After trailing by 14, 54-37, the Cats scored the last 5 points of the opening segment to trim the West Virginia lead to 12 points, 54-42 on a 3 pointer by Kevin Knox and a pair of free throws by Hamidou Diallo on an intentional foul. However, on the ensuing inbounds play, Kevin Knox is called for a foul, turning the ball back over to West Virginia rather than having a free possession with a chance to whittle the lead by another 2 or 3 points.

On the inbounds play after the timeout, the Cats threw the ball over the press to Kevin Knox who attacked the basket and drawing a foul. His free throws trim the lead to 10 points. West Virginia turns the ball over, and the Cats cut the lead to 7 points with Hamidou Diallo 3 pointer from the right corner. West Virginia takes a timeout with 14:50 remaining. After the timeout, Kevin Knox makes another 3 pointer to cut the lead to 4. Back to back second chance baskets cuts the lead to 2 points, 56-54, and West Virginia takes another timeout with 12:01 remaining. We have a ballgame after all.

The Cats moved into the lead, and extended their lead to 4 points, 62-58. West Virginia answered with back to back 3 pointers to regain the lead. Following back to back UK turnovers, West Virginia moved out to a 4 point lead, 66-62 with 7:56 remaining, and Coach Calipari takes a timeout. Nick Richards stops the 8-0 West Virginia run with a pair of free throws. Nick Richards makes another pair of free throws to tie the score, 66-66 with 6:52 remaining to play.

Over the next 4 minutes and 22 seconds, the teams exchange baskets with the Cats leading or tied at 68 and 70. Then the Cats move on top by 2 on a difficult bank shot by Hamidou Diallo, and following a West Virginia miss, Kevin Knox draws a foul following an offensive rebound. That foul sent the game into the under 4 media timeout with 2:29 remaining, and Kevin Knox set for a pair of free throws.

Leading 74-71, the Cats turn the ball over, and West Virginia ties the game at 74-74 with a 3 pointer with 1:10 to play. Kevin Knox answers with a 3 pointer. West Virginia misses the front end from the line, and Nick Richards gets a second chance dunk to lift the Cats to their biggest lead of the game, 5 points, 79-74, with only 31 seconds left. West Virginia uses their next to last timeout. Then Coach Calipari burns a timeout.

West Virginia misses a 3 point attempt, and there is a battle for the rebound on the floor resulting in a tie up, with the arrow pointing in UK's direction with 19.5 seconds left on the clock. West Virginia fouls Quade Green with no time off the clock, and Quade Green makes both shots. West Virginia uses its final timeout with 19.5 seconds left on the clock and the Cats on top by 7, 81-74.

Cats beat West Virginia 83-76 after trailing by 15 at the half.


UK scored its 83 points on 68 possessions (1.221 ppp) for the game, and WEST VIRGINIA scored its 76 points on 66 possessions (1.152 ppp).

Kentucky won the battle of the boards, with a rebounding edge 49-34, and Kentucky controlled the offensive glass 20-17. Kentucky used its 20 second chance possessions to score 26 second chance points, and WEST VIRGINIA used its 17 second chance possessions to score 14 second chance points. WEST VIRGINIA had an offensive efficiency of 0.939 ppp on its 66 first chance possessions and 0.824 ppp for its 17 second chance possessions. UK had 0.838 ppp on its 68 first chance possessions and 1.300 ppp on its 20 second chance possessions. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed 54.1% of its misses as offensive rebounds while WEST VIRGINIA was able to convert 37.0% of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.

UK hit well from the free throw line in this game, making 23-29 [79.3%]. WEST VIRGINIA made 12-18 [66.7%] for the game. Field goal shooting for UK was 26-58 overall [44.8%] and 8-18 from long range [44.4%]. For WEST VIRGINIA, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was a weak 17-44 [38.6%] and from long range, WEST VIRGINIA hit 10-24 [41.7%].

The Cats committed 16 turnovers, one for every 4.2 possessions. The Cats forced 6 WEST VIRGINIA turnovers, one for every 11.0 possessions.

Next Game On Schedule: Tuesday night against Vanderbilt in the first rematch of the season at Rupp Arena at 9:00 pm for the 22 nd game of the season and the 9 th SEC game of 2018

Submitted by Richard Cheeks



Submitted by Richard Cheeks


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