BIG BLUE FANS FOR
After a lackluster first 26 games, Coach Calipari's Cats turned an important corner, finishing the season 7-1 and winning another SEC Tournament Championship on route to a #5 seed in the NCAA's South Region. On Thursday night, the Wildcats clad in blue and white will fact a group of Wildcats dressed in red from Davidson College. Davidson has also finished their 2017-18 season with a strong foot forward, winning 8 of their last 9 games after struggling to an unimpressive 13-10 record. We can be certain that Wildcats will advance to the second round where they are likely to encounter another group of Wildcats, of the Arizona type, and the question is will it be red ones playing the red/blue version or blue ones playing the red/blue version from Arizona.
The Kentucky Wildcats have faced the Davidson Wildcats only once prior to this game. That occurred in the NCAA Tournament in 1986 in the first round, and the Cats from Kentucky beat the Cats from Davidson by 20 points, 75-55.
Granted, Davidson has finished strong, but few teams, including Davidson have been playing any better basketball over the last 8 games than the Kentucky Wildcats, posting an average ANE of 0.319 ppp, which is considerably higher than the team's season long average ANE of 0.208 ppp. In contrast, Davidson has played its final games at an average ANE of 0.214 ppp, which is higher than its season long ANE 0.164 ppp.
Since I am attached to my “numbers” at the hip, I will remain true to form and report that based on these numbers, Kentucky is favored to beat Davidson by 4 points, 74-70. Pomeroy sees this game in Kentucky's favor by 3 points, 73-70, and Vegas has the Cats favored by 5 ½ points as of Tuesday. However, based on the recent performance by both teams as their seasons moved toward this moment, these limited scope numbers indicate a Kentucky win over the Davidson Wildcats by 7. If the Cats win by 7 or more points, I believe it is a fair reading that the Kentucky surge is continuing to unfold.
Use the following link to see how other UK fans handicap this game at 247Sports, The Cats Pause message board:
You can participate in the score prediction contest at 247Sports at the following link:
Jarred Vanderbilt sitting with an ankle injury. Coach Calipari will start Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Nick Richards, Kevin Knox, Wenyen Gabriel, and Hamidou Diallo against Alabama. PJ Washington, Sacha Killeya-Jones, and Quade Green represent the experienced bench tonight.
The Kentucky Wildcats control the opening tip and turn it over. After a Davidson turnover, the Cats move into the early lead. Davidson move on top 5-4 with a 3 pointer, and then 8-6 with another 3 pointer before the Cats get the final 4 points of the opening segment to lead 10-8 at the under 16 media timeout. The Cats committed 3 turnovers in their first 9 possessions. In the second segment, the Cats played with a 1 to 3 point lead until Davidson made its 3 rd 3 pointer of the game to tie the score, 17-17, at the under 12 media timeout with 10:59 left on the clock. The Cats will have the ball after the break.
In the third segment, the Cats got a 3 point play from PJ Washington and a layup by Hamidou Diallo to move ahead of Davidson by 5, 22-17, at the under 8 media timeout. Davidson will have the ball after this timeout. In the fourth segment, the Cats continued their 5-0 run from the last segment to a 13-2 run to extend their lead to 11 points, 30-19. The Cats lead by 11, 32-21 and have the ball at the under 4 media timeout.
In the final segment, the Cats extend their lead to 13, but Davidson trimmed 3 points off the UK lead to trail by only 8 points at the half, 34-24.
The largest lead of the first half was 13 points for the Cats and 2 points for Davidson. There 1 tie and 3 lead changes.
The Cats scored 34 points on 32 possessions, 1.063 points per possession, and DAVIDSON managed their 24 points on 32 possessions, .750 ppp. The Cats made 53.6% (15-28) of their first half shots, including 0-3 from outside the arc. DAVIDSON managed to make 29.4% (10-34) of their first half shots, including 3-15 from outside the arc.
The Cats committed 6 turnovers in the first half while DAVIDSON committed 3 turnovers.
The Cats made 4-6 from the line (66.7%) and DAVIDSON made 1-1 from the line (100.0%).
On the Boards, the Cats won the rebounding battle 21-14, but Davidson controlled the offensive glass 5-3. Davidson won the second chance points 5-3. The Cats secured 25.0% of their misses and allowed DAVIDSON to grab 21.7% of their misses as second chance opportunities.
Davidson opens the second half and get a quick easy basket to trim the lead to 8 points. After Sacha Killeya-Jones makes a pair of free throws, Davidson makes a 3 pointer to cut the lead to 7. After a Kentucky dry possession, Davidson makes a free throw to cut the lead to 6, 36-30. After the teams traded baskets, Davidson hit their 3 rd 3 pointer of the second half to cut UK's lead to 3 points, 41-38, at the under 16 media timeout. In the first 4 minutes, Davidson has made all 5 of its shots including 3-3 from outside the arc while the Cats have made on 2 of 6 shots. Since leading 34-21 with about 3 minutes left in the first half, the Cats have been outscored 17-7.
Kevin Knox was fouled just before the under 16 media timeout, and after the break made 1 of 2 from the line to ease back on top by 4 points. The Cats move out by 6 before Davidson trims it back to 3 points again with their 4 th 3 pointer of the second half. The Cats 7 th turnover takes the game to the under 12 media timeout with the score 46-43 and Davidson in possession after the break.
In the third segment, Davidson keep chipping away, and when the cut the one time UK 13 point lead to 1 point, 50-49, Coach Calipari takes a timeout with 9:55 left in the game. After the Cats ease back on top by 3, 52-49, Davidson catches up at 52-52 with another 3 pointer. The Cats move back on top by 2 but Davidson ties again 54-54 at the under 8 media timeout with 7:12 left in the game. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander will have a pair of free throws after the break.
The Cats claw back to a 5 point lead, and Davidson answers with a basket to trim it back to 3 at the under 4 media timeout with 3:17 left in the game. The Cats lead 61-58, and PJ Washington will be at the line for the 1+1 free throw after the break. He missed the front end. Davidson makes 1 of 2 free throws at the other end to trim the lead to 2, and then Kevin Knox makes a pair of free throws and baseline jump shot to give the Cats a 6 point lead. The Cats finish the game with a 5 point win, 78-73.
UK scored its 78 points on 69 possessions (1.130 ppp) for the game, and DAVIDSON scored its 73 points on 70 possessions (1.043 ppp).
Kentucky won the battle of the boards, with a rebounding edge 36-28, but Davidson controlled the offensive glass 8-6. Kentucky used its 6 second chance possession to score 5 second chance points, and DAVIDSON used its 8 second chance possessions to score 8 second chance points. DAVIDSON had an offensive efficiency of 0.929 ppp on its 70 first chance possessions and 1.000 ppp for its 8 second chance possessions. UK had 1.058 ppp on its 69 first chance possessions and 0.833 ppp on its 6 second chance possession. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed 23.1% of its misses as offensive rebounds while DAVIDSON was able to convert 21.1% of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.
UK made 26-32 (81.3%) from the free throw line in this game. DAVIDSON made 14-17 [82.4%] for the game. Field goal shooting for UK was 26-51 overall [51.0%] and 0-6 from long range [0.0%]. For Davidson, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was 13-28 [46.4%] and from long range, DAVIDSON hit 11-33 [33.3%].
The Cats committed 10 turnovers, one for every 6.9 possessions. The Cats forced 9 DAVIDSON turnovers, one for every 7.7 possessions.
Next Game On Schedule: The Cats will play next in the NCAA Tournament's second round against either Buffalo or Arizona at a time and place to be determined.
Submitted by Richard Cheeks
Submitted by Richard Cheeks