BIG BLUE FANS FOR
The mantra for this time of year is “survive and advance” and that is precisely what the Kentucky Wildcats did on Thursday evening when they faced a tenacious group of Wildcats from Davidson, North Carolina. Many of the experts warned that the Cats in Blue and White should be placed on upset alert because David “son” was prepared to slay a giant. Many of those same experts penciled their favorite group of Wildcats, those from Arizona, in for a likely trip to the Final Four, giving neither Kentucky or Davidson any chance of sending Arizona home early.
Kentucky did its part by sending Davidson back to North Carolina with a 5 point loss. However, the Bulls from Buffalo had ideas of their own about Arizona. Arizona did not simply get upset, they were completely embarrassed. For only the second time since the NCAA expanded to at least 64 teams, a team entering a game as a double digit favorite lost a game by more than 20 points. Oh yes, the other team to suffer such humiliation was, yes, Arizona.
Enough said about Arizona.
Kentucky's next opponent will be those same Bulls from Buffalo that gored the Arizona Wildcats into submission. So, who exactly are these Bulls?
The Bulls will bring a 27-8 record into this NCAA Second Round game. Of course, there is no denying or ignoring what Buffalo did to Arizona on Thursday night, but it is also important, perhaps even more important, to consider what this team has done over the course of its full season of 35 games. The Buffalo schedule is less than competitive, having a strength of -0.003 ppp (#151). The Buffalo adjusted offensive efficiency has been 1.139 ppp, and its adjusted defensive efficiency has been 1.026 ppp. The average NCAA D1 offense and defense this season has been 1.042 ppp. In contrast, the Kentucky offensive and defensive efficiency have been 1.153 ppp and 0.950 ppp respectively. Kentucky's offense has been more efficient and the Kentucky defense has been much more efficient than Buffalo's.
The Kentucky Wildcats have faced the Buffalo Bulls only once prior to this game. That occurred at Rupp Arena during the 2014-15 season, and the Cats beat the Bulls by 19 points, 71-52.
The strong finish that the Cats have had has been a topic of regular discussion for the last 2 to 3 weeks. However, Buffalo has also finished the season strong as compared to the season averages. Kentucky's last 9 games have produced 8 wins and one loss, while playing at an average ANE over those nine games of 0.307 ppp as compared to the season average 0.207 ppp. Buffalo's season not only has a strong finish, but a transformational event with the mid-season addition of a player. After starting the season 7-5, Buffalo has finished the season 21-3, and have won their last 8 games. Following their 13 th game, Buffalo's ANE was 0.056 ppp, and by game 21, their ANE had climbed to 0.106 ppp. From that point of their season to their 28 th game, their ANE slipped to about 0.084 ppp. Then, with their current 8 game winning streak, the ANE has risen to a season high 0.118 ppp entering this game against Kentucky. During the last 8 games, Buffalo's ANE has averaged 0.234 ppp, which is significantly higher than their 0.118 season average.
Both teams are hot at the moment.
Kentucky is favored to beat Buffalo by 7 points, 80-73 in a game played at a pace of 74 possessions. Pomeroy sees this game in Kentucky's favor by 7 points, 84-77 at a pace of 73 possessionis. Vegas opened with Kentucky a 7 point favorite, but the Vegas line has been falling to the current 5 ½ points.
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.
Kentucky control the opening tip and fail to score. Buffalo scores on a give and go to get on the board first. The Cats tie the game at 2, and move into their first lead at 4-2. After Buffalo tied the game for a second time at 4, the Cats scored four straight for an 8-4 lead. Buffalo made 3 free throws off a foul by Kevin Knox to trim the lead to 1 point. Kevin Knox hit a jump shot from the right corner to give the Cats a 3 point lead, 10-7, at the under 16 media timeout. In the second segment, the Cats begin to build a lead, moving out to a 7 point lead, 18-11, at the under 12 media timeout, and PJ Washington will have a pair of free throws after the break. In the first 8 minutes, each team has had 15 possessions. Thc Cats have made 9 of their 14 shots and Buffalo has made 4 of its 16 shots.
In the third segment, the Cats established their biggest lead at 11 points. At the under 8 media timeout, Buffalo trimmed the lead to 9, 32-23 and will have free throws after the break with a chance to cut the lead to 7. Buffalo made 1 of 2 from the line, and after a Kentucky miss, Buffalo hit a 3 pointer to cut the lead to 5 points. The Cats and the Bulls trade baskets until Quade Green makes 1 of 2 from the line and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander makes a driving layup to move the Cats up by 8, 42-34, at the under 4 media timeout, and the Cats have possession.
After the break, Kevin Knox picks up his 3 rd foul of the game. Then a foul on Nick Richards sends Buffalo to the line again where they trim the lead back to 7 points. After Wenyen Gabriel makes a 3 point play on a second chance possession, Sacha Killeya-Jones is whistled for his 3 rd foul. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander makes 1 of 2 from the line to extend the UK lead to a game high 12 points, and following a basket by Buffalo, Wenyen Gabriel makes a 3 pointer to give the Cats a 13 point lead, 51-38. Buffalo trims 4 points from the lead in the final 1 ½ minutes and the Cats lead by 9, 51-42, at the half.
The largest lead of the first half was 13 points for the Cats and 2 points for Buffalo. There were 2 ties, and 1 lead change.
The Cats scored 51 points on 37 possessions, 1.378 points per possession, and BUFFALO managed their 42 points on 37 possessions, 1.135 ppp. The Cats made 55.9% (19-34) of their first half shots, including 3-7 from outside the arc. BUFFALO managed to make 35.1% (13-37) of their first half shots, including 5-17 from outside the arc.
The Cats committed 5 turnovers in the first half while BUFFALO committed 4 turnovers.
The Cats made 10-13 from the line (76.9%) and BUFFALO made 11-15 from the line (73.3%).
On the Boards, the Cats won the rebounding battle 21-19, but Buffalo controlled the offensive glass 11-7. Buffalo won the second chance points 14-8. The Cats secured 46.7% of their misses and allowed BUFFALO to grab 44.0% of their misses as second chance opportunities.
Buffalo opens the second half and fail to score. The Cats score the first 4 points of the half to move back out to a 13 point lead, 55-42, but Buffalo goes on a 8-1 run to pull within 6, 56-50, and Coach Calipari takes a quick timeout with 16:57 left in the game. After the timeout, the Cats close the opening segment with two more turnovers, 4 for the first 4 minutes of the second half. The Cats are clinging to a 6 point lead, 56-50, at the under 16 media timeout, and Buffalo has the ball. Sacha Killeya-Jones commits his 4 th foul and the two free throws trim the lead to 4 points. The Cats respond with a pair of 3 pointers, one by Wenyen Gabriel and one by Hamidou Diallo, but Buffalo hands within 5 points, 63-58, at the under 12 media timeout. After the timeout, the Cats will have the possession with 11:38 remaining in the game.
In the third segment, the Cats grind it out to another 10 point lead, 72-62, but Buffalo score a quick 5 points to trim the margin back to 5 points. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander makes a layup and is fouled at the under 8 media timeout, giving the Cats a 7 points lead, 74-67, and he will have a free throw after the timeout to complete his 3 point play. In the fourth segment, it was Hamidou Diallo time as he was the primary reason the Cats extended their lead to a game high 15 points, and lead by 15, 86-71, at the under 4 media timeout with 3:00 left on the game clock.
In the final segment, Wenyen Gabriel makes a 3 pointer, and the Cats get baskets from PJ Washington and Hamidou Diallo to move out to a 20 point lead, 93-73, and Buffalo takes a timeout with 1:41 left in the game.
The Cats finish the game with a 20 point win, 95-75.
UK scored its 95 points on 73 possessions (1.301 ppp) for the game, and BUFFALO scored its 75 points on 73 possessions (1.027 ppp).
Kentucky won the battle of the boards, with a rebounding edge 42-30, but Buffalo controlled the offensive glass 14-13. Kentucky used its 13 second chance possession to score 11 second chance points, and BUFFALO used its 14 second chance possessions to score 16 second chance points. BUFFALO had an offensive efficiency of 0.808 ppp on its 73 first chance possessions and 1.143 ppp for its 14 second chance possessions. UK had 1.151 ppp on its 73 first chance possessions and 0.846 ppp on its 13 second chance possession. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed 44.8% of its misses as offensive rebounds while BUFFALO was able to convert 32.6% of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.
UK made 16-23 (69.6%) from the free throw line in this game. BUFFALO made 16-22 [72.7%] for the game. Field goal shooting for UK was 36-64 overall [56.3%] and 7-15 from long range [46,6%]. For Buffalo, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was 19-36 [52.8%] and from long range, BUFFALO hit 7-31 [22.6%].
The Cats committed 13 turnovers, one for every 5.6 possessions. The Cats forced 10 BUFFALO turnovers, one for every 7.3 possessions.
Next Game On Schedule: The Cats will play next in the NCAA Tournament's Sweet 16 against either Kansas State or UMBC at a time to be determined in Atlanta.
Submitted by Richard Cheeks
Submitted by Richard Cheeks