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2018-19 Season Analytical Writings
For the first time since August, a team worthy of the “KENTUCKY” scribed across the chest of the uniform appeared and played a game this season. After such a lackluster first two games against Duke and SIU, it was refreshing to witness the 38 point win on Wednesday night over the University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks, 96-58 at Rupp Arena. That single game elevated this team's year to date (3 games) Adjusted Net Efficiency (ANE) from a pathetic 0.034 ppp to about 0.150 ppp.
As we all know all too well, a single game does not establish a trend, or confirm a changed trajectory for a team, but the improved play was clearly a welcome occurrence, and the challenge now for this team is to build upon this game with more games displaying similar levels of proficiency.
The final margin in games such as this are important to maximize the team's efficiency values for the entire season, especially since the NCAA has finally abandoned the archaic, nonsensical RPI system in favor of efficiency based analytics beginning with the 2019 NCAA Tournament Seedings. The only way these Cats can minimize the impact of their lackadaisical showings against Duke and SIU will be to maximize game margins in all future games.
Based on early season game outcomes, Kentucky's next opponent, VMI, is the weakest team on the 2018-19 schedule with a current ANE ranking of #330 and an ANE of -0.281 ppp. The ANE analysis indicates a Kentucky win by 40 points, 97-57 in a game played at a pace of 76 possessions. Pomeroy projects a 30 point Kentucky win over VMI, 91-61, at a pace of about 73 possessions. Vegas has opened with the Cats favored by 32 ½ points. For the reasons identified above, the primary focus on Sunday's game against VMI is whether the final margin is 30 or less, or 40 or more at the final buzzer.
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Off a strong game against UND on Wednesday, Coach Calipari changes the starting lineup inserting E. J. Montgomery for Reid Travis, and alongside PJ Washington, Keldon Johnson, Immanuel Quickley, and Tyler Herro to start the 4 th game of this season. Ashton Hagans. Reid Travis, Nick Richards, and Quade Green will come off the bench. Jemarl Baker remains unavailable with knee issues.
VMI controls the opening tip and miss on the block after using nearly the entire shot clock. Keldon Johnson opens the scoring with a 3 pointer, but VMI matches the score with a triple of its own. After each team misses their 2 nd three point attempt, Tyler Herro makes the second 3 pointer by the Cats. After PJ Washington gets a second chance basket, VMI draws to within 2 points, 8-6 with their 2 nd three pointer just before the under 16 media timeout. In the second segment, VMI moves into the lead, 18-16 at the under 12 media timeout on the strength of 4-4 shooting from outside the arc in this segment.
In the third segment, VMI continues to hang with the Cats with great shooting. The score is tied, 24-24 at the under 8 media timeout with 7:12 left in the first half. In the 4 th segment, the Cats finished with the last 8 points to extend a lead to 9 points, 38-29, at the under 4 media timeout.
The Cats lead at the half by 14, 48-34.
The Cats scored 48 points on 35 possessions, 1.371 points per possession, and VMI managed their 34 points on 36 possessions, 0.944 ppp. The Cats made 41.7% of their first half shots, including 3-10 from outside the arc. VMI managed to make 41.4% of their first half shots, including 7-16 from outside the arc.
The Cats made 15-18 free throws (83.3%) and VMI managed to make 3-3 free throws (100.0%).
On the Boards, the Cats controlled the glass 27-11 overall, and Kentucky won the battle on the offensive glass 15-3. The Wildcats used its second chance possessions to outscore the Fighting Hawks 16-0 on second chance points. The Cats secured 65.2% of their misses and allowed VMI to grab 20.0% of their misses as second chance opportunities.
Kentucky opens the second half with a quick basket and at the under 16 media timeout, the Cats lead by 16, 56-40. In the second segment, VMI keeps pace with the Cats with 3-4 shooting from long range, and 4-6 shooting overall. Cats lead by 14, 65-51 at the under 12 media timeout. At the under 8 media timeout, the Cats are still holding on to an 11 point lead, 74-63.
VMI continues its torrid shooting and when they trim the one time 19 point lead to 7, 79-72, Coach Calipari takes a timeout with 4:20 left in the game. At the under 4 media timeout, the official scorer changed a VMI 2 point basket to a 3 point basket, adding a point to their total, so the Cats lead by 10, 83-73 at the under 4 media timeout with 2:43 left on the clock. After VMI makes 2 more three pointers to trim the lead to 6 points, 85-79, Coach Calipari takes a timeout with 1:38 left in the game. Cats win 92-82.
UK scored its 92 points on 69 possessions (1.333 ppp) for the game, and VMI scored its 82 points on a total of 70 possessions (1.171 ppp).
Kentucky won the battle of the boards, with a rebounding edge 43-22, and Kentucky won the battle of the offensive glass 18-6. Kentucky used its 18 second chance possessions to score 23 second chance points, and VMI used its 6 second chance possessions to score 3 second chance points. VMI had an offensive efficiency of 1.129 ppp on its 70 first chance possessions and 0.500 ppp for its 6 second chance possessions. UK had 1.000 ppp on its 69 first chance possessions and 1.278 ppp on its 18 second chance possessions. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed 52.9%of its misses as offensive rebounds while VMI was able to convert 19.4% of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.
UK hit well from the free throw line in this game, making 29-35 [82.9%]. VMI made 5-5 [100.0%] for the game. Field goal shooting for UK was 29-59 overall [49.2%] and 5-14 from long range [35.7%]. For VMI, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was 10-24 [41.7%] and from long range, VMI hit 19-38 [50.0%].
The Cats committed 11 turnovers, one for every 6.3 possessions. The Cats forced 13 VMI turnovers, one for every 5.4 possessions.
Next Game On Schedule: Wednesday afternoon, again at Rupp Arena, the Cats will take on Winthrop in the fifth regular season game of the 2018-19 season.
Submitted by Richard Cheeks
Submitted by Richard Cheeks