2018-19 Season Analytical Writings

The Cats' Bad Habits Continue Their Slide.
Can They Reverse This Trend Against Tennessee State?

The first five games have provided my first benchmark reading for Kentucky basketball teams, and the 2018-19 five game benchmark is disappointing, to say the least. One year ago, Coach Calipari presented to the Big Blue Nation his weakest start of the Calipari Era at UK. One year ago today, the Cats' Adjusted Net Efficiency (ANE) was 0.145 points per possession (ppp) which was #63 in the nation, Based on that start, my examination of those tea leaves led to a conclusion that the 2017-18 Cats “should develop into a Sweet 16 type team by year-end. Such a team could advance to the Elite 8 before falling out, or exit early, in the Round of 32. A run at the championship in the Final 4 or an exit in the first round of the tournament is not a likely outcome for this team based on these historical relationships and results.” ( The 2017-18 Cats finished as the #17 most efficient team in the nation in the Sweet 16.

Big Blue Fans should buckle up for what lies ahead for this season based on these first five games, and the examination of the 2018-19 tea leaves. The Adjusted Net Efficiency through 5 games this season stands at 0.095 points per possession which is barely strong enough to remain in the top 100 rankings on Thanksgiving Day (#92). Without reliving the details of the initial 5 games of this season, suffice it to say that this team should develop into a Round of 32 type team by year-end. Such a team could advance to the Sweet 16 before falling out, or exit early, in the first round of play. A run at the Elite 8, much less a Final Four appearance is not a likely outcome for this team based on the historical relationships between how UK teams start and how they have finished from those starts.

Today, #303 Tennessee State comes into Rupp sporting a 2-3 overall, but their wins came at the expense of Carver NR (92-57) and Fisk NR (113-61). Tennessee State is 0-3 against D1 opposition losing at #77 Lipscomb by 7, to #159 Little Rock by 16, and at #273 Cal St. Northridge by 3. This produces an early season ANE of -0.158 ppp at an average pace of almost 79 possessions per game. In contrast, the #92 Cats bring an ANE of 0.095 ppp at an average pace of 74 possessions per game.

The ANE analysis indicates a Kentucky win by 24 points, 85-61, in a game played at a pace of 78 possessions. Pomeroy projects a 25 point Kentucky win over Tennessee State, 87-62, at a pace of about 73 possessions. Vegas has opened with the Cats favored by 28 points. For the reasons identified above, the primary focus on this game against Tennessee State is whether the final margin is 20 or less, or 35 or more at the final buzzer.

See how other UK fans handicap this game at 247Sports, The Cats Pause message board at:

You can participate in the score prediction contest at 247Sports at the following link:

Game Summary:

Following the poor game against Winthrop on Wednesday afternoon, Coach Calipari stays with the starting lineup of Nick Richards, PJ Washington, Keldon Johnson, Immanuel Quickley, and Tyler Herro to start the 6 th game of this season. Ashton Hagans, Reid Travis, E. J. Montgomery, and Quade Green will come off the bench. Jemarl Baker remains unavailable with knee issues.

Kentucky controls the opening tip and commits a turnover. TSU gets the first score of the game on its first possession, After trading baskets to a 5-5 tie, TSU scored the last 4 points of the segment to take an early 9-5 lead to the under 16 media timeout. TSU has managed this lead without trying to exploit Kentucky's heretofore major weakness of 3 point defense. TSU has not attempted a shot from outside the arc, and have made 4-7 shots from inside the arc.

After trailing by 6, 12-6, the Cats went on a run. The Cats get their first lead, 15-14, on their first 3 pointer of the night after 8 misses, by Tyler Herro with 8:50 left in the first half. The Cats continue their 13-2 run to a 19-14 lead at the under 8 media timeout. After the timeout, the Cats will have free throws. After making both free throws, TSU stops the run with a 3 point play to trim the lead to 21-17. After another 3 point miss, TSU trims the lead to 2 points on a second chance basket. Coach Calipari takes a timout with 7:09 left in the first half. Over the balance of the 4 th segment, the Cats manage to ease out to a 4 point lead, 26-22, at the under 4 media timeout.

In the final segment, the Cats move out to their largest lead, 8 points, 30-22, and TSU takes a timeout with 1:48 left in the half. The Cats move on to an 11 point lead, 35-24, but TSU ends the first half with a 3 point basket just ahead of the buzzer to trim the lead to 9 points at the half, 35-27. The Cats committed 5 turnovers, one for each 7.0 possessions. TSU committed 8 turnovers, 1 for each 4.4 possessions.

The Cats scored 35 points on 35 possessions, 1.000 points per possession, and TENNESSEE STATE managed their 27 points on 35 possessions, 0.771 ppp. The Cats made 33.3% of their first half shots, including 1-10 from outside the arc. TENNESSEE STATE managed to make 35.7% of their first half shots, including 2-5 from outside the arc.

The Cats made 16-20 free throws (80.0%) and TENNESSEE STATE managed to make 5-9 free throws (55.5%).

On the Boards, the Cats controlled the glass 21-17 overall, and Kentucky won the battle on the offensive glass 7-5. The Wildcats used its second chance possessions to outscore the TENNESSEE STATE 8-4 on second chance points. The Cats secured 36.8% of their misses and allowed TENNESSEE STATE to grab 26.3% of their misses as second chance opportunities.

Second Half:

TENNESSEE STATE opens the second half with a turnover. The Cats score the first 5 of the second half to move on top by 13, 40-27. At the under 16 media timeout, the Cats lead by 15, 47-32, and Keldon Johnson will have a pair of free throws after the break. After the Cats extend their lead to 17 points, TSU battles back and trims the lead to 14 at the under 12 media timeout, 56-42.

With 7:55 left in the game, the Cats established their first 20 point lead, 66-46, and lead by 18 at the under 8 media timeout with 7:16 left in the game. After this media timeout, the Cats will have a pair of free throws with a chance to move back on top by 20 points again. TSU trims the lead to 14, 70-56, and takes a timeout with 5:07 left in the game. Following the timeout, TSU goes to a full court press and forces back to back Kentucky turnovers, leading to a 3 pointer to trim the lead to 11 points, 70-59. Then TSU fouls Reid Travis and he missed the first of two free throws. At the under 4 media timeout, the Cats are holding on with a 14 point lead, 73-59.

Cats win by 15 points, 77-62.


UK scored its 77 points on 70 possessions (1.100 ppp) for the game, and TENNESSEE STATE scored its 62 points on 71 possessions (0.873 ppp).

Kentucky won the battle of the boards, with a rebounding edge 37-28, and Kentucky won the battle of the offensive glass 14-10. Kentucky used its 14 second chance possessions to score 18 second chance points, and TENNESSEE STATE used its10 second chance possessions to score12 second chance points. TENNESSEE STATE had an offensive efficiency of 0.704 ppp on its 71 first chance possessions and 1.200 ppp for its 12 second chance possessions. UK had 0.843 ppp on its 70 first chance possessions and 1.286 ppp on its 14 second chance possessions. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed 43.8%of its misses as offensive rebounds while TENNESSEE STATE was able to convert 30.3% of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.

UK hit poorly from the free throw line in this game, making 27-41 [65.9%]. TENNESSEE STATE made 12-19 [63.2%] for the game. Field goal shooting for UK was 23-52 overall [44.2%] and 4-15 from long range [26.7%]. For TENNESSEE STATE, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was 16-38 [42.1%] and from long range, TENNESSEE STATE hit 6-16 [37.5%].

The Cats committed 14 turnovers, one for every 5.0 possessions. The Cats forced 19 TENNESSEE STATE turnovers, one for every 3.7 possessions.

Next Game On Schedule: Wednesday evening, again at Rupp Arena, the Cats will take on Monmouth in the seventh regular season game of the 2018-19 season.

Submitted by Richard Cheeks


Submitted by Richard Cheeks


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