BIG BLUE FANS FOR
2018-19 Season Analytical Writings
On Tuesday night, the LSU Tigers brought the Kentucky win streak to an end at 10 games, but that was not the only cost of that loss. For the first time since the 7 th game of the season, this Kentucky team's progress, climbing the ranks of college basketball's elite toward a serious run at #9 reversed course, Furthermore, for the first time this SEC season, Kentucky's ability to win the SEC regular season title, one of the standards against which all Kentucky basketball teams are measured, has been removed from the Cats' own hands.
The Cats can still finish ahead of consensus #1 Tennessee by defeating them twice and winning all other games. However, that alone will not be sufficient to secure a the SEC title in 2019 because the home loss to LSU places LSU in the driver's seat, and for the Cats to secure this SEC Championship, LSU must lose twice over the next 6 games.
A home loss to a contender is usually such a significant event that it alone eliminates a team from a championship race, especially when the loss occurs to a team that is only on the schedule that one time during the season. Therefore, from a practical perspective, the Cats are now playing in the SEC for the #2 seed, and the most direct route from Tuesday's home loss to LSU to the #2 seed in the SEC Tournament is to defeat Tennessee twice, which would also drop the Vols to the #3 spot. Given the gap that currently exists between the top 3 teams in the SEC and any other team with a punchers chance to secure the 4 th double bye this season, it is unlikely that LSU, Tennessee or Kentucky will occupy the #4 spot when the SEC Tournament begins.
The schedule makers sure seem to anticipate these scenarios when they put together a schedule that has the Cats playing LSU and Tennessee on consecutive games past the mid-point of the SEC season. Tomorrow night, on one of the brightest and most prestigious stages that college basketball offers, it will be Tennessee and Kentucky. That big stage will be further illuminated by the college game day lights and presence.
#5 TENNESSEE brings an impressive 23-1, 11-0 record into Rupp Arena. Despite their #5 (ANE) ranking based on efficiency to date, Tennessee is the #1 college basketball team in both major wire service polls again this week. Tennessee's solitary loss occurred on November 23 to #17 Kansas by 6 points, 87-81, in OT. Since that loss, Tennessee has won 19 consecutive basketball games. Kansas is one of two non-conference opponents in common with Kentucky, and while Tennessee lost to the Jayhawks on a neutral court, the Cats defeated Kansas by 8 points at Rupp. The second common non-conference opponent has been #14 Louisville. Tennessee defeated Louisville on a neutral court in November by 11 points while the Cats defeated Louisville at the YUM center by 13 points.
In SEC play, the Volunteers have been perfect while the Cats have dropped two games, at #54 Alabama by 2 points, and to #19 LSU by 2 at Rupp. Tennessee defeated Alabama by 3 points in Knoxville and has not played LSU yet, and will only do so once this season.
As you may recall, prior to the LSU game this week, I pointed out that LSU was no stranger to 1 or 2 possession ball games, having played in 9 (10 now), winning 6 (7 now) and dropping 3 while the Cats had been in only 4 such games this season (5 now), winning 2 and losing 2 (3 now). Tennessee enters this game having played in 4 games decided by 2 possessions or less, winning 3 and losing 1. The Vols last played a close game in January in Nashville when it needed overtime to beat winless Vanderbilt by 5 and could only manage a 3-point win in their previous game against Alabama. Since the Vanderbilt OT win, the Vols have won six consecutive games by at least 12 points.
With this backdrop setting the stage, Tennessee will confront the Cats at Rupp, trying to hand the Cats a rare back to back home loss.
The Volunteers schedule has a SOS value of 0.0531 ppp (#38). The TENNESSEE ANE for the season stands at 0.309 ppp and their ANE over the last 5 games is 0.303 ppp.
The Cats' schedule has a SOS value of 0.0803 ppp (#30). The Cats' ANE for the season stands at 0.287 ppp, their season ANE since game 7 has been 0.351 ppp, and their ANE over the last 5 games is 0.392 ppp.
The ANE analysis based on Kentucky's ANE since game 7 indicates a Kentucky margin of 7 points, 77-70, in a game played at a pace of 70 possessions. As a matter of record, the traditional ANE analysis indicates a 2 ½ point Kentucky advantage and a “last 5” analysis indicates a UK advantage of 10 ½ points. Pomeroy has this game as a 2 point Kentucky win, 74-72, at a pace of 66 possessions, and Vegas has opened with the Cats a 3 point favorite.
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:
Coach Calipari stays with Ashton Hagans, Reid Travis, PJ Washington, Keldon Johnson, and Tyler Herro to start the 18 th game of this season. Immanuel Quickley, Nick Richards, E. J. Montgomery, and Jemarl Baker will come off the bench.
Kentucky controls the opening tip and turns the ball over on an offensive foul against P J Washington. Tennessee gets on the score board first, but the Cats ease into a 1 point lead with a 3 pointer by P J Washington. Over the balance of the opening segment, the score is P J Washington 7 and Tennessee 4 at the under 16 media time out, and Tennessee has the ball.
The second tv segment of the game spanned nearly 9 minutes of clock time as the Cats used 3-7 3 point shooting during the segment to move out to an 8 point lead, 23-15 before Tennessee trimmed the lead to 5 at the under 12 media time out with only 6:25 left in the first half. The next segment is only 10 seconds in length with the stoppage due to a foul on a Tennessee player and 6:15 left in the first half for the under 8 media time out.
In the short 4 th segment, Tennessee trimmed the lead to 4 points, 25-21, but a baseline jump shot by Tyler Herro and a steal/layup by Ashton Hagans extended the Cats' lead back to the game high 8 points, 29-21, at the under 4 media time out with 3:56 left in the first half, and the Cats in possession of the ball.
After establishing the 8 point lead a 4 th time, 31-23, the Cats allowed a Tennessee basket following a pair of offensive rebounds and a steal that led to a layup to trim the lead to only 4 points, 31-27. Coach Calipari takes a timeout with 1:43 left in the first half. After the teams trade baskets to a 35-31 score, Coach Calipari takes a timeout with 11 seconds left, and the Cats manage a final score just before the buzzer to lead by 6 at the half, 37-31.
The Cats scored 37 points on 28 possessions, 1.321 points per possession, and TENNESSEE managed their 31 points on 27 possessions 1.148 ppp. The Cats made 59.3% of their first half shots, including 4-9 from outside the arc. TENNESSEE managed to make 46.7% of their first half shots, including 3-11 from outside the arc.
The Cats made 1-4 free throws (25.0%) and TENNESSEE did not shoot a free throw in the first half.
Kentucky committed 5 turnovers to 2 by the Volunteers.
On the Boards, the Cats controlled the glass 17-11 overall, and Kentucky won the offensive glass 6-5. Tennessee won the second chance points 8-7. The Cats secured 50.0% of their misses and allowed TENNESSEE to grab 31.3% of their misses as second chance opportunities.
Kentucky opens the second half with a hook shot basket by P J Washington, and following a Tennessee turnover, Tyler Herro makes a 3 pointer from the left corner to extend the Cats' lead to 11 points, 42-31, forcing a Tennessee time out with 19:07 remaining in the game. After the timeout, Tennessee turned the ball over again, and Reid Travis makes two free throws to extend the lead to 13 points. The Cats continue to bury the Vols and Tennessee takes another timeout with 16:30 left and the Cats' lead standing at 20 points, 51-31. After the time out, Tennessee stops the Kentucky run with a pair of free throws to trim the lead to 18 points, 51-33, at the under 16 media time out with 15:50 left in the game. In the second segment, the Cats extended their lead to a game high 24 points, 62-38, at the under 12 media time out with 11:25 remaining and Tennessee in possession of the ball.
In the third segment, it has been all Tennessee, as they cut into the 24 point lead and reduce it to only 13 points with 9:33 left in the game. Coach Calipari takes a timeout.
After the timeout, Tennessee trims the lead to 11 points before the Cats can stop the run at 13 points. At the under 8 media time out, the Cats extend the lead back to 15 points, 68-53 with 6:45 left on the clock, and Tyler Herro will have a free throw after the timeout.
In the 4 th segment, the Cats maintain the lead at 13 points, leading 71-58 at the under 4 media time out with 3:51 left in the game, and Ashton Hagans will be at the line for free throws after the time out.
Cats win 86-69.
UK scored its 86 points on 68 possessions (1.265 ppp) for the game, and TENNESSEE scored its 69 points on 68 possessions (1.015 ppp).
Kentucky won the battle of the boards 39-26, and Kentucky won the battle of the offensive boards with a rebounding edge 12-9. Kentucky won the second chance point battle 17-14. TENNESSEE had an offensive efficiency of 0.809 ppp on its 68 first chance possessions and 1.556 ppp for its 9 second chance possessions. UK had 1.015 ppp on its 68 first chance possessions and 1.417 ppp on its 12 second chance possessions. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed 41.4% of its misses as offensive rebounds while TENNESSEE was able to convert 25.0% of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.
UK made 23-33 (69.7%) from the free throw line in this game. TENNESSEE made 14-18 [77.8%] for the game. Field goal shooting for UK was 29-53 overall [54.7%] and 5-13 from long range [38.5%]. For TENNESSEE, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was 17-34 [50.0%] and from long range, TENNESSEE hit 7-25 [28.0%].
The Cats committed 11 turnovers, one for every 6.2 possessions. The Cats forced 9 TENNESSEE turnovers, one for every 7.6 possessions.
Next Game On Schedule: Tuesday evening against Missouri in Columbis for the twenty sixth regular season game and the 13 th game of the 2019 SEC season.
Submitted by Richard Cheeks
Submitted by Richard Cheeks