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2018-19 Season Analytical Writings
Last Sunday evening, Coach Calipari raised the curtain on his 2019-20 Wildcats and they beat the defending NAIA National Champion Georgetown Tigers 80-53.
That is a run of 20-5 for the Tigers, spanning 7 minutes.
Some observers are pleased any time the Cats win any game by a 27 point margin. Others, including this observer, are not impressed by the mere margin, but find concern in the defensive lapse that allowed Georgetown to score 20 points in a 7 minute span, and the absence of toughness on the boards. In addition to the scoring, the Cats' performance in this opening game on the boards was worrisome at best. The Cats' players are taller and should command control on the boards against any NAIA opponent, yet Georgetown out rebounded these Cats at both ends of the floor. Georgetown won the battle of the boards 45-39, and most alarming, the Tigers won the battle on the offensive glass 16-6.
Yes, Big Blue Fans, Georgetown missed a lot more shots (16-64 shooting) than the Cats (30-61 shooting), giving the Tigers 17 more offensive rebounding opportunities than the Cats. However, the Cats grabbed 6 of their 31 misses while Georgetown grabbed 16 of their 48 misses. Grabbing 1 of every 5 misses while allowing an opponent to grab 1 in every 3 misses is not the relationship on the offensive glass that a “tough” team should allow.
Prior to the exhibition game against Georgetown, Coach Calipari identified the issue he wants to see this group of Cats demonstrate on the floor, Toughness!!!! It should be clear to any objective observer that this team did not demonstrate a level of toughness that should please the coaches or a level of toughness that they must possess when they face the consensus #1 Michigan State next Tuesday night..
On an individual level, four Cats posted numbers worthy of members on a legitimate championship contender. Immanuel Quickley, Nate Sestina, Ashton Hagans, and Nick Richards had individual game efficiencies (game grades) above 0.25 points per possession ended. Two other Cats, Johnny Juzang and Tyrese Maxey had individual efficiency levels that are positive. However, Keino Brooks, E. J. Montgomery, and Kahlil Whitney each graded below zero. Add to this profile of the 9 players who must get it done this season, Nick Richards went down after about 15 minutes of action with a lower leg injury, and his status moving forward remains uncertain.
The exhibition games serve a very important purpose: To identify areas of the game that the team must fix prior to starting the regular season schedule. On Friday night, Coach Calipari and his staff will put into effect these improvements and points of emphasis when the Cats face Kentucky State for the second exhibition game of the year. Clearly, Calipari's teams usually demonstrate an ability to climb a rather steep learning curve between their first and second exhibition games, and there is no reason to believe that trend will not occur again this season. For that reason, we should expect to see more toughness, stronger board work, improved overall defense, and improved offensive efficiency.
Over the past 9 seasons, the Cats have averaged a 43-point victory over its first exhibition opponent (98-55) and for those same previous nine (9) seasons, the Cats have improved between their first and second exhibition games to a 60-point average margin (114-54). These exhibition game next Friday are about effort and improvement, and the measuring stick is the margin of victory and the degree of improvement between the first and second starts.
This year, based on how prior exhibition games have played out and the relative strength of Kentucky State, this game shapes up to be a 56-point game, 111-55 if the Cats are on par with the previous nine Calipari led teams at the end of October.
Pre-game reports indicate Nick Richards will not be available tonight due to the ankle injury he sustained on Sunday in the Kentucky State game. Coach Calipari starts lineup Tyrese Maxey, Ashton Hagans, Nate Sestina, E. J. Montgomery, and Kahlil Whitney. Immanuel Quickley, Johnny Juzang, and Keino Brooks will come off the bench tonight. Nick Richards joins Dontaie Allen on the disabled list.
Kentucky State controls the opening tip which is the second time in two starts that the Cats have not controlled the opening tip. Both teams miss on their first possessions until Kahlil Whitney makes a 3 point play. At the under 16 media timeout, with 14:11 left, the Cats lead 10-3. In the second segment, the lead remains 7 points, 14-7, at the under 12 media timeout.
In the third segment, Kentucky State trimmed the lead to 6, 19-13, but the Cats ran off the next 6 points, prompting a KSU timeout with 7:15 left and the Cats on top by 12, 25-13. The Cats lead by 17, 33-16, at the under 4 media timeout with 2:55 left.
Kentucky leads 44-20 at the half.
The Cats scored 44 points on 38 possessions, 1.158 points per possession, and Kentucky State managed their 20 points on 37 possessions, 0.540 ppp. The Cats made 54.8% (17-31) of their first half shots, including 4-10 (40.0%) from outside the arc. Kentucky State was limited to only 22.2% shooting in the first half but managed to make 3-14 shots from long range (21.4%) and only 3-13 (23.1%) from inside the arc.
The Cats made 6-9 free throws (66.7%) and Kentucky State managed to make 5-8 (62.5%) free throws.
On the Boards, the Cats won the glass 19-15 overall, but the KSU matched the Cats on the offensive glass, 5-5 and a 3-3 on second chance points.. The Cats secured 33.37% of their misses and limited Kentucky State to only 26.3% of their misses as second chance opportunities. The Cats committed 7 turnovers, one for each 5.4 possessions while Kentucky State committed 12 turnovers, one for each 3.1 possessions.
Cats open the second half with a turnover, and after a few more empty possessions, the Cats extend their 24 point half time lead to 28 points, 51-23, forcing KSU to take a timeout. In the second segment, the Cats lead by 27, 53-26, at the under 12 media timeout.
In the third segment, KSU uses a pair of UK turnovers to trim the lead to 26 points, Coach Calipari calls a timeout with 8:40 left in the game. In the 4 th segment, KSU trimmed the lead to more with back to back 3 pointers that trimmed the lead to 56-41. At that point, Johnny Juzang hit back to back 2 pointers, and another pair of basket propelled the Cats to a 29 point lead, 72-43, at the under 4 media timeout with 3:39 left in the game.
Cats win 83-51.
UK scored its 83 points in a total of 81 possessions (1.024 ppp) for the game, and Kentucky State scored its 51 points on a total of 81 possessions (0.630 ppp).
Kentucky won the battle of the boards, with a rebounding edge 43-33, and Kentucky won the battle of the offensive glass 9-5. Kentucky used its 9 second chance possessions to score 6 second chance points, and Kentucky State used its 5 offensive rebounds to score 4 second chance points. Kentucky State had an offensive efficiency of 0.580 ppp on its 81 first chance possessions and 0.800 ppp for its 5 second chance possessions. UK had 0.951 ppp on its 81 first chance possessions and 0.167 ppp on its 9 second chance possessions. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed a weak 24.3% of its misses as offensive rebounds while Kentucky State was able to convert 12.8% of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.
UK hit poorly from the free throw line in this game, making 9-15 [60.0%]. Kentucky State made 15-22 [68.2%] for the game. Field goal shooting for UK was 34-69 overall [49.3%] and 6-22 from long range [27.3%]. For Kentucky State, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was 6-25 [24.0%] and from long range, Kentucky State hit 8-29 [27.6%].
The Cats committed 13 turnovers, one for every 6.2 possessions. The Cats forced 22 Kentucky State turnovers, one for every 3.7 possessions.
Next Game On Schedule: Tuesday night for the Champions Classic in MSG against #1 Michigan State in the first game of the 2019-20 regular season.
Submitted by Richard Cheeks
Submitted by Richard Cheeks