2019-20 Season Analytical Writings

Cats Take Their Undefeated SEC Record To South Carolina

The Cats have completed ½ of their 31-game regular season schedule with a 12-3 record and a 3-0 start in the SEC. The next challenge for the Cats will take the form of a two game SEC road swing, first at South Carolina on Wednesday and then at Arkansas on Saturday. The formula for winning conference championships is to hold serve in the 9 home games and win a majority of the 9 conference road games. To stay on pace with this formula, the Cats need at least 1 win from this two-game road trip, and frankly a pair of wins would go a long way toward another SEC regular season title in 2020.

South Carolina enters this game with an 8-7 record, 0-2 in the SEC. After a 8-4 start that ended with back to back road wins at #80 Clemson by 13 and at #19 Virginia by 11, the Gamecocks have lost their last three games. South Carolina's most impressive wins thus far this season have been over Clemson with a game ANE of 0.36 ppp and over Virginia with a game ANE of 0.48 ppp. Among South Carolina's 7 losses, the most inexplicable loss came at home against #305 Stetson by 7 with a game ANE of -0.31 ppp. South Carolina's current ANE is an impressive 0.057 ppp against a schedule strength of 0.013 ppp and a tempo of 71.0 possessions per game.

The Cats bring an ANE of 0.199 ppp into this game having played a schedule strength of 0.028 ppp at a tempo of 69.5 possessions per game.

Based on this data for these teams, an ANE analysis indicates this game will have a tempo of 70 possessions with the Cats winning by 6 points, 71-65.

It is intuitively clear than not all 6-point wins or losses are created equal. The quality of any win depends upon the final margin, the strength of the opponent, and the venue of the game.

The table provides tools to evaluate this game's final margin considering the relevant factors. This table separates game outcomes into three ranges, red, tan, and green. Over the years, Calipari's strongest teams win most of their games on the season in the green range and the fewest number of games end in the red range. Conversely, Calipari's weakest teams win most of their games in the red and fewest in the green ranges. move the game into the strong group while smaller margins move the game into the poor range.

Game Summary:

Johnny Juzang has missed the last three games due to a contagious illness that required separation from the other players and coaches. Johnny Juzang dressed for the Alabama game, and will be on the bench for tonight's game. However, Coach Calipari has not addressed his availability for today's game. Tonight, we also learned that Dontaie Allen still is not working practices but may be close. Coach Calipari starts Keion Brooks, E. J. Montgomery, Nick Richards, Tyrese Maxey, and Ashton Hagans, to start the 16 th game of this season against the South Carolina. Nate Sestina, Kahlil Whitney, Immanuel Quickley, and possibly Johnny Juzang will come off the bench.

Kentucky controls the opening tip and turns the ball over. The Cats hold the Gamecocks scoreless in the opening segment and lead 8-0 at the under 16 media timeout. However, the stripes whistled the Cats for 6 fouls in the first 4 ½ minutes, which means the Gamecocks will be shooting on all fouls for the remainder of the first half, including a pair of free throws after this timeout. In the second segment, the Cats only added 3 points to their game total and South Carolina scored 6 to pull to within 5, 11-6, at the under 12 media timeout.

At the under 8 media timeout, the Cats lead by 9, 19-10, and shortly after the media timeout, the Cats moved on top by 11, 21-10. Then South Carolina clawed back to within 5 points on back to back 3 point baskets. The Cats moved back on top by the previous game high 11 points, 29-18, at the under 4 media timeout.

In the final segment, the Cats can only manage 1 free throw in 3 attempts while South Carolina put up 7 points to cut the lead to 5 points, 30-25, forcing Coach Calipari to take a timeout with 1:25 left. After the timeout, the Cats get a 3 point play, and lead by 8, 33-25, at the half.

The Cats scored 33 points on 36 possessions, 0.917 points per possession, and SOUTH CAROLINA managed their 25 points on 36 possessions, 0.694 ppp. The Cats made 42.9% of their first half shots, including 2-7 from outside the arc. SOUTH CAROLINA managed to make 24.3% of their first half shots, including 2-10 from outside the arc.

The Cats made 7-12 free throws (58.3%) and SOUTH CAROLINA made 5-9 (55.6%).

On the Boards, the South Carolina controlled the glass 25-22 overall, and South Carolina controlled the offensive glass 12-4. South Carolina earned an advantage on second chance points of 5-4. The Cats secured 23.5% of their misses and allowed SOUTH CAROLINA to grab 40.0% of their misses as second chance opportunities.

Second Half:

Kentucky opens the second half, and after a Kentucky miss, South Carolina pulls to within 6 points. Then following a Kentucky turnover, South Carolina gets to the foul line for 1 of 2 to trim the margin to only 5 points again. The Cats then score 5 straight of their own to move back on top by 10. South Carolina takes a timeout with 18 minutes left in the game. After the timeout, the Cats move on top by 13, 41-28, with a 3 pointer by Nate Sestina and by 14, 44-30, on a 3 point play by E. J. Montgomery. The Cats lead by 13, 45-32, at the under 16 media timeout. In the second segment, South Carolina trimmed the lead to 9 points twice, and the Cats responded each time with baskets or free throws to lead by 11, 52-41, at the under 12 media timeout, and E. J. Montgomery will be at the line for a pair of free throws after the break.

E. J. Montgomery makes both to move out by 13, but a 3 point basket and a 3 point play around the Cats' 12 th turnover of the game cut the lead to 7 points very quickly. Another 3 point basket following the Cats' 13 th turnover cuts the lead to 4 points, 54-50. After the Cats moved back on top by a more comfortable 8 points, South Carolina cut the lead back to only 4, 61-57, at the under 8 media timeout, and South Carolina will have a free throw to complete a 3 point play and trim the lead to only 3 points after the break.

In the 4 th segment, the Cats saw use pull into a 68-68 tie with 4:16 left, Coach Calipari takes a timeout. After the Cats ease back on top by 2 points from the line, South Carolina scores the next 7 points to lead by 5, 75-70. The Cats battle to within 2 points, 78-76 with 11 seconds left, and Coach Calipari uses a timeout. The Cats score to tie the score, but South Carolina hits a 3 point basket at the buzzer to defeat the Cats by 3 points, 81-78.

Cats lose 81-78.


UK scored its 78 points on 75 possessions (1.040 ppp) for the game, and SOUTH CAROLINA scored its 81 points on 74 possessions (1.095 ppp).

South Carolina won the battle of the boards 42-41, and South Carolina controlled the offensive glass 20-10 which produced a 16-10 advantage on second chance points for the Gamecocks. SOUTH CAROLINA had an offensive efficiency of 0.878 ppp on its 74 first chance possessions and 0.800 ppp for its 20 second chance possessions. UK had 0.907 ppp on its 75 first chance possessions and 1.000 ppp on its 10 second chance possessions. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed 31.3%of its misses as offensive rebounds while SOUTH CAROLINA was able to convert 39.2% of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.

UK hit poorly from the free throw line in this game, making 25-36 [69.4%]. SOUTH CAROLINA made 16-30 [53.3%] for the game. Field goal shooting for UK was 24-55 overall [43.6%] and 5-15 from long range [33.3%]. For South Carolina, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was 22-54 [40.7%] and from long range, SOUTH CAROLINA hit 7-19 [36.8%].

The Cats committed 15 turnovers, one for every 5.0 possessions. The Cats forced 9 SOUTH CAROLINA turnovers, one for every 8.2 possessions.

Next Game On Schedule: Saturday afternoon at Arkansas in the Cats' seventeenth regular season game, and the 5 th game of the 2020 SEC season.

Submitted by Richard Cheeks

Submitted by Richard Cheeks


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