2019-20 Season Analytical Writings

Cats Face Utah Valley On The Rebound From The Upset Loss to Evansville

The Cats moved into the top spot of the major wire service polls last Monday, and on Tuesday, the Cats surrendered any claim to the top spot with a 3 point upset loss to Walter McCarty's Evansville Aces. Evansville took control of the game early, and maintained control to the end. The Cats did mount 3 runs at the Aces in the second half, even taking a small lead once, but each time the Cats made a run, McCarty's Aces were not just up to the challenge, they regained control of the game quickly.

The list of firsts surrounding this loss is lengthy and I will not recite any elements of this list here. Suffice it to say that no Kentucky team should lose to any Evansville team at Rupp. Not in 2019, not any year prior to 2019, and in no season yet to come. However, just as previous Kentucky teams have had embarrassing, inexplicable losses to the likes of Gardner-Webb and VMI on this same court, this team has carved out a dubious place in UK history and lore.

This game again exposed these cats as weak on the boards and poor shooting from long range. Calipari teams at UK have routinely worked to earn an offensive rebounding rate upwards of 40% every year while limiting opponents in the aggregate to well under 30% on the offensive glass. This team's offensive rebounding rates defy explanation for any Calipari coached team. This team is languishing with an offensive rebounding rate of only 26.5% through the first 3 games. Last year's team had an offensive rebounding rate a little below the typically Caliparian rate at 36.6% and averaged over 11 second chance points per game. This year's start on the glass has produced under 7 second chance points per game.

Yes, the 3-point arc is further from the basket than ever for the college game this year, but is that the explanation for a drop in 3 point shooting from 35.4% last year to 25.0% so far this season. If the longer arc distance is the explanation, don't you think the logical coaching and player response would be to attempt fewer not more 3 point attempts? Yet, the rate of 3 point attempts has remained at about 29% this year, essentially unchanged from last year.

After a masterful opening game against a very strong Michigan State team, and the dismantling of EKU, the loss to Evansville sticks out like a sore thumb even with the rebounding and 3 point shooting issues noted above. So the question must be answered soon. Was Evansville a gross aberration or was Evansville a precursor of troubling times? The Cats will get a chance on Monday night to answer this nagging question when Utah Valley comes to Rupp.

The Cats now stand at 2-1 with an Adjusted Net Efficiency (ANE) of 0.21 points per possession (ppp) against a schedule strength of +0.019 ppp. This ANE corresponds to a plunge from the aforementioned #1 ranking. The Cats' average tempo has been about 71 possessions per game despite the 82-possession tempo of the EKU game.

Utah Valley has played four games, two against D1 opposition with a 1-1 record in those games. Utah Valley lost at #295 Denver by 12 and won at #148 UAB by 11 in games played at a tempo of 68 possessions. These games produced an ANE of -0.008 ppp against a schedule strength of -0.008 ppp.

Based on the limited data from 2 or 3 games for these teams, an ANE analysis indicates this game will have a tempo of 72 possessions with the Cats prevailing by 19 points, 76-57.

Game Summary:

E. J. Montgomery is still out with an injury sustained during the Michigan State game. Ashton Hagans is nursing a heel injury, and pre-game reports indicate the Immanuel Quickley may not be available tonight due to an injury sustained in practice over the weekend. Coach Calipari has used 9 players this season, and three of them are now injured to various degrees. Ashton Hagans will probably play, E. J. Montgomery is out tonight, and Immanuel Quickley's availability tonight will be a game time decision per Coach Calipari. Tonight, Calipari starts Tyrese Maxey, Ashton Hagans, Nate Sestina, Nick Richards, and Kahlil Whitney. Johnny Juzang, and Keino Brooks will come off the bench tonight. Immanuel Quickley, E. J. Montgomery and Dontaie Allen remain on the disabled list.

Kentucky controls the opening tip and fail to score on the first two possessions while UV moves into the early lead, 6-5 at the under 16 media timeout. In the opening segment, the Cats made 2-6 shots and committed 5 turnovers while UV had 11 shot attempts, making 3, with no turnovers. In the second segment, the Cats score the first 5 points to move into a 4 point lead, 10-6, but a UV 3 pointer trims the lead to 1 point, and the Cats lead 12-11 at the under 12 media timeout and Tyrese Maxey will have a pair of free throws after this time out.

In the 3 rd segment, the Cats could not pull away from the Wolverines on 1 for 4 shooting and 2 more turnovers, and lead by 1 point, 15-14 at the under 8 media timeout. Ashton Hagans will be at the line for a pair of free throws after this break in action. In the 4 th segment, the Cats finally put some space between themselves and UV with their first 3 point basket of the game, 5-5 from the line, and 4-6 inside the arc to lead 31-25 at the under 4 media timeout with 2:57 left in the first half.

The Cats close the first half with an 8 points lead, 35-27.

The Cats scored 35 points on 35 possessions, 1.000 points per possession, and Utah Valley managed their 27 points on 33 possessions, 0.818 ppp. The Cats made 33.3% (10-30) of their first half shots, including 1-8 (12.5%) from outside the arc. Utah Valley made 11-31 (35.5%) shooting in the first half and only managed to make 4-14 shots from long range (28.6%) and 7-17 (41.2%) from inside the arc.

The Cats made 14-15 free throws (93.3%) and Utah Valley managed to make 1-3 (33.3%) free throws.

On the Boards, the Cats won the battle 27-15 and the Cats won the battle on the offensive glass 10-4. The Cats used its 10 second chance possessions to score 12 points and UTAH VALLEY used its 4 second chances to score 5 second chance points. The Cats grabbed 47.8% of their missed shots while UTAH VALLEY only rebounded 15.2% of its missed shots. The Cats committed 8 turnovers, one for each 4.4 possessions while Utah Valley committed 5 turnovers, one for each 6.6 possessions.

Second Half:

UTAH VALLEY opens the second half with a miss, and the Cats go on a 9-1 run to start the second half and move on top by 16 points, 44-28. However, UV scores the final 4 points of the segment to trim the lead to 12, 44-32 at the under 16 media timeout. In the second segment, UV trims the lead to 10 points, 46-36, and the teams play in the 10-13 point range until UV makes 3 consecutive 3 point shots to trim the lead to 7, 54-47, forcing Coach Calipari to take a timeout with 11:11 left in the game.

In an extended 3 rd segment, UV trimmed the UK lead to 2 points, 60-58, and the Cats lead by 4, 62-58 at the under 8 media timeout with only 5:54 left in the game. The action stopped with a technical foul on a UV player who showed disgust for a no call on his last shot, so the Cats will have a pair of technical free throws and the ball after the break. In the short 4 th segment, the Cats and Wolverines end with the Cats up by 4, 68-64, but instead of the Cats in possession with free throws and the ball as it was last timeout, this time, UV will have the ball with 3:40 left in the game.

Another 3 point basket cuts the lead to a single point, 68-67. After a couple of missed scoring opportunities by each team, Nate Sestina makes a 3 point play to extend the lead to 4, 71-67.

Cats hang on to win 82-74.


UK scored its 82 points in a total of 72 possessions (1.139 ppp) for the game, and Utah Valley scored its 74 points on a total of 71 possessions (1.042 ppp).

Kentucky won the battle of the boards, with a rebounding edge 49-28, and the Kentucky won the battle of the offensive glass 14-8. Kentucky used its 14 second chance possessions to score 16 second chance points while UTAH VALLEY used its 8 second chances to score 7 points. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed a season high 41.2% of its misses as offensive rebounds while Utah Valley was able to convert 18.6% of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.

UK hit well from the free throw line in this game, making 31-34 [91.2%]. Utah Valley made 11-18 [61.1%] for the game. Field goal shooting for UK was 25-57 overall [43.9%] and 1-12 from long range [8.3%]. For Utah Valley, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was 15-33 [45.5%] and from long range, Utah Valley hit 11-31 [35.5%].

The Cats committed 14 turnovers, one for every 5.1 possessions. The Cats forced 7 Utah Valley turnovers, one for every 10.1 possessions.

Next Game On Schedule: Friday night against Mount St. Mary's (Md.) in the fifth game of the 2019-20 regular season.

Submitted by Richard Cheeks


Submitted by Richard Cheeks


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