2019-20 Season Analytical Writings

Will Cats Continue To Progress With Sestina Out?

Building on the second half against Mount St. Mary's, the Cats turned in their second strongest game of this young season against Lamar on Sunday evening. The game ANE (0.36 ppp) nudged the season average ANE up from about 0.14 ppp about 0.17 ppp. To be sure, the rising trend in this parameter is very welcome after the ANE plummeted due to the loss to Evansville and the lack luster performance against Utah Valley.

Prior to the Lamar game, I expressed concern that poor overall play of the team against Evansville, Utah Valley, and the first half against Mount St. Mary's raised concern about the Cats' fortunes against Lamar given Lamar's stronger performances against Utah Valley and Mount St. Mary's. I also recognized that the strong finish against Mount St. Mary's could indicate this team has begun to turn a corner, and a 20+ win over the Cardinals could signal the team's turn in the better direction is continuing.

The Cats took care of business against Lamar with a 25 point win. Clearly, the final margin was strong enough to be the Cats' strongest game in their first 6 games, but it is equally clear that this team has a considerable issues to resolve before it can lay a legitimate claim to completing its turn to move forward in the direction that the coaches, the players, and the fans expect from this team.

•  A championship caliber basketball team will not squander a 15-2 lead against a team like Lamar, as this team did in the first half.

•  A championship caliber team will not allow a team like Lamar trim a 25 point second half lead to only 14 points, as this team did in the second half.

•  A championship caliber team will not be content to play the majority of the second half trading baskets with a team like Lamar once it establishes a 20 point working margin at the half.

This team must make significant improvements to grow into a SEC contender by January and a national championship contender by March.

Coach Calipari has been complaining since mid October about injuries impacting his ability to work this team as he likes due to injuries. Before the season, Dontaie Allen had knee surgery and his recovery and rehabilitation has kept him on the sidelines. Zan Payne is also recovering from surgery. Since October, injuries have sidelined or limited Immanuel Quickley, Ashton Hagans, E. J. Montgomery, and Nick Richards. On Wednesday, Nate Sestina broke his left wrist in a practice fall and will miss 3 to 4 weeks according to Coach Calipari.

With UAB visiting Rupp on Friday, the Cats will not have Dontaie Allen, Zan Payne, or Nate Sestina available, limiting the available players to 8 players.

The Cats now stand at 5-1 with an Adjusted Net Efficiency (ANE) of 0.17 points per possession (ppp) against a schedule strength of -0.065 ppp. The Cats' average tempo remains about 71 possessions per game.

#211 UAB has played five games with a 4-1 record in those games. UAB's last three opponents have been Utah Valley, Mount St. Mary's, and Lamar, and the Blazers lost to Utah Valley by 11 and defeated MSM by 7 and Lamar by 9. These games produced an ANE of -0.036 ppp against a schedule strength of -0.129 ppp.

Based on this early season data for these teams, an ANE analysis indicates this game will have a tempo of 69 possessions with the Cats prevailing by18 points, 75-57. The challenge for the Cats in this game is to continue turning that corner with Nate Sestina out of action, and a win by 27 or more points would be consistent with movement toward championship caliber play.

Game Summary:

Calipari starts Tyrese Maxey, Ashton Hagans, E. J. Montgomery, Nick Richards, and Kahlil Whitney. Immanuel Quickley, Johnny Juzang, and Keino Brooks will come off the bench tonight. Dontaie Allen and Nate Sestina remain on the disabled list.

Kentucky controls the opening tip and score a quick basket with an assist from Ashton Hagans to Nick Richards for a dunk. Following a UAB miss, Ashton Hagans hits a jump shot forcing a quick UAB timeout. The Cats do not score again in the opening segment and UAB catches up, 4-4 at the under 16 media timeout. After making their first 2 shots, the Cats have missed their last 6 shots and committed a turnover on a charge by Nick Richards. After the timeout, UAB moves into a 3 point lead with its first 3 point basket of the game before Nick Richards stops the run at 7 points to pull the Cats within a point. The Cats regain the lead, 8-7, on a jump shot in the lane by Immanuel Quickley. The Keion Brooks makes the Cats' first 3 pointer. The Cats move on top 13-7 before UAB stops the UK run with another 3 pointer. The Cats respond with a jump shot by E. J. Montgomery and a 3 pointer by Tyrese Maxey. UAB takes another timeout with 9:57 left in the first half and the Cats on top by 8, 18-10.

In a short 3 rd segment, both teams scored one basket and the Cats maintain the lead at 8 points, 20-12, at the under 8 media timeout. . At the under 4 media timeout, the Cats lead by 10, 29-19, and the Cats finish the final segment with a 38-25 lead at the half.

The Cats scored 38 points on 32 possessions, 1.188 points per possession, and UAB managed their 25 points on 31 possessions, 0.806 ppp. The Cats made 50.0% (15-30) of their first half shots, including 5-11 (45.5%) from outside the arc. UAB made 11-30 (36.7%) shooting in the first half and managed to make 3-6 shots from long range (50.0%) and 8-24 (33.3%) from inside the arc.

The Cats made 3-4 free throws (75.0%) and UAB managed to make 0-1 (0.0%) free throws.

On the Boards, the Cats won the battle 20-14 and the Cats and both teams grabbed 4 offensive rebounds in the first half. The Cats used its 4 second chance possessions to score 3 points and UAB used its 4 second chances to score 6 second chance points. The Cats grabbed 28.6% of their missed shots while UAB only rebounded 20.0% of its missed shots. The Cats committed 5 turnovers, one for each 6.4 possessions while UAB committed 5 turnovers, one for each 6.2 possessions.

Second Half:

UAB opens the second half with a 3 point basket to trim the lead to 10 points. After a pair of free throws by E. J. Montgomery, UAB makes another 3 pointer to trim the lead to only 9 points. The Cats lead by 9, 42-33, and have the ball at the under 16 media timeout. In the second segment, the Cats traded baskets with the Blazers until a pair of free throws by Immanuel Quickley extended the lead to a game high 14 points, 50-36, and the Cats lead by 14, 52-38 at the under 12 media timeout with Nick Richards set for a pair of free throws after the break.

The Nick Richards' free throws extends the lead to 16 points, and a basket by Johnny Juzang extends the lead to 18 points. However, UAB trims 5 points from the maximum 18 point lead, and the Cats lead by 13, 58-45, at the under 8 media timeout with 7:22 to play and UAB in possession. In the 4 th segment, the Cats move back on top by 17 points, 64-47, and UAB uses a timeout with 4:59 left in the game and the Cats in possession of the ball. After the timeout, Ashton Hagans gets to the line and extends the lead to a game high 19 points, 66-47. Then Ashton Hagans steals the ball and is fouled at the basket on the Cats' end of the floor. Hagans made 1 of 2 to extend the lead to 20 points, 67-47, but UAB stops the UK run with a 3 pointer. Another pair of UAB 3 pointers trims the lead to 13, 69-56, with 1:51 left in the game.

Cats win by 11, 69-58.


UK scored its 69 points in a total of 63 possessions (1.095 ppp) for the game, and UAB scored its 58 points on a total of 63 possessions (0..921 ppp).

Kentucky won the battle of the boards, with a rebounding edge 39-26, and Kentucky won the battle of the offensive glass 11-8. Kentucky used its 11 second chance possessions to score 13 second chance points while UAB used its 8 second chances to score 10 points. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed a season poor 37.9% of its misses as offensive rebounds while UAB was able to convert 22.2% of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.

UK made 12-16 [75.0%] from the free throw line. UAB made 2-5 [40.0%] for the game. Field goal shooting for UK was 26-55 overall [47.3%] and 5-15 from long range [33.3%]. For UAB, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was 16-42 [38.1%] and from long range, UAB hit 8-16 [50.0%).

The Cats committed 12 turnovers, one for every 5.3 possessions. The Cats forced 12 UAB turnovers, one for every 5.3 possessions.

Next Game On Schedule: One Week from Saturday afternoon against Fairleigh Dickinson in the eighth game of the 2019-20 regular season.

Submitted by Richard Cheeks


Submitted by Richard Cheeks


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