2019-20 Season Analytical Writings

Cats-Cards 2019

Yes, Cats – Cards; 2019.

On Saturday in Las Vegas, Coach Calipari's Cats played from behind for almost the entire game against #1 Ohio State in the CBS Sports Classic. The Cats' effort was among the stronger performances of the season, and extended for the full 40 minutes. Clearly, this game signaled UK's ability to compete against the best of the best that 2019-20 college basketball has to offer, which reinforces the Cats' season opening win over #5 Michigan State by 7 in Madison Square Garden. However, these Cats have two ugly blemishes on the face of their record through the first 1/3 of this season, losing at Rupp to #204 Evansville at Rupp by 3 and to #107 Utah in Las Vegas.

For the third consecutive season, UK will enter this grudge match ranked outside the top 10, currently #39 (ANE). However, unlike the last two years which saw the Cards also outside the top 10, this year the Cards bring a #7 ranking (ANE) into this grudge match, which will be played on the Cats' home court, Rupp Arena.

Overall, the Cats hold a commanding 36-16 advantage over the Cards, and During the Calipari Era, the Cats have dominated this rivalry 10-2. How will the Cats respond to the challenge this year when the Cards put their #7 ranking on the line on Saturday afternoon when the 2019 version of the Cats and the Cards occurs at Rupp.

There is a long, long history that defines this annual war, and you can review that entire history at the following link:

Suffice it to restate the obvious; these programs do not like one another, and that itself is an understatement of huge proportion. Last year marked the transition of this intrastate war from the Calipari-Pitino battle field to the Calipari-Mack battle ground. Calipari holds a 1-0 advantage in this war over Coach Mack.

The 2019-20 season continues this rivalry with game 2 of the Calipari-Mack Era. For each of the last 2 seasons, neither UK nor UL were in the top 10 at the time of this game. This year, the Cats have an 8-3 record and the Cats are coming off back to back losses to Utah and Ohio State. As a consequence, UK finds itself outside the top 10 for this rivalry game for the third season in a row. UL, on the other hand, enters this game with an 11-1 record and #7 ranking (ANE). This year, the Cats will enter this annual grudge match as the nation's 39 th most efficient team and Louisville will enter Rupp Arena as the nation's 7 th most efficient team.

Neither of these factors make this rivalry any less vitriolic. The Cards have played 12 games, 9 of them at the Yum Center, two on a neutral court, and one true road game at Miami FL in their season opener. The Cards have lost one time, to #52 Texas Tech (Upcoming UK Opponent) by 13 on a neutral court. The Cards most impressive win this season has been over #14 Michigan by 15 points at the YUM Center. In addition, the Cards and Cats have faced one common opponent this season. The Cards defeated #320 EKU by 32 while the Cats defeated #320 EKU by 42. The Cats have played 8 of their 11 games at home, and three on neutral courts. The Cats have lost three times, to #204 Evansville at Rupp by 3, to #107 Utah in Las Vegas, and to #1 Ohio State by 6 also in Las Vegas. The Cats' most impressive win was by 7 points over #5 Michigan State on a neutral court.

The #7 Cards are 11-1 while the #39 Cats are 8-3. The Cats raw defensive efficiency is 0.876 ppp, which is a significant improvement over the 0.956 ppp last year and 0.954 ppp two years ago. Louisville's is 0.883 ppp, which is significantly lower than last year's 0.967 ppp or the 0.927 ppp defensive efficiency UL brought into this game two seasons ago. The Cats' offense 1.066 ppp is very weak when compared to the standards established during the Calipari Era, which has usually been stronger than the UL Offensive Efficiency leading into this grudge match. However, UL's offense this season has been stronger at 1.146 ppp. The Cards and Cats have played very similar schedule strengths leading to this encounter. The Cats schedule value is -0.013 ppp while UL's schedule value is -0.012 ppp. Pomeroy rates this game in the Cards' column by 1 point, 66-65 while the BBF4UK ANE method gives a 2-point edge to the Cards despite the Cats' home court advantage this season, 69-67 at a tempo of 69 possessions.

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:

It is intuitively clear than not all 12-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:

In the aftermath of back to back losses, a break away from basketball to celebrate Christmas, and the beginning of Camp Cal, Coach Calipari starts Keion Brooks, E. J. Montgomery, Nick Richards, Tyrese Maxey, and Ashton Hagans, to start the 12 th game of this season against the Cards. Nate Sestina, Kahlil Whitney, Immanuel Quickley, and

Louisville controls the opening tip and scored the first 4 points of the game. The Cats and Cards traded baskets to a 2 point Louisville lead, 6-4, at the under 16 media timeout with 14:39 left in the first half. In the second segment, the Cats scored 5 unanswered points to ease into a 3 point, 9-6, lead at the under 12 media timeout. In the opening 8+ minutes, each team has had only 11 possessions in a pace more reminiscent of a war than a basketball game.

In the third segment, Louisville moved back into the lead, 12-11, and caught up at 14-14 at the under 8 media timeout. Louisville will have the “and one” when play resumes to ease back into the lead. In the 4 th segment, the Cats moved back on top, by a game high 4 points, 21-17, but the Cards quickly pulled back to within 1 points with a 3 point basket at the other end. The Cats lead by 1, 21-20, at the under 4 media timeout with 3:47 left in the game and the Cats in possession of the ball.

A pair of free throws by Immanuel Quickley lifts UK to its biggest lead of the day, 5 points, 27-22 with 1:17 left in the first half. After Tyrese Maxey gave the Cats another 5 point lead, 29-24 with 39 seconds left, the Cats closed the book on the first half with their 4 th 3 point basket following a Louisville turnover to lead by 8, 32-24, at the half.

The Cats scored 32 points on 27 possessions, 1.185 points per possession, and LOUISVILLE managed their 24 points on 29 possessions, 0.828 ppp. The Cats made 47.8% of their first half shots, including 4-9 from outside the arc. LOUISVILLE managed to make 35.5% of their first half shots, including 1-11 from outside the arc.

The Cats made 6-6 free throws (100.0%) and LOUISVILLE made 1-1 (100.0%).

On the Boards, the Cards controlled the glass 15-14 overall, and Louisville controlled the offensive glass 7-3. Louisville earned an advantage on second chance points of 6-0. The Cats secured 27.3% of their misses and allowed LOUISVILLE to grab 36.8% of their misses as second chance opportunities.

Second Half:

Kentucky opens the second half with a turnover, their 5 th of the game. The Cats go strong to the offensive glass early, getting 4 second chance points, the last 3 on a second chance 3 point basket by Nate Sestina to lift the Cats to a game high 12 point lead, 38-26, drawing a Louisville timeout with 16:53 left in the game. After the timeout, Louisville cut the lead to 11 with 1 of 2 from the line, and the Cats failed to score. At the under 16 media timeout, the Cats lead by 11, 38-27 with 15:56 left and Louisville in possession. On its first possession after the timeout, Louisville gets a 3 point play to cut the lead to 8. The Cards continue to chip away at the one time 12 point UK lead, and a 3 pointer that cut the lead to 1 point, 41-40 forced Coach Calipari to take a timeout with 12:25 left in the game. This is also the score at the under 12 media timeout with the Cats in possession.

In the third segment, Louisville exchanged 2 pointers for the Cats for 3 pointers for the Cards. The first exchange tied the score at 43-43 and the second exchange lifted the Cards into a 1 point lead, 46-45. The Cats closed the third segment with a 3 pointer to lead by 2, 48-46, at the under 8 media timeout. At the end of the segment, an offensive foul by Louisville gave the Cats the ball. Louisville trims the lead to 4, 52-48. Coach Calipari gets a technical foul for being out of the coaching box. When the dust settled, the Cats are clinging to a 1 point lead, 52-51 at the under 4 media timeout with 3:40 left in the game, and Nick Richards set for free throws after this timeout.

The Cards use their old 3 for 2 exchange to tie the score at 53, and then the teams traded 2 point scores to a 59-59 tie with 48 seconds left. After a timeout by Coach Calipari, the Cats moved on top by 2 points on a drive by Tyrese Maxey. Louisville takes a timeout with 24 seconds left and the Cats on top by 2, 61-59.

The game rides on the final 24 seconds, and Louisville will have a chance to tie or take the lead. Louisville ties the score, 61-61 with 11 seconds left in the game. The Cats fail to score, and this game goes to overtime.

Louisville controls the tap and opens the OT with a basket to move into the lead on a 3-point play. The Cats clawed back to a brief 1 point lead, but Louisville scored 4 in a row to move on top by 3, 68-65 with about 2:20 left in the OT. Nick Richards makes a tough basket on the blocks and is fouled on the shot giving Nick Richards a chance to tie the score again with 1:57 left. Nick Richards puts the Cats back into the lead on a nice score on the block, 70-68. When Louisville missed a 3 point attempt, the Cats could not secure the rebound, losing the ball under the Louisville basket with 59 seconds remaining and 20 on the shot clock. The Cards tie the game again at 70-70, and Nick Richards makes a pair of free throws with 27 seconds left to give the Cats another 2 point lead. When Louisville misses a 3 point attempt, Immanuel Quickley is fouled on the rebound. Immanuel Quickley makes both of his free throws to extend the lead to 4, 74-70 with 17.7 seconds left. Louisville burns its final timeout with 14 seconds left.

Cats win by 8, 78-70 in overtime.


UK scored its 78 points on 68 possessions (1.147 ppp) for the game, and LOUISVILLE scored its 70 points on 70 possessions (1.000 ppp).

Kentucky won the battle of the boards, with a rebounding edge 35-34, but Louisville won the battle on the offensive glass 16-9. Louisville won the second chance point battle 14-8. LOUISVILLE had an offensive efficiency of 0.800 ppp on its 70 first chance possessions and 0.875 ppp for its 16 second chance possessions. UK had 1.029 ppp on its 68 first chance possessions and 0.889 ppp on its 9 second chance possessions. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed 33.3%of its misses as offensive rebounds while LOUISVILLE was able to convert 38.1% of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.

UK hit well from the free throw line in this game, making 21-25 [84.0%]. LOUISVILLE made 9-20 [45.0%] for the game. Field goal shooting for UK was 25-54 overall [46.3%] and 7-15 from long range [46.7%]. For Louisville, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was 20-40 [50.0%] and from long range, LOUISVILLE hit 7-27 [25.9%].

The Cats committed 11 turnovers, one for every 6.2 possessions. The Cats forced 11 LOUISVILLE turnovers, one for every 6.4 possessions.

Next Game On Schedule: Saturday afternoon against Missouri at Rupp in the Cats' thirteenth regular season game, and the opening game of the 2020 SEC season.

Submitted by Richard Cheeks


Submitted by Richard Cheeks


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