2019-20 Season Analytical Writings

Cats Open 2020 SEC Season Against Missouri at Rupp

Save the trip to Texas Tech in about 4 weeks, the Cats traversed its non-conference schedule during November and December and finished that journey with a badly needed win over #8 Louisville in OT with three losses. Those twelve games included impressive wins over Michigan State (#1 pre-season) and Louisville (#1 earlier in the season). The loss in Las Vegas to #1 Ohio State would not be an embarrassment for any major college basketball program in 2019-20, but the losses to #95 Utah also in Las Vegas probably should not have occurred, and the less to #192 Evansville at Rupp is an indelible black mark on this team and program.

Now, the Cats must turn their full attention to the 18 game slate of conference games that begin on Saturday at Rupp against Missouri. The other 13 SEC teams have also completed their non-conference schedules, with the exception of the 10 teams scheduled to participate in the annual SEC-Big12 Challenge at the end of January.

As conference action is set to begin for all, Auburn has distinguished itself at the head of the pack with an ANE of 0.251 ppp. No other SEC team enters conference play with an ANE at or above 0.2 ppp. There are five teams with ANE values between 0.168 ppp and 0.197 ppp, Arkansas (0.197), Kentucky (0.185), LSU (0.185), Florida (0.176), and Missouri (0.168).

In my opinion, the SEC race is likely to focus on which 3 of these 5 teams will survive the SEC wars to secure the remaining three double bye positions for the SEC Tournament in March.

The bottom four at this stage include Texas A&M (-0.080), South Carolina (0.050), Vanderbilt (0.070), and Mississippi (0.087), leaving Mississippi State (0.143) and Tennessee (0.142) in position to challenge the upper tier teams, and Georgia (0.101) struggling to stay out of the bottom four.

Despite the stumble against Utah, this Kentucky team's play has improved since hitting its bottom with the home loss to Evansville in early November. However, the ANE is trending horizontally (not upward or downward) over the last 8 games between a narrow range of about 0.16 to 0.19 ppp, and currently stands at 0.185 ppp.

Missouri starts the SEC with an 8-4 record. The Tigers' most impressive wins have been at #24 Temple by 10 and over #42 Illinois by 7 on a neutral court in December. After winning 4 of their first five games, with the sole loss at #46 Xavier by 5 in OT, the Tigers struggled through a 3-game losing streak that included losses to #6 Butler by 11, #90 Oklahoma by 11, and at home to #336 Charleston Southern by 8. The Missouri ANE bottomed out following the Charleston Southern loss at 0.10 ppp. However, the Tigers' current 4 game winning streak has lifted their ANE to a current 0.168 ppp.

These trends indicate this game is dangerous for the Cats.

In summary, #43 Missouri brings a 8-4 record into the game. Missouri has played this season at an average tempo of 66.5 possessions per game at an ANE 0.168 ppp with a schedule strength of -0.012 ppp. The #32 Cats bring a 9-3 record into this game with an ANE of 0.185 ppp against a schedule strength of 0.006 ppp, having played at an average tempo of 69.1 possessions per game.

Based on this data for these teams, an ANE analysis indicates this game will have a tempo of 68 possessions with the Cats winning by 5 points, 68-63.

It is intuitively clear than not all 5-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:

The Cats move into SEC action off a huge win over Louisville a week ago. Camp Cal is now in full force, and Coach Calipari is defining his game player rotation. Today, 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, and Immanuel Quickley will come off the bench.

Kentucky controls the opening tip and commits turnovers on its first two possessions. Missouri makes a 3 pointer on a second chance possession, and leads 5-2 at the under 16 media timeout. Kentucky will have the ball after the break. The Cats failed to score and fell behind by 5, 7-2, and then by 6, 10-4 before a 3 point play by Nick Richards trimmed the lead to 3. After trailing by 3, 12-9, Missouri ran over 4 quick points to move on top by a game high 7 points, 16-9, forcing Coach Calipari to take a timeout with 11:32 left in the first half.

Missouri eased out by 8 points from the free throw line, 17-9, before Tyrese Maxey scores for the Cats to break the scoring drought. Following Missouri's first turnover, the officials stop play for a video review. When play resumed, the Cats pulled to within 2 points, 17-15 on a pair of baskets by Nick Richards. On his second baskets, Nick Richards was fouled and completed his second 3 point play of the game to cut the lead to 1 point. After Missouri committed another turnover, Immanuel Quickley makes Kentucky's first 3 point basket of the game to lift the Cats into their first lead of the game, 19-17. Then after Missouri missed a 3 point attempt, Ashton Hagans was fouled and will go to the line after the under 12 mto with 7:38 left in the first half. After Missouri moved on top by 8, the Cats have had a 10-0 run. Out of the 19 points that Kentucky has scored in this game, Nick Richards has scored 14.

Ashton Hagans makes both free throws to ease the Cats to their game high 4 point lead, 21-17. Missouri stops the Kentucky run with a second chance basket. Then Missouri trims the Kentucky lead to 1 point on the Tigers' 3 rd 3 pointer of the game, 23-22. Nate Sestina eases the Cats back to the 3 point lead from the foul line, and Immanuel Quickley's first 3 pointer of the game lifted the Cats to a game high 6 point lead, 28-22 at the under 4 media timeout.

In the final segment, the Cats moved on top by 8, 31-23, and Missouri closed the scoring with their 4 th 3 pointer of the half to trim the Kentucky lead to 5, 31-26, at the half.

The Cats scored 31 points on 32 possessions, 0.969 points per possession, and MISSOURI managed their 26 points on 31 possessions, 0.839 ppp. The Cats made 43.9% of their first half shots, including 2-9 from outside the arc. MISSOURI managed to make 35.7 of their first half shots, including 4-7 from outside the arc.

The Cats made 9-10 free throws (90.0%) and MISSOURI made 2-4 (50.0%).

On the Boards, the Cats controlled the glass 17-14 overall, but Missouri controlled the offensive glass 5-3. Missouri earned an advantage on second chance points of 8-5. The Cats secured 23.1% of their misses and allowed MISSOURI to grab 27.8% of their misses as second chance opportunities.

Second Half:

Kentucky opens the second half with a turnover, and Missouri trims the lead to 3 at the other end. The Cats move back on top by 7, 35-28 before Missouri trims the lead to 4, 35-31 at the under 16 media timeout. After the timeout, a free throw and a second chance 3 pointer by Immanuel Quickley gave the Cats another 8 point lead. Then a technical foul was assessed against Missouri, and the Cats added 2 point mores to extend their lead to a game high 10 points. Then the Cats extend the lead to 13, 46-33, prompting a timeout by Missouri with 13:10 left in the game. The teams exchange baskets to a 48-35 Kentucky lead at the under 12 media timeout with 10:58 left in the game.

In the short 3 rd segment, the Cats extend their lead to 15, 56-41, at the under 8 media timeout. Play stopped in the game for this media timeout when Nick Richards received his 4 th foul on a double foul call. In the 4 th segment, Missouri trims the lead to 10 points, 56-46 on a pair of baskets and 1 for 2 from the line around a pair of empty possessions for the Cats. The Cats respond with a 6-0 run of their own to move on top by a game high 16 points, 62-46 before a late basket by Missouri trimmed the lead to 14, 62-48 at the under 4 media timeout.

Nick Richards fouled out with 21 points with 3:51 left in the game and after the free throws, the Cats on top by 12, 62-50.

Cats win by 12, 71-59.


UK scored its 71 points on 65 possessions (1.092 ppp) for the game, and MISSOURI scored its 59 points on 64 possessions (0.922 ppp).

Kentucky won the battle of the boards, with a rebounding edge 36-31, but Missouri won the battle on the offensive glass 12-9. Missouri won the second chance point battle 14-10. MISSOURI had an offensive efficiency of 0.703 ppp on its 64 first chance possessions and 1.167 ppp for its 12 second chance possessions. UK had 0.938 ppp on its 65 first chance possessions and 1.111 ppp on its 9 second chance possessions. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed 32.1%of its misses as offensive rebounds while MISSOURI was able to convert 30.8% of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.

UK hit well from the free throw line in this game, making 27-30 [90.0%]. MISSOURI made 11-17 [64.7%] for the game. Field goal shooting for UK was 20-48 overall [41.7%] and 4-16 from long range [25.0%]. For Missouri, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was 15-40 [37.5%] and from long range, MISSOURI hit 6-18 [33.3%].

The Cats committed 13 turnovers, one for every 5.0 possessions. The Cats forced 11 MISSOURI turnovers, one for every 5.8 possessions.

Next Game On Schedule: Tuesday night at Georgia in the Cats' fourteenth regular season game, and the 2 nd game of the 2020 SEC season.

Submitted by Richard Cheeks

Submitted by Richard Cheeks


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