2019-20 Season Analytical Writings

Cats Return To Rupp Undefeated in SEC To Face Alabama

At halftime on Tuesday night, the Cats trailed by 6 points, and the Georgia players celebrated their “victory” a bit aggressively, and inappropriately, as they left the floor. The second half told an entirely different story as the Cats dominated the second 20 minutes, 47-32 to seal an all-important SEC road win in the Cats' first true road game of the season. Some observers have said that the second half in Athens was perhaps the best half of basketball that this team has played this season. I am not sure if that is indeed the case, but there is no denying that it is among the strongest halves of basketball, if not the best so far this season.

Now the Cats return to Rupp to face Alabama before venturing out for a 2 game road swing through Columbia, South Carolina and Fayetteville, Arkansas. The first week of SEC action has produced four teams with a 2-0 start, Auburn, Kentucky, Florida and LSU. Another four teams split their first two SEC games, Arkansas, Tennessee, Texas A&M, and Alabama. The rest of the SEC members are still looking for their first 2020 conference win.

Alabama enters this game with an 8-6 record, 1-1 in the SEC. After a 2-4 start, Alabama has won 6 of their last 8 games. The Tide's most impressive wins thus far this season have been over #74 Mississippi State by 21 earlier this week with a game ANE of 0.37 ppp. Alabama has lost three times this season with a negative game ANE to #142 Penn by 1, to #82 Rhode Island by 14, and to #70 Iowa State by 15. Despite these negative performances, Alabama's current ANE is an impressive 0.142 ppp against a schedule strength of 0.065 ppp and a tempo of 78.1 possessions per game.

The Cats bring an ANE of 0.201 ppp into this game having played a schedule strength of 0.000 ppp at a 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 74 possessions with the Cats winning by 9 points, 79-70.

It is intuitively clear than not all 9-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 two games due to a contagious illness that required separation from the other players and coaches. Johnny Juzang has been on the court shooting during pre-game activities, which indicates Johnny Juzang is no longer contagious, but Coach Calipari has not addressed his availability for today's game. Coach Calipari starts Keion Brooks, E. J. Montgomery, Nick Richards, Tyrese Maxey, and Ashton Hagans, to start the 15 th game of this season against the Crimson Tide. Nate Sestina, Kahlil Whitney, Immanuel Quickley, and possibly Johnny Juzang will come off the bench.

Kentucky controls the opening tip and after an empty initial possession, ease to a 4-0 lead before the Crimson Tide get its first basket of the game. At the under 16 media timeout, the Cats lead by 4, 8-4, and Alabama will be shooting free throws after the break. After converting the free throws, the tide get a couple of baskets off Kentucky turnovers to move into its first lead of the game, 10-8, forcing an early timeout by Coach Calipari with 14:13 left in the first half. After the timeout, the Cats go on a 8-0 run to move on top by a game high 6 points, and the Cats maintain that lead to the under 12 media timeout, 18-12 with 11:19 left in the first half.

In the first 9 minutes, the Cats have been out rebounded, committed more turnovers, and given up more second chance points yet lead early. The Cats' 8-point run had been capped by a 3 point basket by Nate Sestina just prior to the timeout. Out of the break, Nate Sestina made his 2 nd 3-point basket to extend the run to 13-2 and the lead to 9 points, 21-12. However, Alabama has charged back to only trail by 3 points, 26-23, at the under 8 media timeout, and Alabama will have a free throw to complete a 3 point play. In the 4 th segment, the Cats move back on top by 9, 37-28, and a 3 pointer by Immanuel Quickley forced an Alabama timeout with 3:48 left in the first half.

Nick Richards' free throw with 0:30 left in the half extended the Kentucky lead to a game high 15 points, but a 3 point basket just prior to the half trimmed the lead to 10, 45-35, at the half.

The Cats scored 45 points on 40 possessions, 1.125 points per possession, and ALABAMA managed their 35 points on 39 possessions, 0.897 ppp. The Cats made 56.3% of their first half shots, including 5-7 from outside the arc. ALABAMA managed to make 31.8% of their first half shots, including 3-13 from outside the arc.

The Cats made 4-6 free throws (66.7%) and ALABAMA made 4-5 (80.0%).

On the Boards, the Crimson Tide controlled the glass 23-22 overall, and Alabama controlled the offensive glass 12-4. Alabama earned an advantage on second chance points of 10-8 The Cats secured 26.7% of their misses and allowed ALABAMA to grab 40.0% of their misses as second chance opportunities.

Second Half:

Kentucky opens the second half, and extends the lead back to the game high 15 points, 52-37. Alabama scores at the end of the opening segment to trim the lead to 13 points, 52-39, at the under 16 media timeout. In the second segment, the Crimson Tide trimmed the lead to 7 points, 53-46 at the end of a 9-1 run. The Cats stopped the run and maintain a 9 point lead at the under 12 media timeout, 57-48.

In the third segment, Alabama trimmed the lead to 5, 59-54 at the under 8 media timeout, and Alabama will have a free throw to complete a 3 point play after the timeout. In the 4 th segment, Alabama trimmed the lead to 3 points, 63-60, and the Cats are clinging to a 4 point lead, 69-65 at the under 4 media timeout with 2:20 left and Ashton Hagans set for free throws after the break.

Cats win 76-67.


UK scored its 76 points on 75 possessions (1.013 ppp) for the game, and ALABAMA scored its 67 points on 73 possessions (0.918 ppp).

Kentucky and Alabama battled to a 44-44 split on rebounds, but Alabama won the battle of the offensive glass 16-10. Kentucky and Alabama each scored 17 points on their second chance possessions. ALABAMA had an offensive efficiency of 0.685 ppp on its 73 first chance possessions and 1.063 ppp for its 16 second chance possessions. UK had 0.787 ppp on its 75 first chance possessions and 1.700 ppp on its 10 second chance possessions. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed 26.3%of its misses as offensive rebounds while ALABAMA was able to convert 32.0% of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.

UK hit poorly from the free throw line in this game, making 11-17 [64.7%]. ALABAMA made 7-12 [56.3%] for the game. Field goal shooting for UK was 28-63 overall [44.4%] and 9-15 from long range [60.0%]. For Alabama, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was 24-55 [43.6%] and from long range, ALABAMA hit 4-21 [19.0%].

The Cats committed 14 turnovers, one for every 5.4 possessions. The Cats forced 8 ALABAMA turnovers, one for every 9.1 possessions.

Next Game On Schedule: Wednesday night at South Carolina in the Cats' sixteenth regular season game, and the 4 th game of the 2020 SEC season.

Submitted by Richard Cheeks



Submitted by Richard Cheeks


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