2019-20 Season Analytical Writings

Cats Return To Rupp and SEC To Face Vanderbilt

The Cats return to Rupp on Wednesday after getting out of Lubbock, Texas with a hard fought win over a good Texas Tech team on Saturday in the 2020 version of the SEC-Big 12 challenge. Since dropping a pair of neutral court games in Las Vegas before Christmas, the Cats have put together seven wins in their last eight games including an OT win at Rupp over #9 Louisville, and road games at Georgia, Arkansas, and Texas Tech. The only loss in over the last month was a 3 point loss at South Carolina in a game that remains a head scratcher.

The Cats have been improving, just as Coach Calipari has promised that his team would, and there remains room for further growth as the season's last January game will occur on Wednesday when Vanderbilt comes to Rupp.

Vanderbilt opened the 2019-20 season with 5 wins in their first six games generally against an assortment of weak sisters of the poor. However, since Thanksgiving, the Commodores have only won 3 times in 13 starts. Through 19 games, Vanderbilt's strongest single game has been a 37 point win over #334 South Carolina State (Game ANE, 0.34 ppp), and Vanderbilt's last win was over #101 Davidson by 5 (Game ANE, 0.16 ppp). The Commodores are winless in SEC play and bring an overall record of 8-11 into Rupp Arena.

Vanderbilt's current ANE is an 0.011 ppp against a schedule strength of 0.027 ppp and a tempo of 70.3 possessions per game. The Cats bring an ANE of 0.210 ppp into this game having played a schedule strength of 0.064 ppp at a tempo of 70.2 possessions per game.

Based on this data for these teams, an ANE analysis indicates this game will have a tempo of 70 possessions with the Cats winning by 18 points , 81-63.

It is intuitively clear than not all 18-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:

Coach Calipari starts Tyrese Maxey, E. J. Montgomery, Nick Richards, Immanuel Quickley, and Ashton Hagans against the Vanderbilt. Nate Sestina, Keion Brooks, and Johnny Juzang will come off the bench. Dontaie Allen's status remains unclear, as coaches avoided direct questions on the subject on Tuesday once again.

Kentucky controls the opening tip and Tyrese Maxey makes the Cats' first 3 point attempt. Vanderbilt answers with a 3 pointer. After the Cats ease in front 9-5, Nick Richards leaves the game with 2 fouls. The Cats lead by 3, 11-8, at the under 16 media timeout. After a pair of Kentucky turnovers, Vanderbilt pulls even, 13-13. Ashton Hagans responds with a 3 point play to lead by 3 at the under 12 media timeout, 16-13.

In the first 8 minutes, the Cats have committed 5 fouls to only 2 fouls for Vanderbilt. A pair of turnovers and 4 missed shots allowed Vanderbilt to take its first lead, 17-16, with 8:40 left in the first half. Ashton Hagans eases the Cats back on top by a point, 18-17, at the under 8 media timeout. A Vanderbilt 3 pointer gives Vanderbilt its biggest lead, 2 points, 20-18. After a pair of free throws by Ashton Hagans, Vanderbilt moves on top by 3, 25-22, with another 3 point basket. After a pair of free throws by Tyrese Maxey trims the lead to 1 point, Vanderbilt moves on top by 4 with yet another 3 point basket, 28-24. Immanuel Quickley makes a jump shot from the right corner to trim the lead to 2, 28-26, at the under 4 media timeout with 3:16 left in the first half.

In the final segment, Vanderbilt moves on top by 4, 32-28, and Coach Calipari takes a timeout with about 35 seconds left in the half. The Cats fail to score, and Vanderbilt makes another 3-point basket to extend its lead to a game high 7 points, 35-28 at the half.

The Cats scored 28 points on 33 possessions, 0.848 points per possession, and VANDERBILT managed their 35 points on 32 possessions, 1.094 ppp. The Cats made 38.5% of their first half shots, including 1-6 from outside the arc. VANDERBILT managed to make 51.9% of their first half shots, including 5-12 from outside the arc.

The Cats committed 8 turnovers in the first half to 6 turnovers by Vanderbilt.

The Cats made 7-7 free throws (100.0%) and VANDERBILT made 2-4 (50.0%).

On the Boards, each team grabbed 15 rebounds in the first half, and the Cats controlled the offensive glass 4-3. Kentucky earned an advantage on second chance points of 2-0. The Cats secured 25.0% of their misses and allowed VANDERBILT to grab 21.4% of their misses as second chance opportunities.

Second Half:

Vanderbilt opens the second half with turnover, and the Cats return the favor before Vanderbilt extends their lead to 9 points on a pair of free throws following E. J. Montgomery's second foul. After Vanderbilt's second free throw, Tyrese Maxey fouls the shooter while blocking out for a rebound. Vanderbilt gets a bonus possession from the foul. After the Cats score on Nick Richards's basket, his first points of the game, Vanderbilt moves on top by 10 with a 3 point basket, 40-30. The Cats score 6 straight to trim the lead to 4 points, but Vanderbilt makes another 3 point basket to move back on top by 7, 43-36. Ashton Hagans makes a basket and is fouled to trim the lead to 5, 43-38 at the under 16 media timeout, and Ashton Hagans will have a free throw after the break to complete the 3 point play. The Cats trim the lead to 4, but Vanderbilt moves back on top by 8, 47-39. Nick Richards gets his 3 rd foul with 13:40 left in the game. The Cats score the next 5 points to pull within 2 points, 47-45, and E. J. Montgomery will have a free throw after the under 12 media timeout to complete a 3 point play.

After E. J. Montgomery trims the lead to 1 point, Vanderbilt makes another 3 point basket to move on top by 4 points, 50-46. Immanuel Quickley makes a 3 point play to pull the Cats to within 1 point, 50-49. The Cats get into the lead, 51-50, but Vanderbilt wastes no time in moving back up by a point. Immanuel Quickley makes a pair of free throws to switch the 1 point lead again in Kentucky's favor, 53-52 at the under 8 media timeout.

Out of the timeout, the Cats go up by 3 on a lob to Nick Richards. Vanderbilt trims the lead to 2 points on a free throw, 1-2, following the 4 th foul on Ashton Hagans. The Cats move on top by a game high 5 points on a 3 pointer by Tyrese Maxey, but Vanderbilt answers with a 3 pointer of their own, Vanderbilt's 9 th of the game. The Cats move on top by a game high 7 points, 65-58 on a pull up jump shot by Tyrese Maxey just before the under 4 media timeout with 3:34 left in the game. Vanderbilt will be at the line for a pair of free throws after the break.

The two Vanderbilt free throws trim the lead to 5 points, 65-60. Tyrese Maxey's basket puts the Cats back up by 7 with 2:15 left and Vanderbilt takes a timeout. The last 2 minutes turned into the Nick Richards show with rebounds at one end and dunks at the other end to extend the lead to 11, 71-60.

Cats survive a dismal first half with Nick Richards's foul trouble and win by 9, 71-62.


UK scored its 71 points on 65 possessions (1.092 ppp) for the game, and VANDERBILT scored its 62 points on 65 possessions (0.954 ppp).

Kentucky won the battle of the boards 37-29, and Kentucky controlled the offensive glass 10-8, which produced a 11-0 advantage on second chance points for the Cats. VANDERBILT had an offensive efficiency of 0.954 ppp on its 65 first chance possessions and 0.000 ppp for its 8 second chance possessions. UK had 0.923 ppp on its 65 first chance possessions and 1.100 ppp on its 10 second chance possessions. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed 32.3%of its misses as offensive rebounds while VANDERBILT was able to convert 22.9% of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.

UK hit well from the free throw line in this game, making 16-19 [84.2%]. VANDERBILT made 11-16 [68.8%] for the game. Field goal shooting for UK was 26-56 overall [46.4%] and 3-10 from long range [30.0%]. For Vanderbilt, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was 12-28 [42.9%] and from long range, VANDERBILT hit 9-26 [34.6%].

The Cats committed 11 turnovers, one for every 5.9 possessions. The Cats forced 12 VANDERBILT turnovers, one for every 5.4 possessions.

Next Game On Schedule: Saturday evening at Auburn in the Cats' twenty first regular season game and the 8 th game of the 2020 SEC season.

Submitted by Richard Cheeks


Submitted by Richard Cheeks



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