2019-20 Season Analytical Writings

Cats Return to Rupp To Face Surging Mississippi State

The Cats outshot Auburn from the field from inside and outside the arc, but their field goal shooting was not enough to offset Auburn's dominance on the Boards that produced a 6-17 deficit on second chance points. Add the fact that the officials awarded Auburn 44 free throws to Kentucky's 24 that further dug a hole for the Cats to the tune of a 20-33 scoring deficit from the line. Those two factors produced a scoring deficit of 27-50, and it is quite amazing that the Cats were still in the game with 4 minutes to play and two starters having fouled out.

While the Cats have dropped a second road game in SEC play, at South Carolina and at Auburn, the most recent game trends should be sounding alarms within the Wildcat camp. Against a weak Vanderbilt team, the Cats game ANE at Rupp was only 0.084 ppp, which was the weakest game by the Cats since they fell to Utah in Las Vegas before Christmas. However, against Auburn, the game ANE remained very low, 0.105 ppp.

In contrast, Mississippi State will enter Rupp Arena Tuesday night as one of, if not the hottest team in the SEC. The Bulldogs have won 5 of their last six games, and their low point over the last 3 weeks occurred in the SEC-Big 12 challenge with their 1 point loss at Oklahoma with a game ANE of 0.164 ppp. In their five wins in this run, Mississippi State's game ANEs have been 0.535 ppp, 0.576 ppp, 0.194 ppp, 0.357 ppp, and 0.338 ppp. The Bulldogs have played better basketball over the course of these six games than this Kentucky team has played in any single game since beating Michigan State in the season opener.

Against this backdrop for Tuesday's game, this specific game will be the most important game on Mississippi States remaining SEC schedule because a win over the Cats at Rupp in all likelihood will elevate the Bulldogs into the driver's seat for the 4 th two round bye for the SEC Tournament next month. It is critical for the Cats as well, because any home loss in conference play is usually fatal to any opportunity to compete for a regular season SEC championship. IT IS TIME FOR THIS GROUP OF YOUNG CATS TO GROW UP!

Mississippi State's current ANE is an 0.187 ppp against a schedule strength of 0.063 ppp and a tempo of 66.5 possessions per game. The Cats bring an ANE of 0.199 ppp into this game having played a schedule strength of 0.067 ppp at a tempo of 69.7 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 , 73-68.

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:

Coach Calipari starts Tyrese Maxey, E. J. Montgomery, Nick Richards, Immanuel Quickley, and Ashton Hagans against Mississippi State. Nate Sestina, Keion Brooks, and Johnny Juzang will come off the bench.

Kentucky controls the opening tip and go inside to E. J. Montgomery by he misses on each of Kentucky's first 2 possessions. Tyrese Maxey opens the scoring on a layup off a steal, and Immanuel Quickley adds a 3 point play. Then E. J. Montgomery gets a layup to go on top 7-0. However, Mississippi State responds with a 9-2 run to tie the score, 9-9. The Cats move on top by 3, 12-9, on a 3 point basket by Immanuel Quickley. The Cats commit their first turnover to take the game to the under 16 media timeout with 14:31 left in the first half. After the break, Mississippi State pulls within 1 point from the free throw line. The Cats manage to move back on top by 3, 14-11 on a drive by Tyrese Maxey. At the under 12 media timeout, Mississippi State has the ball.

Mississippi State misses on their possession, and Tyrese Maxey makes a floater to extend the Cats' lead to 5, 16-11. After a Mississippi State turnover, Nate Sestina scores on a pick and roll to go back up by 7 for the second time, 18-11, and again 20-13 on another basket by Nate Sestina. After Mississippi State makes 1 of 2 from the line, the Cats move on top by a game high 8 points on a 10 foot jump shot by Nate Sestina, 22-14, which remains the score at the under 8 media timeout with 6:53 left in the first half.

After the break, Mississippi State trims the lead to 6 on basket that the Cats fail to match. After the Cats go back on top for the 4 th time by 8, 26-18, Mississippi State trims the lead to 5 with the Bulldogs' 2 nd 3 point basket. At the under 4 media timeout, the Cats have the ball under their basket with 11 seconds left on the shot clock, up by 5, 26-21, and 2:54 left in the first half.

The Cats open the final segment of the first half with a baseline jump shot by nri to extend their lead to 7 points, 28-21. E. J. Montgomery makes 1 of 2 from the line to go back up by 8, and following a Mississippi State turnover, the Cats move on top by a game high 10 points, 31-21.

The Cats lead by 8, 31-23 at the half.

The Cats scored 31 points on 31 possessions, 1.000 points per possession, and MISSISSIPPI STATE managed their 23 points on 30 possessions, 0.767 ppp. The Cats made 43.8% of their first half shots, including 1-5 from outside the arc. MISSISSIPPI STATE managed to make 31.0% of their first half shots, including 2-7 from outside the arc.

The Cats committed 5 turnovers in the first half to 5 turnovers by Mississippi State.

The Cats made 2-3 free throws (66.7%) and MISSISSIPPI STATE made 3-4 (75.0%).

On the Boards, Kentucky controlled the glass with a 21-18 advantage, and Kentucky owned the offensive glass with a 7-6 margin. Mississippi State earned a 5-2 advantage on second chance points. The Cats secured 36.8% of their misses and allowed MISSISSIPPI STATE to grab 30.0% of their misses as second chance opportunities.

Second Half:

Mississippi State opens the second half with turnover. Four free throws by Nick Richards is enough to offset a basket by Mississippi State and lift the Cats back on top by 10, 35-25. The Cats extend their lead to a game high 13, 38-25, on 1 of 2 from the line by Nick Richards, and a layup by Tyrese Maxey after a Mississippi State turnover. Mississippi State trims the lead to 10, 40-30 at the under 16 media timeout with 14:50 left in the game, and Mississippi State will have a free throw attempt to complete a 3 point play after the break.

Mississippi State trims the lead to 9 points on a 3 point basket, 45-36. The Cats finish the second segment with a basket by E. J. Montgomery and he was fouled on the shot. At the under 12 media timeout, the Cats lead by 11, 47-36 with 11:19 left in the game. E. J. Montgomery will have a free throw after the timeout to complete the 3 point play.

E. J. Montgomery makes the free throw, and after a Mississippi State turnover, the Cats go up by a game high 14 points on another basket by E. J. Montgomery. At the under 8 media timeout, the Cats lead by 12, 56-44, and Mississippi State will have a pair of free throws when play resumes. Mississippi State goes on a 10-4 run to cut the 14 point lead to only 6 points, 60-54 with 4:33 left in the game. Nick Richards makes a jump shot from the foul line, and Mississippi State turns the ball over to take the game to the final media timeout with 3:53 left and the Cats on top by 8, 62-54.

After Nick Richards extends the lead to 10, Mississippi State trims the lead to 7, 64-57 with a 3 point play.

Cats win 80-72.


UK scored its 80 points on 70 possessions (1.143 ppp) for the game, and MISSISSIPPI STATE scored its 72 points on 70 possessions (1.029 ppp).

Mississippi State won the battle of the boards 40-37, and Mississippi State controlled the offensive glass 17-9, which produced a 17-9 advantage on second chance points for the Bulldogs. MISSISSIPPI STATE had an offensive efficiency of 0.714 ppp on its 70 first chance possessions and 1.294 ppp for its 17 second chance possessions. UK had 1.086 ppp on its 70 first chance possessions and 0.444 ppp on its 9 second chance possessions. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed 28.1%of its misses as offensive rebounds while MISSISSIPPI STATE was able to convert 37.8% of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.

UK hit well from the free throw line in this game, making 31-36 [86.1%]. MISSISSIPPI STATE made 17-21 [81.0%] for the game. Field goal shooting for UK was 24-54 overall [44.4%] and 1-10 from long range [10.0%]. For Mississippi State, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was 20-52 [38.5%] and from long range, MISSISSIPPI STATE hit 5-16 [31.3%].

The Cats committed 8 turnovers, one for every 8.8 possessions. The Cats forced 10 MISSISSIPPI STATE turnovers, one for every 7.0 possessions.

Next Game On Schedule: Saturday afternoon at Tennessee in the Cats' twenty third regular season game and the 10 th game of the 2020 SEC season.

Submitted by Richard Cheeks


Submitted by Richard Cheeks


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