2019-20 Season Analytical Writings

Cats Leave “A Tale of Two Teams” To Face Mississippi

On Tuesday night, it seemed the Kentucky Wildcats portrayed a modern version of Charles Dickens' 1859 opening lines for his “A Tale of Two Cities” when the Cats played its best of halves and the worst of halves in the same game. When the Cats fell behind Vanderbilt by 14 points late in the first half of the game, they clearly played their worst half of basketball of the season. When the Cats surged past Vanderbilt to post a 14-point victory at the final buzzer, they clearly played their best half of basketball this season. Some might prefer to compare this Kentucky team to Robert Louis Stevenson's “Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,” which he penned in 1886. In either case, this team more mindful of 19 th century struggles rather than the 21 st century promise for #9.

The most that can be said about Tuesday's win is that the Cats took care of business, leaving Nashville with a 19-5, 9-2 record. Now the focus shifts back to Rupp Arena and once again, the immediate task for the Cats is to take care of business against Mississippi, 13-11, 4-7, before closing the season at LSU, against Florida, Auburn and Tennessee at Rupp, and at Florida .

After opening their SEC season 1-7, Ole Miss enters Rupp Arena buoyed by a 3 game winning streak with a 14 point win over South Carolina (0.27 ppp Game ANE), 17 point win over Florida (0.39 ppp Game ANE), and a 25 point win over Mississippi State (0.48 ppp Game ANE). Mississippi has posted an average ANE over these last 3 games of 0.38 ppp.

Kentucky also brings a three-game winning streak into this game. After losing at Auburn, the Cats have beaten Mississippi State by 8 (0.22 ppp Game ANE), Tennessee by 13 (0.43 ppp Game ANE), and Vanderbilt by 14 (0.28 ppp Game ANE), which is an average ANE of 0.31 ppp over these last 3 games.

Mississippi's season ANE of 0.101 ppp against a schedule strength of 0.061 ppp and an average tempo of 68.8 possessions per game. Kentucky's season ANE of 0.207 ppp against a schedule strength of 0.69 ppp at an average tempo of 69.3. The ANE analysis based on these season profiles points to an 11 point Kentucky win, 75-64 in a game played with 69 possessions. However, these teams' recent performances suggest a much narrower margin in the low single digits.

It is intuitively clear than not all 11-point games 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 play more of their games in the green range than in the red range over the course of the season. Conversely, Calipari's weakest teams play more of their games in the red than in the green range. A game ANE moves toward the red zone with smaller margins (or losses) and toward the green zone with larger margins.

Game Summary:

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

Mississippi controls the opening tip and fail to score. Nick Richards opens the scoring with a base line jump shot. E. J. Montgomery adds a pair of free throws following an offensive rebound. However, the Cats are not able to expand on the early 4-0 lead despite holding Mississippi scoreless to the under 16 media timeout. After each team makes 2 of their next 3 shots, Mississippi pulls to within a point with the game's first 3 point basket, 8-7. The Cats close the segment with a 3 point lead, 10-7, and Immanuel Quickley will have a pair of free throws after the break.

Immanuel Quickley makes the first, but misses the second free throw. Points come hard for the Cats as they only manage to add one basket to the one free throw in the 3 rd segment, while Mississippi trims the lead to only 2 points, 13-11, at the under 8 media timeout. Nate Sestina will be at the line after this timeout.

In the first 12 minutes, the Cats have only managed 13 points on 19 possessions, and but for an inept Mississippi offense that only scored 11 points on 20 possession, the Cats would be in more trouble that the small, 2 point lead. In the 4 th segment, Mississippi moves on top by a point, 17-16, and after the Cats regain a 1 point lead, Mississippi goes back on top and a 3 point basket extends the lead to a game high 4 points, 22-18, forcing a Kentucky timeout with 3:49 left in the first half.

Nick Richards gets a second chance basket to trim the lead to 2 points, but Nick Richards cannot complete the 3 point play from the line. Mississippi responds with its 3 rd 3 point basket to go up by a game high 5 points, 25-20. The Cats trim the Mississippi lead to 2 points, 27-25, with the Cats' first 3 point basket of the game by Johnny Juzang.

The Cats trail Mississippi at the half, 27-25.

The Cats scored 25 points on 36 possessions, 0.694 points per possession, and MISSISSIPPI managed their 27 points on 37 possessions, 0.730 ppp. The Cats made 30.0% of their first half shots, including 1-13 from outside the arc. MISSISSIPPI managed to make 36.7% of their first half shots, including 3-7 from outside the arc.

The Cats committed 9 urnovers in the first half to 8 turnovers by Mississippi.

The Cats made 6-10 free throws (60.0%) and MISSISSIPPI made 2-3 (66.7%).

On the Boards, Kentucky controlled the glass with a 24-17 advantage, and Kentucky owned the offensive glass with a 7-2 margin. Kentucky earned a 6-2 advantage on second chance points. The Cats secured 31.8% of their misses and allowed MISSISSIPPI to grab 10.5% of their misses as second chance opportunities.

Second Half:

Kentucky opens the second half with a basket to tie the score, and after a second tie, 29-29, Mississippi scores 6 straight on a 3 point play and a 3 point basket, 35-29, and Mississippi leads by the game high 6 points, 37-31, at the under 16 media timeout. After the timeout, Nick Richards scores on the inbounds play, and Tyrese Maxey steals the ball leading to a layup by Ashton Hagans to trim the lead back to 2 points, 37-35, and Mississippi take a quick timeout with 15:02 left in the game. The Cats pull even at 37-37, and after the Mississippi coach received a technical foul, Immanuel Quickley made 1 of 2 as the Cats ease on top by a point. However, Mississippi goes right back on top, 39-38 on a second chance basket. Mississippi eases back on top by 3 with another second chance basket, and following another empty offensive trip by the Cats, Mississippi drains its 5 th 3 point basket to move on top by 6, 44-38, at the under 12 media timeout. In addition, Mississippi will have a free throw after the break to complete a 4 point trip and extend their lead to a game high 7 points, 45-38, with 11:39 left in the game.

After the Cats pull within 5 on a floater by Immanuel Quickley, E. J. Montgomery commits his 4 th foul with 10:45 left and Mississippi eases back up by 7. Immanuel Quickley hits the Cats' 2 nd 3 point basket to trim the lead to 4, and the Cats cut the lead to 2, 47-45. Immanuel Quickley gets to the line and ties the score, 47-47 with 8:43 left in the game. After a 49-49 tie, Mississippi goes on top with another 3 point basket, 52-49 at the under 8 media timeout. After Immanuel Quickley pulls the Cats within 1 point, Ashton Hagans commits his 4 th foul with 6:19 left. Immanuel Quickley lifts the Cats bac into a 1 point lead, 55-54 with a pair of free throws and 4:55 left in the game. Mississippi burns a timeout with 4:42 left in the game. After the timeout, Mississippi gets another 2 nd chance basket to move back into the lead. After the teams trade baskets and 1 point leads to an Mississippi lead, 58-57, Coach Calipari takes a timeout with 3:11 left in the game.

Nick Richards hits a pair from the line to give the Cats the 1 point lead with 2:10 left. After Mississippi retakes the lead, Tyrese Maxey gets a second chance basket. However, Mississippi goes back on top with a pair from the line, 62-61 with 1:20 left. Nick Richards gets back to the line on a rebounding foul and makes both to give the Cats a 1 point lead, 63-62 and Mississippi burns its last timeout with 1:07 left in the game.

Ashton Hagans fouls out with 57 seconds left, but Mississippi misses the front end of the bonus, and the Cats get the rebound. Kentucky takes a timeout with 39.4 left in the game and in possession of the ball. Kentucky turns the ball over with 29 seconds left, and Mississippi will have the final possession, down 1, with a chance to win the game on the final shot. Mississippi missed a 3 point shot with 7 seconds left, and Coach Calipari burns Kentucky's last timeout. The Cats get the ball in bounds to Immanuel Quickley, and Mississippi fouls Immanuel Quickley immediately. Immanuel Quickley makes both free throws to give the Cats a 3 point lead with 6.6 seconds left. Tyrese Maxey fouls but Mississippi misses the front end for a second time in a row. Keion Brooks rebounds the miss, is fouled, and makes them both to lift the Cats to a game high 5 point lead with 1 second left.

Cats win 67-62.


UK scored its 67 points on 69 possessions (0.971 ppp) for the game, and MISSISSIPPI scored its 62 points on 67 possessions (0.925 ppp).

Kentucky won the battle of the boards 41-33, and Kentucky controlled the offensive glass 11-8, which produced a 16-12 advantage on second chance points for the Cats. MISSISSIPPI had an offensive efficiency of 0.746 ppp on its 67 first chance possessions and 1.500 ppp for its 8 second chance possessions. UK had 0.739 ppp on its 69 first chance possessions and 1.455 ppp on its 11 second chance possessions. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed 30.6%of its misses as offensive rebounds while MISSISSIPPI was able to convert 21.1% of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.

UK hit well from the free throw line in this game, making 19-24 [79.2%]. MISSISSIPPI made 8-11 [72.7%] for the game. Field goal shooting for UK was 23-59 overall [39.0%] and 2-22 from long range [9.1%]. For Mississippi, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was 18-43 [41.9%] and from long range, MISSISSIPPI hit 6-17 [35.3%].

The Cats committed 11 turnovers, one for every 6.3 possessions. The Cats forced 12 MISSISSIPPI turnovers, one for every 5.6 possessions.

Next Game On Schedule: Tuesday night at LSU in the Cats' twenty sixth regular season game and the 13 th game of the 2020 SEC season.

Submitted by Richard Cheeks



Submitted by Richard Cheeks


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