2019-20 Season Analytical Writings

And Then There Were Two

Prior to Saturday's games, there were three contenders two games behind and still within reasonable reach of the Cats for the SEC regular season championship. Auburn came from down 17 in the second half to beat Tennessee and keep pace with the Cats. LSU survived its trip to Columbia South Carolina to keep pace with the Cats. The Cats took care of business and handed Florida its 5 th SEC loss at Rupp, effectively eliminating the Gators from contention for the SEC regular season championship.

And then there were two chasing the Cats who have a commanding 2 game lead with 4 games to play. This week, LSU travels to face Florida, needing another road win to keep pace with the Cats, and Auburn will entertain Mississippi before its trip to Lexington next Saturday to face the league leading Cats. The Cats are in total control of their own destiny in this race. By next Sunday, the Cats will either have the deal sealed with 2 games to play or the Cats will stumble at least once this week and allow Auburn to hang around to the last scheduled games.

This week, the Cats travel to College Station, Texas to face the A&M Aggies. TEXAS A&M brings its 14-12, 8-6 record into the Tuesday night's encounter with the Cats. However, TEXAS A&M has won its last 3 games over #97 Georgia by 5 (0.13 ppp Game ANE), #43 Alabama by 6 (0.30 ppp Game ANE), and #46 Mississippi State by 12 (0.28 ppp Game ANE), which represents the Aggies strongest three game sequence of the season for the Aggies

Kentucky brings a six-game winning streak into this game. After losing at #36 Auburn, the Cats have beaten #46 Mississippi State by 8 (0.21 ppp Game ANE), #54 Tennessee by 13 (0.42 ppp Game ANE), #150 Vanderbilt by 14 (0.29 ppp Game ANE), #99 Mississippi by 5 (0.12 ppp Game ANE), #33 LSU by 3 (0.29 ppp Game ANE), and #36 Florida by 6 (0.22 ppp Game ANE), which is an average ANE of 0.26 ppp over these last six games.

TEXAS A&M's season ANE of 0.036 ppp against a schedule strength of 0.063 ppp and an average tempo of 65.8 possessions per game. Kentucky's season ANE of 0.209 ppp against a schedule strength of 0.079 ppp at an average tempo of 69.1. The ANE analysis based on these season profiles points to an 8-point Kentucky win, 71-63 in a game played with 67 possessions.

It is intuitively clear than not all 8-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 TEXAS A&M. Johnny Juzang, Nate Sestina and Keion Brooks will come off the bench.

Kentucky controls the opening tip but Texas A&M steals the tip and score on a layup after only 3 seconds of play. After the Aggies move on top by a game high 4 points, 8-4, the Cats score 8 straight to take a 4 point lead, 12-8, and lead by a game high 5 points, 19-14, at the under 16 media timeout with 15:01 left in the first half. In the opening segment, A&M hit all 4 of their 3 point attempts, and the Cats' Immanuel Quickley made all 3 of his 3 point attempts. In the second segment, the Cats extend their lead to a game high 10 points, 24-14 on a dunk by E. J. Montgomery and a 3 point basket by Tyrese Maxey. At the under 12 media timeout, the Cats lead by 8, 24-16.

In the 3 rd segment, UK only added 2 points but Texas A&M only managed to score 1 point, leaving the Cats in a 9 point lead, 26-17, at the under 8 media timeout. In the 4 th segment, the Cats turn the ball over on their first two possessions and Texas A&M cuts the lead to 4, 26-22, on a basket at the hoop and another 3 point basket. The Cats stop the Aggies run with the Cats' 5 th 3 point basket by Immanuel Quickley, his 4 th 3 point basket of the game. Texas A&M takes a timeout. The Cats lead by 7, 31-24, at the under 4 media timeout with 3:04 left in the first half and Texas A&M in possession.

After Texas A&M trims the lead to 6, Nate Sestina makes a 3 point basket from the left corner and E. J. Montgomery gets a dunk on a lob to move on top by a game high 11 points, 36-25. Texas A&M closes the first half with a pair of free throws and the Cats lead by 9, 36-27 at the half.

The Cats scored 36 points on 32 possessions, 1.125 points per possession, and TEXAS A&M managed their 27 points on 32 possessions, 0.844 ppp. The Cats made 50.0% of their first half shots, including 6-12 from outside the arc. TEXAS A&M managed to make 36.0% of their first half shots, including 5-13 from outside the arc.

The Cats committed 8 turnovers in the first half to 7 turnovers by TEXAS A&M.

The Cats made 2-2 free throws (100.0%) and TEXAS A&M made 4-6 (66.7%).

On the Boards, Kentucky controlled the glass with a 20-12 advantage, and Kentucky controlled the offensive glass with a 5-3 margin. The Cats have a 11-1 point advantage on second chance points. The Cats secured 35.7% of their misses and allowed TEXAS A&M to grab 16.7% of their misses as second chance opportunities.

Second Half:

Kentucky opens the second half with a basket, and then add their 7 th 3 point basket to move on top by a game high 14, 41-27. Texas A&M takes a time out with 17:54 left in the game. After their time out, Texas A&M gets a second chance 3 point basket to pull within 11. After the Cats move back on top by 14 with a 3 point play by Ashton Hagans, Nick Richards commits his 3 rd foul and leaves the game. Texas A&M goes inside with Nick Richards on the bench and score, and after a Kentucky miss, the Aggies hit another 3 point basket to trim the lead to 9 points, 44-35, forcing a Kentucky time out with 15:49 left in the game. After the Kentucky time out, the Aggies cut 3 more points from the lead, to 6 points, with 1 of 2 from the line and a basket around a Cat turnover. Immanuel Quickley stops the Aggies run with back to back 3 point baskets to extend the lead back to 12, the lead at the under 12 media timeout, 50-38. In the 3 rd segment, the Cats and Aggies each scored 2 points, and with 8:03 left, Ashton Hagans hits an Aggies player in the face. The officials sent the team to the benches to review whether a flagrant foul had occurred.

After the review, no flagrant foul was assessed and play resumed. Back to back 3 point baskets by Texas A&M trims the lead to 7, 57-50 with 3:47 left in the game. Texas A&M uses a timeout. After the time out, Texas A&M forces Kentucky into a shot clock violation. Cats close out the game with 7-8 from the foul line and win by 9, 69-60.


UK scored its 69 points on 62 possessions (1.113 ppp) for the game, and TEXAS A&M scored its 60 points on 62 possessions (0.968 ppp).

Kentucky won the battle of the boards 31-23, and TEXAS A&M and Kentucky each grabbed 6 offensive rebounds, which produced a 13-4 advantage for the Cats on second chance points. TEXAS A&M had an offensive efficiency of 0.903ppp on its 62 first chance possessions and 0.667 ppp for its 6 second chance possessions. UK had 0.902 ppp on its 62 first chance possessions and 2.167 ppp on its 6 second chance possessions. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed 26.1%of its misses as offensive rebounds while TEXAS A&M was able to convert 19.4% of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.

UK hit well from the free throw line in this game, making 10-11 [90.9%]. TEXAS A&M made 10-14 [71.4%] for the game. Field goal shooting for UK was 24-46 overall [52.2%] and 11-22 from long range [50.0%]. For TEXAS A&M, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was 10-26 [38.5%] and from long range, TEXAS A&M hit 10-22 [45.5%].

The Cats committed 17 turnovers, one for every 3.6 possessions. The Cats forced 13 TEXAS A&M turnovers, one for every 4.8 possessions.

Next Game On Schedule: Saturday afternoon against Auburn at Rupp in a game that could seal the Cats' 50 th regular season SEC Championship with a win in the Cats' twenty ninth regular season game and the 16 th game of the 2020 SEC season.

Submitted by Richard Cheeks



Submitted by Richard Cheeks


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