By RICHARD CHEEKS
The Cats opened play in the quarterfinals of the SEC tournament against Georgia. Laying some recent demons to rest, the Cats scored first when De’Aaron Fox assisted Edrice (BAM) Adebayo for a driving dunk following a Georgia turnover. When De’Aaron Fox and Derek Willis added back to back 3 pointers, the Cats led 8-2, and never trailed in the game. The lead stood at 7 points at the half, and for much of the second half, the Cats played from leads of 11 to 18 points, finally settling for an 11 point win.
But for some sloppy free throw shooting down the stretch, and a flurry of second chance points in the last 90 seconds by Georgia, the final margin would have been closer to 20.
The other upper bracket quarterfinal game between favored South Carolina, the 4 seed, and Alabama, the 5 seed, Alabama pulled away at the end for an 11 point win. That game was played within a range of +/- 5 points for all but the final 2 minutes. This sets up the semi-final game for Saturday, Alabama vs Kentucky.
ALABAMA enters this game with a 19-13; 10-8 SEC regular season record and a winner over Mississippi State and South Carolina in the second and quarterfinal rounds of the SEC Tournament. Alabama finished the regular season with only one win (over #78 Mississippi by 15) in their last four games
ALABAMA enters this game with an ANE of 0.126 points per possession against strength of schedule of 0.0684 ppp (#60). The Cats enter this game with an ANE of 0.289 ppp against strength of schedule of 0.0962 ppp (#29).
The ANE analysis indicates a Kentucky win by 12 points, 76-64, at apace of 70 possessions. This would produce game efficiencies of 1.083 ppp and 0.912 ppp. Pomeroy sees this game in Kentucky’s favor by 10 points 74-64 at a pace of 69 possessions. Vegas opened favoring the Cats by 10 1/2 points.
Use the following link to see how other UK fans handicap this game at 247Sports, The Cats Pause message board:
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