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Vaught’s note: Richard Cheeks was involved in an automobile accident Friday where his car was totaled, but he says “rather than being sore from head to foot” he’s fine with no broken bones. “Life is fragile, and can end in less than a second or two. Here is the pre-game for Texas A&M. However, I am heavily medicated, and I hope it is coherent,” Cheeks said. So thank Professor for his dedication to come home from an auto accident and write this pregame analysis for us.
By RICHARD CHEEKS
I have started writing about the next game on the Wildcats’ SEC journey three times, and each time I dispose of the paper, and struggle to find a more appropriate way to characterize a 2 point win on the road that could have been, and probably should have been a loss for this team. Fact is, I can’t paint this pig with the most expensive lip stick and make it anything other than a pig. It was ugly. It was unsettling, and it brought back many of the insecurities that the Baylor loss produced. However, Baylor was a home loss, and Thursday’s encounter at Vanderbilt is a road win. However, there is little time between games to lament or celebrate because another opponent will appear in a few days, and for Kentucky, it will be Texas A&M in less than 2 days.
Texas A&M also won its SEC opener this week, beating Arkansas by 18 points at home. Texas A&M will enter Rupp Arena on Saturday with an 11-3 overall record. The Aggies’ three losses have been to #42 St. Louis by 21 on a neutral floor, to #53 Oklahoma by 10 points at a semi-away venue, and to #171 Southern by 2 points at home. The Aggies’ most impressive win so far this season has been over #72 Arkansas by 18 on Wednesday night.
Texas A&M has averaged about 62 possessions per game, producing 65.5 ppg (1.05 ppp) and allowing 58.6 ppg (0.94 ppp) against an early schedule that Pomeroy rates as the 304th toughest (0..4043). Texas A&M has turned the ball over on 20.1% of its possessions while forcing turnovers on 21.4% of opponent possessions. On the Boards, Texas A&M has secured an offensive rebounding rate of 37.0% about 4% above the 33% NCAA average, and a defensive rebounding rate of 66.4%, about equal to the NCAA average.
In contrast, the Cats have averaged about 71 possessions per game, producing 77.9 ppg (1.09 ppp) and allowing 60.6 ppg (0.86 ppp) against a schedule strength of 0..5342 (156th). The Cats have committed turnovers on 18.2% of its possessions and forced turnovers on 21.2% of opponent possessions. On the Boards, the Cats’ rebounding rates have been 34.6% and 69.7% on the offensive and defensive ends.
Based on this distribution, the analysis tips in favor of the Cats by 19 points, 75-56 in a game played at a pace of 67 possessions for the Cats and 66 possessions for Texas A&M. Pomeroy figures the Game in Kentucky’s favor by 16 points, 71-55 at a pace of 64 possessions. From my perspective, a margin of 28 points or more would be a very strong performance while a margin in single digits would be a weak one.