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By RICHARD CHEEKS

I have been tracking the performance of UK basketball teams since the early 1990, and I have been writing about the games, before and after the actual games, for about 6 years.  Never have I struggled to find a theme for a team, a season, or a series of games within a season.  When I finally had time to write about the upcoming Texas A&M game on Friday, I was heavily medicated, and I attributed my mental block to the medication.  However, as I sit here on a Sunday afternoon, the block is stronger and the medications of Friday and Saturday no longer provide a viable excuse.  Yet, excuses are on my mind.

— The team is so young.
— The team does not have any upperclassman to provide leadership or set the proper examples.
— Some players seem content to simply bide their time in a Kentucky uniform until they the day arrives when they can get paid to play.

There has been an uncharacteristic steady flow of excuses swirling around this team and this season.  But, excuses are for losers.  This team has the size it needs to rebound, and the length it needs to play an intimidating brand of defense.  This team has the shooters to take any opponent out of a zone defense.  There is a disconnect between what this team can do, and what this team is doing.  It is Coach Calipari’s responsibility to eliminate that disconnect.   I have no doubt that he has been doing everything within his ability to do just that.  However, time is running out.  On Tuesday, the Cats play Tennessee, an opponent that the Cats should handle routinely under usual circumstances, but this team should have handled Baylor routinely.  This team should have put a pitiful Vanderbilt team away in Nashville earlier this week, and this team should not have been challenged by Texas A&M in Rupp Arena yesterday.

However, we all understand that “should have’s” are not ever the definition of what “is”.  After the Tennessee game, these Cats take to the road for 4 of their next 5 games, traveling to Auburn, Alabama, Mississippi, and a rematch at Texas A&M on February 2.  If they do not figure out this puzzle now, by the time this team returns home, it may be too late.

Tennessee will enter Rupp Arena on Tuesday with an 8-6 record, winless in their first 2 SEC games of this season.  Tennessee has played an ambitious non-conference schedule that includes #22 Oklahoma State, #40 Memphis, #46 Virginia, and #60 Georgetown.  Each of those games handed the Vols a loss.  However, Tennessee claims a win over #27 Wichita State.  The Vols’ SEC  schedule started with a home loss to #20 Mississippi by 18 points, and a road loss to #83 Alabama by 3 points.

Tennessee has averaged about 65 possessions per game, producing 65.2 ppg (1.00 ppp) and allowing 61.8 ppg (0.96 ppp) against an early schedule that Pomeroy rates as the 61st toughest (0..5867).  Tennessee has turned the ball over on 19.1% of its possessions while forcing turnovers on 17.1% of opponent possessions.  On the Boards, Tennessee has secured an offensive rebounding rate of 34.3% about 1% above the 33% NCAA average, and a defensive rebounding rate of 72.0%, about 5% above the NCAA average.

In contrast, the Cats have averaged about 71 possessions per game, producing 77.4 ppg (1.10 ppp) and allowing 61.8 ppg (0.89 ppp) against a schedule strength of 0..5260  (139th).  The Cats have committed turnovers on 18.1% of its possessions and forced turnovers on 20.9% of opponent possessions.  On the Boards, the Cats’ rebounding rates have been 34.7% and 68.7% on the offensive and defensive ends.

Based on this distribution, the analysis tips in favor of the Cats by 17 points, 75-58 in a game played at a pace of 68 possessions for the Cats and 68 possessions for Tennessee.  Pomeroy figures the Game in Kentucky’s favor by 14 points, 74-60 at a pace of 68 possessions.  From my perspective, a margin of 26 points or more would be a very strong performance while a margin in single digits would be a weak one.

The pre-game performance measures for Tennessee are almost identical to those that Texas A&M carried into Saturday’s game against the Cats.

9 Responses to Guest post: Cats Searching For Identities Following Second Rupp Loss and numbers project win by 17

  • Even without the medication…” no one ” could have predicted the game Turner had for Texas AM. Glad to see you feel better, I very much enjoy your breakdown post…

  • kywildcat_96 says:

    How about we call this team – “The Freshmen”
    I was at the game Saturday and was rather disappointed in our performance in that game as well as many other games this season. On the ride home I accepted the fact that none of our contributors played last year, most are freshmen, and this is what freshmen do. It made me realize just how phenomenal the past 3 seasons have been. Being mediocre isn’t much fun, but at least we might get to see a few of these men stay a few years and watch them grow (i.e. Liggins)
    I will also say that I wish it wasn’t against us, but watching Turner Saturday was pretty awesome.

    • RJ says:

      I think you are spot on with this team. I also sometimes think this team is a bit on the lazy side. Success in high school does not always translate into success in college and at this level there is no hiding lack of effort or lack of understanding the intensity it takes to win on a consitant basis. When a few of the current freshmen fails to make the “one and done” catagory, it might make them reintensify their focus.

      • UKFAN197TONE says:

        RJ, I’m with you, MOST of the team seems lazy. But one would think, after this many games/loses…someone would knock over a gatorade table and say let’s get this BEEP under control and WIN the games we are SUPPOSED to win.

  • DD Riley says:

    Glad you’re doing well, Prof. And, keep up the good work!

  • Bob says:

    There was acouple people got somewhat upset with me when i disagreed with there predictions last year for this years team .I will repeat myself there will be several losses this year due to no team leader as of years pass and last years sweep of the SEC . I agree this team lacks effort from some key players . I think Alex P. needs to get his head out of his ass and play like the star i know he is . This back court needs to learn to play together better and control the tempo of the game and the handle the ball better . As an team they need to relax and hit there freethrows . Anyone remember John Wall and Co. lost to W. Va. because even though they couldn’t buy an basket they missed enough points in free throws to win that game . With this said we are going to be alright come March . But right now lets get use to the bumps as our team matures .I’m glad to Prof you are OK from you Accident and MGB you. GO BIG BLUE

  • Mike says:

    The Sports Zone in Nashville was lamenting the poor play to date of Vandy. They said if Vandy had landed AP they would be much better. How much more delusional can they be? I can see him sleep walking in Memorial as well. Someone needs to knock him upside the head and ask if anyone home…..either that or put him under house arrest for impersonating a BB player and Mickey D’s as well.

  • TheProfessor says:

    Analysis:

    UK scored its 75 points in 70 possessions [1.07 ppp] for the game, and TENNESSEE scored its 65 points on 68 possessions [0.96 ppp].

    Kentucky won the boards, with a rebounding edge 36-30, and Kentucky won the offensive glass with a 8-7 offensive rebounding advantage. TENNESSEE converted its 7 second chance possessions into 5 second chance points while Kentucky converted their 8 second chance possessions to score 9 second chance points. TENNESSEE had an offensive efficiency of 0.882 ppp on its 68 first chance possessions and 0.714 ppp for its 7 second chance possessions. UK had 0.943 ppp on its 70 first chance possessions and 1.125 ppp on its 8 second chance possessions. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed 25.8% of its misses as offensive rebounds while TENNESSEE was able to convert 20.0% of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.
    Poorly from the free throw line in this game, making 19-31 [61.3%]. TENNESSEE made 11-17 [64.7%] for the game. Field goal shooting for UK was 25-51 overall [49.0%] and 6-15 from long range [40.0%]. For TENNESSEE, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was a strong 21-42 [50.0%] and from long range, TENNESSEE hit 4-12 [33.3%].

    The Cats who committed 13 turnovers, one for every 5.4 possessions. The Cats forced 13 TENNESSEE turnovers, one for every 5.2 possessions.

    Prior to the game, the NGE analysis predicted a 17 point UK win, 75-58 at a pace of 68 possessions for UK and 68 possessions for Tennessee. The final score was 75 (75) to 65 (58) at a pace of 70 possessions for the Cats and 68 possessions for TENNESSEE. The UK offensive efficiency for the game was 1.071 ppp (1.103 ppp) and the UK defensive efficiency was 0.956 ppp (0.853 ppp).

    Next Game On Schedule: January 19, 2013 At Auburn.

  • Larry Pup says:

    Great win, but Cats were very fortunate. Lot tougher game than the score indicates. It was tied with a little over 6 min. to go. Kyle was the star.

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