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By RICHARD CHEEKS
The Championship game defeat by UConn was not just disappointing, it was plain ugly.Ã‚Â The whole world can identify the two areas of weakness for this team, lack of quality depth [foul trouble] and lack of a substantial inside presence, particularly on defense.Ã‚Â The differenceÃ‚Â was that UConn not just identified those weaknesses; they showed the rest of the world how to expose and exploit these weaknesses when playing the Cats.
Washington exposed the depth issue, and used that foul trouble to erase a huge first half deficit of their own, but their 1-point halftime lead was not enough to hold off the Cats in the second half.Ã‚Â UConn on the other hand managed to get the Cats into foul trouble while playing on slightly better than even terms in the first 10 minutes, and their landslide buried the Cats in a hole that they could not climb out of in the second half.Ã‚Â But for their offensive outburst at the beginning of the Washington game that produced the early 20-6 lead, the Cats would be limping home with two Hawaiian losses instead of one.
The UConn game plan was clear, first work to expose the lack of depth by getting 2 of the key players into foul trouble, forcing Calipari to move down his bench, and then pound the ball inside, each and every trip down the floor.Ã‚Â That game plan worked to perfection, and the result, a 17-point loss, frankly could have been even worse because the Cats clearly rocked back on their collective heels, wobbled, and were ready to fall to the mat.Ã‚Â To their credit, the Cats somehow managed to at least remain standing in the second half.Ã‚Â However, they never really lost that dazed and confused, glassy eyed look even at the end when they had to know that UConn had handed them their collective rear ends.
Next up:Ã‚Â Boston University, the pre-season favorite to win the American East Conference.Ã‚Â Last year, Boston University finishedÃ‚Â 21-14, losing in the third round of the NIT to Virginia Commonwealth by 13 points.Ã‚Â Boston University ended the season with a Pomeroy rating of #110.
Boston University has already played seven games, winning four.Ã‚Â They have defeated #169 George Washington by 9, #314 Marist by 21, #206 Nevada by 9, and #192 Cornell by 5.Ã‚Â Their loses have been to #159 Northeastern by 2, #207 Hampton by 1, and to #9 Vilanova by 16.Ã‚Â Boston University has played these games at an average pace of about 64 possessions, averaging 63.7 points per game and allowing 60.1 points per game.Ã‚Â This translates to an offensive efficiency of 0.994 points per possession and a defensive efficiency of 0.947 points per possession.Ã‚Â Boston UniversityÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s turnover rate has been 20.4 percent while they have forced turnovers at an 20.8 percent rate.Ã‚Â On the Boards, Boston UniversityÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s offensive and defensive rebounding rates have been 36.7 percent and 63.0 percent respectively.
As a basis of comparison, UKÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s performance against its first five opponents produced 69 possessions, and a score of 76.8 to 65.6 points per game for efficiencies of 1.172 points per possession and 0.891 points per possession on the offensive and defensive ends.Ã‚Â UKÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s turnover rate is 16.8 percent but UK only forced turnovers at a 17.1 percent rate.Ã‚Â On the boards, the Cats posted rates of 39.4 percent andÃ‚Â 71.4 percent at the offensive and defensive ends.Ã‚Â KentuckyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s current Pomeroy SOS value is 0.8064 while Boston UniversityÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s is only 0.4865.
The NGE analysis indicates a game played at a pace of about 66 possessions with the Cats winning for the fifth time in six starts this season by 22 points, 77-55.Ã‚Â The analysis projects an offensive efficiency of 1.167 points per possession and a defensive efficiency of 0.833 points per possession.