By RICHARD CHEEKS
When a team gets an offensive rebound, it receives a bonus shot at the basket, an opportunity to score that is not matched by an opponent’s corresponding opportunity. Some analysts treat the offensive rebound as the beginning of a new possession, others treat it as a continuation of the original possession. Regardless of the statistical treatment, the rebounding team gets another chance to score. Similarly, when a team commits a turnover, it ends a possession without getting an opportunity to score. These two aspects of a basketball game have the same net impact, relative to the teams. One team gains a scoring opportunity relative to its opponent.
One thing about this team that has been prevalent all season long, starting with the struggles with Maryland, and exposed again on Saturday by the Hogs, is the propensity of opponents getting significantly more shots at the basket than the Kentucky team. In 20 of the 29 games, the Cats got fewer shot attempts than their opponents, and in 9 of those games, the shot differential was 10 or more, and in 3 games, including yesterday, the differential exceed 20 shots. In 13 of the 16 SEC games, the Cats got fewer shot attempts than their opponents, and in 7 of those games, the shot differential was 10 or more, and in 2 games, including yesterday, the differential exceed 20 shots.
What is even more disturbing about this tendency is the pattern of the games in which these Cats managed to win these most fundamental aspects of the basketball games and lose them. In the 9 games in which the Cats got more shots, they occurred against LaFayette, Baylor, Samford, Portland, Lipscomb, Marshall, Tennessee (Knoxville), Vandy (Rupp), and Mississippi State. That is not exactly the crème de la crème of the 2012-13 slate of opponents. Against Maryland, Duke, Notre Dame, Louisville, the first 11 SEC games (Through Florida (Gainesville)), and against Missouri and at Arkansas the Cats were outshot a total of 189 shots, an average of over 11 shots per game. What is amazing is that the Cats managed to win 11 of those 17 games because giving opponents on average more than 11 more chances to score than you have is not a formula for winning, it is the equation for losing.
And this pattern started in game 1 (Maryland with 19 more shots), and continued through the first 6 games in which the Cats only got more shots than LaFayette. That pattern defined this team early on, and that tendency has really not improved, with Missouri getting 19 more shots and Arkansas getting 26 more shots. And, the +26 shots that Arkansas enjoyed was not even the season high (LOW) because Ole Miss had a 29 shot advantage.
This analysis does not provide any information that a UK fan has not already recognized this season, but perhaps puts the magnitude of this issue into some perspective for a fan. Did you know that Jon Hood, for all the criticism that has been thrown in his direction, gets an offensive rebound every 20 minutes of playing time, which is more often than every other player on this roster except Alex Poythress,Willie Cauley-Stein, and Nerlens Noel?
Georgia enters this game with a 14-15 record, 8-8 in the SEC. The three of the eight Bulldog losses in SEC play have occurred at home, #266 Mississippi State by 11, #1 Florida by 17, and to #71 Alabama by 7. The Bulldogs have won 3 SEC road games, at #91 Texas A&M by 7, at #205 South Carolina by 11, and at #64 Tennessee by 6. During their non-conference schedule, the Dawgs posted a 6-3 record at home. Georgia’s most impressive win this season has been their two game sweep of Tennessee, and their most embarrassing loss has been at home to Mississippi State by 11. Overall, Georgia’s schedule has been very respectable the 56th most difficult in D1 basketball (0.6585 per Pomeroy).
At 8-8 with two games remaining, the Bulldogs are jockeying for SEC Tournament seeding in the Thursday portion of the tournament schedule. Georgia will not be in the bottom four or the top four spots regardless of the outcome of their final two games.
GEORGIA has averaged about 64 possessions per game, producing 60.4 ppg (0.94 ppp) and allowing 61.4 ppg (0.95 ppp). GEORGIA has turned the ball over on 23.1% of its possessions while forcing turnovers on 18.7% of opponent possessions. On the Boards, GEORGIA has secured an offensive rebounding rate of 30.8% about 2 to 3% below the 33% NCAA average, and a defensive rebounding rate of 70.0%, about about 3% better than the NCAA average.
In contrast, the Cats have averaged about 69 possessions per game, producing 74.8 ppg (1.08 ppp) and allowing 64.7 ppg (0.94 ppp) against a schedule strength of 0.6373 (67th). The Cats have committed turnovers on 19.4% of its possessions and forced turnovers on 17.7% of opponent possessions. On the Boards, the Cats’ rebounding rates have been 34.5% and 68.4% on the offensive and defensive ends.
Based on this distribution, the analysis tips in favor of Kentucky by 3 points, 67-64 in a game played at a pace of 67 possessions for the Cats and 66 possessions for GEORGIA. Pomeroy figures the Game in Kentucky’s favor by 3 points, 65-62 at a pace of 64 possessions. The likely margin range for this matchup is Georgia by 6 to Kentucky by 12 points.