EXPLANATION OF DATA AND
Kentucky Wins Ugly on the Road
Kentucky stands tonight as the only SEC unbeaten this season in conference play. Tonight, the Wildcats survived a road test presented by the Ole Miss Rebels, and won ugly 53 - 50. Trailing by as many as 16 points [14 - 29] with less than one minute to play in the first half, the Cats closed out the scoring in the first half with 2 free throws and scored the first 6 points of the second half to claw back into the game.
Kentucky made several runs in the second half, but each time Kentucky cut the lead to 2 points, Mississippi responded with a mini-run to push the lead back to the 5 to 7 point range. That is, everything except the last time. Kentucky tied the score at 48, and took its first [and only] lead at 49-48 on a Rondo free throw. Maintained its unbeaten status in the SEC by securing a perfunctory road victory over the hapless Georgia Bulldogs. 76 - 55.
This game provides a great platform to discuss the meaning of winning a game ugly. Kentucky shot poorly and did not protect the ball as it has done all season. While Kentucky's defense was more effective, holding Mississippi to just over 0.7 points per possession for the game, Mississippi's offensive efficiency was higher for the game than Kentucky's offensive efficiency. As a general rule, the team that posts the higher game offensive efficiency will win. However, there are exceptions to this general rule, as tonight's game proves.
First, Kentucky enjoyed 7 more possessions, on the strength of Kentucky's offensive rebounding advantage, and Kentucky converted those additional opportunities into points at a pace of about 1.44 points per second chance possession. Tonight, Kentucky was able to win the game on the strength of its second chance points provided by the offensive rebounding that produced seven bonus possessions.
This is the fourth game in which Kentucky's opponent posted a higher offensive efficiency. Kentucky lost to UNC and Kansas, and defeated Louisville and now Mississippi.
Kentucky's offensive efficiency for the game was an anemic 0.688 ppp, significantly lower than the 0.890 ppp I predicted. On defense, Kentucky held Mississippi to 0.714 ppp, also lower than the 0.787 ppp I predicted.
Based on this season's NCAA RPI Strength of Schedule and season performance, I predicted a nine point Kentucky margin, 71- 62.
During the Mississippi game, Kentucky had a total of 77 possessions, fifteen of which resulted from offensive rebounds. I was not able to watch the entire game due to previous commitments, so I don't have a record of second chance points for the first half. In the second half, Kentucky had 9 second chance possessions producing 13 second chance points. Kentucky's offensive efficiency for second chance possessions was 1.444 ppp, significantly higher than Kentucky's first chance efficiency. Mississippi had a total of 70 possessions for the game, 8 of which were second chance possessions. In the second half, Mississippi had 3 offensive rebounds and no second chance points.
Kentucky continues SEC conference play next Saturday in Rupp Arena against LSU.
Let's compare the teams as of January 19, 2005
Win-Loss Record 13 - 2 9 - 5
Based on each team's early performance with an adjustment for strength of schedule, I would make the following prediction based on data available 1/16/05 at 7 pm. I will update this prediction from time to time between now and game time as indicated by daily changes in the current Strength of Schedule factor.
UK 75 LSU 68