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Kentucky Assured of Share of SEC East With Win Over Stubborn Auburn at Rupp


Kentucky played its next to last home game of the 2004-05 season and defeated a stubborn Auburn team tonight.  The win elevates Kentucky's record to 21 - 3, 12 - 1 in the SEC, a full 3 games ahead of Florida with three games remaining.  The win, coupled with Alabama's loss on Tuesday to LSU, leaves Kentucky with a 2 game lead over Alabama for the overall regular season championship, setting up Saturday afternoon's showdown of the SEC's premier teams in Tuscaloosa.

Kentucky was outrebounded by Auburn, continuing the Cats lackluster board work of the last 3 weeks.   Kentucky outscored Auburn by 4 points in each half to secure this 8 point victory.  However, with 10:23 to play, the game was dead even at 51 - 51.  The cats then asserted themselves, to close the game with a 30 - 22 run. 

Kentucky's offensive efficiency for the game was an impressive 1.025 ppp, about 0.1 ppp above its season average, and significantly above the 0.935 ppp I predicted. On defense, Kentucky was slightly weaker than predicted for the game, allowing Auburn 0.839 ppp, which is somewhat higher than the 0.808 ppp I predicted. 

Based on Season performance of both teams, as well as their schedule strength for this year, I predicted an 11point Kentucky Win, 76 - 65.

During the Auburn game, Kentucky had a total of 79 possessions, eleven of which resulted from offensive rebounds.  Kentucky's 11 second chance possessions produced 12 second chance points. Kentucky's offensive efficiency for second chance possessions was 1.091 ppp, significantly higher than Kentucky's first chance efficiency of 1.015 ppp.  Auburn stayed in the game on the strength of its offensive rebounding.  Auburn had a total of 87 possessions for the game, 21 of which were second chance possessions, producing 20 second chance points. State's second chance offensive efficiency was 0.952 ppp, which is significantly higher than their first chance efficiency of 0.803 ppp.

Kentucky travels to Tuscaloosa for a much awaited matchup with the top team in the SEC West, Alabama. 

Let's compare the teams as of February 23, 2005

                       UK            Alabama

Win-Loss Record         21 - 3          20 - 5
Offensive Efficiency    0.915           0.994    Points per Poss
Defensive Efficiency    0.761         0.846     ppp
Net Game Efficiency   0.154          0.148      ppp
RPI Ranking, 1/10/04   11               12
RPI SOS, 1/10/04       0.5529        0 .5570

Based on each team's early performance with an adjustment for strength of schedule, I would make the following prediction based on data available 2/20/05 at 11 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  71  Alabama 70
                 See details Below

    
    
Kentucky Alabama
Points
71
70
FGM
26
24
FGA
45.8%
57
53
44.9%
3PTM
7
7
3PTA
34.9%
19
20
35.3%
FTM
12
15
FTA
66.2%
18
20
72.9%
TO
6.71
12
16
5.05
REB
33
36
Possessions
78
79
PPP
0.910
0.879
    

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Copyright 2004 Richard Cheeks
All Rights Reserved