EXPLANATION OF DATA AND
Kentucky Struggles For First 30 Minutes Against Lipscomb Before Pulling Away Late to 18 Point Victory
UK basketball fans of all stripes have been a chattering over the last 24 hours in the aftermath of Kentucky’s lackluster performance in its opening game victory over S. Dakota State. The pro-Tubby and anti-Tubby sects both have their spins and points of view. However, it is clear that the offensive performance, from top to bottom was marked by poor shooting, poor free throw shooting, poor rebounding, too many turnovers, and average three point shooting. However, these statistical measures only tell part of the story. The coaching staff seemed uncertain about who would or should be starting, and how to manage substitution patterns to maximize team effectiveness.
Does this shabby start mean that the season is done, over, a foregone conclusion. Of course not, but the uninspiring play causes this fan more than a tad of concern for the future. Tonight’s game with Lipscomb provides another tune-up opportunity before playing legitimate top 25 competition that will be characterize the upcoming schedule. As poorly as the Cats played on Sunday, they reversed that tonight for an impressive victory of an outmanned Lipscomb team.
Tubby started Obzut over Sims and or Alleyne for the second straight game, but Tubby did not engage in the 5 for 5 substitution pattern. The offense was more efficient than last night, but the pace of the game is snail-like, and the rebounding continues to provide the opponent with bonus possessions. In first half, UK had 31 possessions while Lipscomb had 37 possessions on the strength of its 9-2 Offensive Rebounding Margin. UK’s offensive rebounding deficit, 2 - 9 produced only 2 second chance points for Kentucky while Lipscomb capitalized on its 9 second chance opportunities with 9 second chance points .
Lipscomb had an offensive efficiency of 0.464 ppp on its 28 first chance possessions and 1.00 for its 9 second chance possessions. UK had 0.968 ppp on its 29 first chance possessions and 1.00 ppp on its 2 second chance possessions. Lipscomb holds a slim edge in total rebounds, but the -7 offensive rebounding differential reduced the impact of a strong defensive effort by reducing what could/should have been a 15 first half lead to a 8 point first half lead.
The free throw shooting in the first half was a respectable 71% [5 – 7], and the field goal shooting, inside the line, was good, 57% [8-14] inside the arc and 43% outside the arc [3-7]. The pace of this game was grindingly slow, with only 31 scoring opportunities for Kentucky.
MAGIC NUMBER Tonight: First team to score its 57th point will win tonight. To reach that score, Ky needs 27 points, while Lipscomb needs a whopping 35 points. Kentucky scored its 57th point first with 3:22 remaining when Moss hit a 3, making the score 59-45, effectively sealing a hard fought victory. Lipscomb called time out on the ensuing trip down the court. The predicted score was 80 – 63, and the current pace is 60-44.
In the second half, Lipscomb came out of the blocks as if they meant business, outscoring Kentucky 10-6, and cutting Kentucky’s half time lead from 8 to 4 points by the first TV time out. During that segment, Lipscomb continued to control the boards, grabbing 3 additional offensive rebounds to Kentucky’s 2, producing 2 second chance points for each team.
However, the remaining 16 minutes of the game, Kentucky withstood this charge, and pulled away over the last 16 minutes outscoring Lipscomb 31-15 for the final 18 point margin.
The defense was acceptable, holding LIPSCOMB to 0.671 ppp for the game. Unlike last night, the offensive efficiency was good for the Cats, at 1.015 ppp for the game. The Cats were out rebounded tonight, 30 – 34, and a -6 Offensive Rebounding Margin [8 – 14]. The second chance possessions were more productive for both teams tonight. Kentucky had 58 first chance possessions in which they scored 57 points, 0.983 ppp while they scored 10 points on their 8 second chance possessions, 1.25 ppp. LIPSCOMB had 59 first chance possessions on which they scored only 38 points, 0.644 ppp while they scored 11 second chance points on their 14 second chance possessions, 0.820 ppp.
The Cats’ improved offensive performance tonight was marked by a significant reduction in the number of turnover, and 50% field goal shooting. As we have discussed at great length, recent UK teams have not shot free throws with a high percentage, and tonight's second game of the 2005-06 team did nothing to alleviate that concern. Kentucky committed one turnover for every 7.33 possessions while forcing a turnover in every 4.56 possessions. Last year, in comparison, these turnover rates were 6.2 and 4.6 respectively for the season.
The concerns remain free throw shooting, and rebounding, and while tonight’s field goal percentages were good, a lingering concern about shooting remains in this fan’s mind. Nonetheless, tonight’s game was a distinct improvement in the efficiency of the offense and the effectiveness of the defense.
I predicted a Kentucky victory over LIPSCOMB by 80-63, and the final score was 67 - 49. The predicted v. actual offensive efficiencies were 0.933 and 1.015 ppp respectively, and the predicted v. actual defensive efficiencies were 0.697 and 0.671 ppp respectively. The major difference between my prediction and the outcome tonight was the pace of the game. Last night, Kentucky had 93 possession, including 75 first chance possessions. Tonight, with only 66 total possessions and 58 first chance possessions, gave substance to Tubby’s remark following last night’s game that the fast pace would not be allowed in the future.
Next Monday night, the Cats will probably take on Iowa in Kansas City. Iowa will be Kentucky’s first legitimate opponent of the season. Based-on Iowa's 2004-05 performance and SOS, I predict a hard fought Kentucky victory, 70 - 66. However, this prediction is based upon UK's performance this early season, and Iowa's performance last season because at the time of this writing, Iowa data for their first two games was not yet available [See Below].
Iowa has completed both of its first two games, at home with victories to advance to the Gaurdian Classic Final Four Next Monday wherte they will play UK. Iowa defeated Maryland Eastern Shore 86 - 41 and Colgate 73 - 51 to advance while Kentucky defeated South Dakota State and Lipscomb 67 - 49.
Ken Pomeroy's early season ratings provide the only basis for comparing the relative strengths of the Kentucky and Iowa opponents. Maryland Eastern Shore and South Dakota State have Pomeroy ratings of 35.48 and 36.03 respectively. This suggests that these two teams have similar power and strength. Colgate and Lipscomb have Pomeroy ratings of 45.05 and 45.84 respectively. Based on the similarities of these opponents, it appears that the early season cummulative statistics can be compared directly, without any adjustment for Strength of Schedule.
Based on these early season performances by both of these teams, it appears that Iowa has display more power and productivity than Kentucky. Based on this data, I predict an Iowa victory over Kentucky, 69 - 60.
Copyright 2005 Richard Cheeks