UK Takes Its Show On The Road  For First Time and Brings Home 27 Point Win

Following last Saturday's loss to a freshman dominated UNC at Rupp Arena, Rondo developed strep throat and can't play tonight. However, the biggest loss since Saturday has been the gloss and shine on our newest model of our team. UNC exposed all of the Kentucky weaknesses with precision and effectiveness. Now the whole basketball world knows that this UK team does not have the heart to fight for rebounds or the focus to shoot free throws for a high percentage with the stakes are high. Tubby said as much on the pre-game radio interviews before tonight's game against Georgia State in the Phillips Center in Atllanta , Georgia .

Tonight's game is a rematch of last year's meeting of these teams which saw Kentucky struggle for awhile while defeating Georgia State 77-59. Tonight's game in Atlanta proves to provide a greater struggle for the cats. Or, will the cats respond to the UNC loss tonight and spank the Georgia hosts?

Georgia State broke out to an 11-0 lead by the first TV time out.. In response, Tubby swapped 4 players, and UK pulled to within 14-11 by the second TV time out. By the end of the third TV game segment, UK has established its superiority and stretched the lead to 20-14. The players who entered the game at the first break and immediately contributed tonight are Alleyne, Bradley, Sims, and Crawford. They joined Moss to former the most dynamic combination I have witnessed this young season, aggressively fighting for rebounds, getting the outlet pass, and creating points in the middle.

Following the third TV time out, Tubby Smith returned Sparks , and Carter to the game, but Carter picked up a quick offensive foul, and gave way to Obrzut's return. In the segment, Georgia State responded to Kentucky 's surge, and the teams battled on nearly even ground for the remainder of the first half, ending with UK holding a 30-24 lead.

Kentucky team is still searching for its identity, indeed its soul. For all the soul searching that has occupied the Kentucky camp, coaches, players and fans, since Saturday, there was either no doubt that someone would find that missing soul, or surely this team has never owned one. The first half performance against Georgia State does not reveal that the missing soul has been located.

Neither team was highly efficient, with UK scoring its 30 points on a very slow paced 30 possessions for the entire half, including 8 by virtue of its offensive rebounding that produced only 5 second chance points. Georgia State score its 24 points on a total of 31 possessions, including the 4 bonus possessions created by its offensive rebounding that produced 4 second chance points. Georgia State had an offensive efficiency of 0.714 ppp on its 27 first chance possessions and 1.000 ppp for its 4 second chance possessions. UK had a reasonable 0.968 ppp on its 26 first chance possessions and 0.625 ppp on its 8 second chance possessions.

The free throw shooting in the first half was a poor 1 for 2 [50.0%] for Kentucky and 4-7 [57.1%] for Georgia State . The field goal shooting, was better tonight for Kentucky from inside the arc, 65.0% [13-20] for Kentucky and for Georgia State , l1-17 [41.2%]. Outside the arc, Kentucky shot a pitiful 1-8 [12.5%] while Georgia State was a chilly 2-10 [20.0%]. The pace of this game was equivalent to about 65-70 possessions for the game.

MAGIC NUMBER Tonight: the first team to score its 58 th point will win this game. UK needs 28 more points in the second half to reach this level before Georgia State cam score 34 points. UK scored its 58 h point first with 7:40 to play, on a Sparks pull up jump shot from about 17 feet, taking the lead to 59-32.

UK used its six possessions of the first TV game segment after the half to outscore Georgia State 7-4 to increase its lead to 37-28. While the pace is much slower than anticipated for this game, the offensive and defensive efficiencies have nearly stabilized in this game at about the projected levels. UK controlled the game and finished with a 27 point win, 73-46.

UK controlled the boards during the entire game, winning on total rebounds by 41-20, and on offensive rebounds, UK won again, 13-9, UK scored 73 points on its 74 possessions [0.986 ppp] while Georgia State scored its 46 points using a total of 70 possessions [0.657]. For the game, UK committed 16 turnovers, about equal to their season average, while Georgia State protected its possessions better only committing 11 turnovers.

The second chance possessions were more productive for Kentucky tonight as is usually the case., but Georgia State's second chance possessions were less productive than UK but still more productive than their first chance possessions. Kentucky had 61 first chance possessions in which they scored 59 points, 0.967 ppp while they scored 14 points on their 13 second chance possessions, 1.077 ppp. Georgia State had 61first chance possessions on which they scored only 39 points, 0.639 ppp while they scored 7 second chance points on their 9 second chance possessions, 0.778 ppp.

Tonight UK shot the ball better than they have thus far this season, 52.9% field goal shooting [27-51], and an unusually focused 85.7;% free throw shooting [12-14]. Kentucky committed one turnover for every 4.6 possessions while forcing a turnover in every 6.4 possessions. Last year, in comparison, these turnover rates were 6.2 and 4.6 respectively for the season.

I predicted a Kentucky victory over Georgia State by 76-64 and the final score was 73-46. The predicted v. actual offensive efficiencies were 0.927and 0.976 ppp respectively, and the predicted v. actual defensive efficiencies were 0.771and 0.657 ppp respectively.

ext Saturday, the Cats will take on a very strong Indiana Hoosier team that lost this evening to Indiana State .  Each team enters this long-standing grudge match with two early season losses, and IU is coming to the game off a loss to Indiana State.  On Saturday, I predict an Indiana victory, 73-72 [See Details of Prediction Below].





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