EXPLANATION OF DATA AND
Kentucky Spanks Little Brother
Prior to today, Louisville and Kentucky have played 36 games on the hardwood. Kentucky holds a 24-12 advantage in all games and a 15-9 advantage since the inception of their annual alternating home court games. Four of these games have occurred in the NCAA Tournament, with each team winning twice. Tubby Smith is 4-4 against Louisville in his eight seasons at the Kentucky helm, and 2-2 since former UK coach, Rick Pitino took over the reins at Louisville . Pitino held a 6-2 edge against Louisville while he coached at Kentucky .
This rivalry is rich in its tradition, and its history is steeped with the folk lore about heroes. Fans on both sides can recite their favorite games, and the achievements of their favorite players. Both teams have been ranked in ten of these last 24 meetings with UK holding an 8-2 record. At least one team has been ranked at the time of the game for 12 of the remaining 14 games. Kentucky was ranked 9 times while UL was unranked, and in those games, UL holds a slight 5-4 advantage. UL was ranked 3 times while UK was unranked with UL holding a 2-1 advantage.. Neither team was ranked only twice, 1999-2000 and 2000-01 with Kentucky winning both times.
Last season, for example, Kentucky 's Patrick Sparks became the most recent player to leave his mark on this series. His cunning and basketball savvy enabled him to draw a three shot foul when Kentucky needed three points to win, with time running out. Not only did he get the Louisville defender in the air, he drew the foul, and sank all three free throws.
Both teams are keenly aware of this game each year, and pre-season, and early season preparations are geared to prepare for this event. Players and fans have discussed this game for the entire year until a rematch can occur. This year's installment of this great college basketball rivalry did not disappoint.
Precedent to this game, Kentucky had been struggling to find a floor leader and define its character, struggling to an early season 6-3 record with losses to Iowa , North Carolina and Indiana . Louisville chose to play a relatively easy home only schedule prior to this game, and the Cardinals marched through their six preliminary games without a blemish. Despite the gloom and doom surrounding the UK program following successive Saturday losses on national TV to UNC and IU, the Kentucky team rose to the challenge today against #4 ranked Louisville .
In a complete reversal of last weeks performance, Kentucky today became the aggressor for the first time this season, jumping all over Louisville on defense and shooting very well in the early going to build a 10-3 lead by the first TV break. In the first half of today's UK-UL classic at Rupp Arena , Kentucky owned both ends of the floor, as they jolted Louisville to a 39-24 halftime lead. UK dominated UL in every single game segment of the half, outscoring them segment for segment by 6, 4, 2, 2, and 1 points. That is nearly complete domination, with the only statistical blemish being UL's control of the offensive boards, with an eleven (11) to five (5) advantage that produced 6 and 2 second chance points respectively. .
Many Wildcats fans have wondered aloud about where the soul of this Kentucky basketball team has been vacationing, and today, in the first half of this huge in-state rivalry, UK showed its soul, and its reportedly dead heart.
UK scored its 39 points on 39 possessions for the entire half, including 5 by virtue of its offensive rebounding that produced 2 second chance points. UL scored its 24 points on a total of 44 possessions, including the 11 bonus possessions created by its offensive rebounding that produced 6 second chance points. UK had an offensive efficiency of 1.099 ppp on its 34 first chance possessions and only 0.400 ppp for its 5 second chance possessions. UL had a .5455 ppp on its 33 first chance possessions and 0.5455 ppp on its 11 second chance possessions.
The free throw shooting in the first half was a fair 12 for 16 [75.0%] for Kentucky and 2-5 [40.0%] for UL. The field goal shooting, was better tonight for Kentucky from inside the arc, 52.9% [9-17] than for UL, 5-20 [25.0%]. Outside the arc, Kentucky shot a good 3-7 [42.9%] while UL was a lower than average 4-14 [28.6%]. The pace of this game was equivalent to about 80-85 possessions for the game.
MAGIC NUMBER Today: the first team to score its 71 st point will win this game. UK needs 32 more points in the second half to reach this level before UL can score 47 points. UK scored its 71 st point first with 1:06 to play on a Ronda free throw, taking the lead to 72-59.
In the first segment of the second half, Kentucky continued its dominance and extended the lead to 22 points, 49-27. At that point, Louisville made a run at the Cats, cutting the lead to 13 points at 64-51 at the 4:30 minute mark. .However, Kentucky responded to the call, and held on for a 12 point margin, 73-61.
UK controlled won the battle of the boards during the game, winning on total rebounds by 36-35, but UL soundly won the battle of the offensive rebounds, 16-11. UK scored 73 points on its 76 possessions [0.961 ppp] while UL scored its 61 points using a total of 81 possessions [0.753 ppp]. Each team committed 13 turnovers, below their season averages.
The second chance possessions were more productive for UL tonight, which is contrary to recent trends. Kentucky had 65 first chance possessions in which they scored 69 points, 1.061 ppp while they scored 4 points on their 11 second chance possessions, 0.364 ppp. UL had 65 first chance possessions on which they scored only 47 points, 0.723 ppp while they scored 14 second chance points on their 16 second chance possessions, 0.875 ppp.
Tonight UK shot the ball well from the field, inside the arc, but three point shooting was off again, and free throw shooting was about at the season average From the field, 54.3% [19-35] inside the arc, but a miserable 4-13 from beyond the arc [30.8%] for a combined shooting percentage of 47.9%. The Free throw shooting was 23-34 [67.6%], and possibly. Louisville shot poorly from the field and the line. Inside the arc, UL was 14-35 [40.0%] and outside the arc 7-25 [28.0%]. From the line, UL was 12-18 [66.7%]. Kentucky committed one turnover for every 6.0 possessions while forcing a turnover in every 6.3 possessions. Last year, in comparison, these turnover rates were 6.2 and 4.6 respectively for the season.
I predicted a Kentucky loss at the hand of UL today, 67-70. The predicted v. actual offensive efficiencies were 0.851 and 0.961 ppp respectively, and the predicted v. actual defensive efficiencies were 0.863 and 0.753 ppp respectively.
Kentucky's next game will be on Friday, December 23, 2005 against Iona, on Louisville's home court at Freedom Hall. I predict a Kentucky victory, 73-66.
Copyright 2005 Richard Cheeks