EXPLANATION OF DATA AND
Kentucky Continues Its Winning Tradition
How does any Kentucky team top the complete whipping it delivered last Saturday to Little Brother Louisville. Kentucky controlled the game from the opening tip, and Louisville never really challenged the Cats all afternoon. Kentucky 's performance caused visions to SEC Trophies and deep NCAA runs dance in the heads of Wildcat fans everywhere. The victory replaced the doom and gloom that dominated the week prior to the annual grudge match with Louisville with a guarded optimism in the week since.
Tonight, the University of Kentucky appears for its annual Louisville “home game” at Freedom Hall. For at least one evening each year, Freedom Hall, the usual home of the despised Louisville Cardinals becomes a home away from home for the Wildcats. Tonight's opponent is almost an afterthought. Iona ? Who is Iona ? The Cats will surely waltz their way to another routine victory in this game intended to entertain the Louisville contingent of fans.
Not so fast. Iona comes into this game undefeated. They have an experience squad, and have won on the road, including an impressive victory over Iowa State . Lest we forget, Iowa defeated UK earlier this year, and Iowa State defeated Iowa .
TheProfessor is not taken in by the opponent's lack of pedigree in the world of big-time college basketball, and predicts a difficult, hard fought game. While I believe UK should win this game by less than 10 points, the margin of victory may be late coming to fruition.
In the first two TV game segments, UK sprints to a 16-11 lead, which the Cats expanded to 22-14 at the end of the third segment, when play stopped due to a Technical Foul on Iona 's bench. Iona never has led, and the Kentucky lead has vacillated between 4 and 10 points after the early moments of the game. The halftime score was UK 34-26, and 8 point lead. While the 8 point halftime lead is greater than anticipated, the offensive efficiency during the first half was anemic, at only 0.739 points per possession, while UK 's defense kept Jeff Ruland's Iona team off balance most of the half, only allowing 0.619 points per possession. UK controlled the boards, and earned a +2 offensive rebounding margin for the first half of play.
UK scored its 34 points on 45 possessions for the entire half, including 7 by virtue of its offensive rebounding that produced 6 second chance points. Iona scored its 26 points on a total of 41possessions, including the 4 bonus possessions created by its offensive rebounding that produced 2 second chance points. UK had a poor offensive efficiency of 0.718 ppp on its 37 first chance possessions and a little better 0.857 ppp for its 7 second chance possessions. Iona had a 0.619 ppp on its 37 first chance possessions and but only 0.500 ppp on its 4 second chance possessions.
The free throw shooting in the first half was good 6 for 8 [75.0%] for Kentucky and a weak 6-10 [60.0%] for Iona . The field goal shooting, was also weak for Kentucky tonight from inside the arc, 50.0% [11-22] than for Iona , 7-23 [30.4%]. Outside the arc, Kentucky shot a poor 2-10 [20%] while Iona was slightly lower than average 2-6 [33.3%]. The pace of this game was equivalent to about 85 to 90 possessions for the game.
MAGIC NUMBER Today: the first team to score its 65 th point will win this game. UK needs 31 more points in the second half to reach this level before Iona can score 39 points. UK scored its 65 th point first with 2:07 to play on an Obrzut basket, taking the lead to 66-59
Kentucky expanded their first half lead to 13 points twice during the second half, but the pesky Iona team would not quit, and closed the gap to only 3 points, 66-63 inside the final 2 minutes of the game. However, the Cats held on for the final 6 point victory, 73-67.
UK controlled won the battle of the boards during the game, winning on total rebounds by 42-32. UK also won the battle of the offensive boards, 14-11. UK scored 73 points on its 85 possessions [0.859 ppp] while Iona scored its 67 points using a total of 81 possessions [0.827 ppp]. Kentucky committed 18 turnovers to Iona 's 12 for the game.
The second chance possessions were more productive for Iona tonight, which is contrary to recent trends. Kentucky had 71 first chance possessions in which they scored 65 points, 0.903 ppp while they scored 8 points on their 14 second chance possessions, 0.571 ppp. Iona had 70 first chance possessions on which they scored only 59 points, 0.831 ppp while they scored 8 second chance points on their 11 second chance possessions, 0.727 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 slightly higher than the season average From the field, 57.1% [24-42] inside the arc, but a miserable 6-21 from beyond the arc [28,6%] for a combined shooting percentage of 47.9%. The Free throw shooting was only 7-10 [70.0%]. Iona shot better than most UK opponents, but still poorly nonetheless from the inside the arc and the line; however, Iona was very effective from long range. Inside the arc, Iona was 19-48 [39.6%] and outside the arc 7-15 [46.7%]. From the line, Iona was 8-15 [53.3%]. Kentucky committed one turnover for every 4.8 possessions while forcing a turnover in every 6.8 possessions. Last year, in comparison, these turnover rates were 6.2 and 4.6 respectively for the season.
I predicted a Kentucky win over Iona tonight, 73-66. The predicted v. actual offensive efficiencies were 0.859 and 0.917 ppp respectively, and the predicted v. actual defensive efficiencies were 0.827 and 0.794 ppp respectively.
Kentucky's next game will be on Friday, December 30, 2005 against Ohio University in Cincinnati. I predict a narrow Kentucky victory, 67-65.
Copyright 2005 Richard Cheeks