Kentucky Trails Ohio from Start To The Last Two Minutes
And Dodges Upset Bullet From Ohio

Many Kentucky fans discount the credibility of the Ohio University basketball team, and believe that UK will waltz through tonight's game and leave with a perfunctory, double digit victory. However, Ohio is the defending champions of the MAC, and this team has posted a 6-1 early season record against a representative schedule. Yes, it lost ugly to Cincinnati , but a lot of teams will lose ugly to Cincinnati this year. Despite that 30 point drubbing, Ohio has posted stronger early season offensive efficiency than UK . However, UK has performed more effectively at the defensive end.

On balance, UK has a slightly better team than Ohio and should leave the Cincinnati area with another victory tonight in the University of Kentucky 's 2500 th basketball game of all time. However, the victory will probably be single digits, and could extend to the last two minutes of play before the outcome before either team can seal the victory..

In the first two TV game segments, UK and Ohio exchange blows as both teams sprinted out at a very fast early pace, and extremely efficient offensive output at both ends of the floor. Except for a brief 1 point lead, Ohio lead the entire first half, which ended with a 40-37 UK deficit. The Ohio lead ranged from the 3 point halftime margin to a maximum of 9 points [33-24]. However, the Cats chopped away at that 9 point deficit over the last 6 minutes of the first half. While the 3 point halftime deficit is not exactly expected by many, it is consistent with the quality of the Ohio team and its coaching. Both teams were very efficient offensively, with UK scoring its 37 points on 39 possessions [0.949 ppp] and Ohio scoring its 40 points on only 35 possessions, an astounding 1.207 points per possession for the half.

I don't recall a team in recent years posting that level of offensive output against a UK defense.

UK scored its 37 points on 39 possessions for the entire half, including 7 by virtue of its offensive rebounding that produced 9 second chance points. Ohio scored its 40 points on a total of 35 possessions, including the 2 bonus possessions created by its offensive rebounding that produced 2 second chance points. UK had a good offensive efficiency of 0.875 ppp on its 32 first chance possessions and an outstanding 1.286 ppp for its 7 second chance possessions. Ohio had a 1.152 ppp on its 33 first chance possessions and 1.000 ppp on its 2 second chance possessions.

The free throw shooting in the first half was pitiful for UK and excellent for Ohio . UK missed all 4 attempts while Ohio made all 8 of their attempts. The halftime deficit is due to the disparity in free throw shooting, and the disparity in offensive rebounding kept UK in the game in the first half. The field goal shooting, was also weak for Kentucky tonight from inside the arc, 42.1% [8-19] than for Ohio , 7-11 [63.6%]. Outside the arc, Kentucky shot an outstanding 7-13 [53.9%] while Ohio was equally outstanding from beyond the arc, hitting 6-10 [60.0%]. The pace of this game was equivalent to about 70 to 80 possessions for the game.

MAGIC NUMBER Today: the first team to score its 79 th point will win this game. UK needs 42 more points in the second half to reach this level before Ohio can score 39 points. Neither team reached the Magic Number tonight. The scoring in the first half was marked by very high efficiencies that neither team could sustain for a full game.

Ohio rebuilt the 3 point halftime lead to 9 points in the first 8 minutes of the second half. At that point, Kentucky 's defense held Ohio scoreless for over 6 minutes, and UK used this Ohio scoring drought to cut that lead back to 3 points with about 4 minutes to play in the game. Down the stretch, UK controlled and won pulling away 71-63.

UK controlled and won the battle of the boards during the game, winning on total rebounds by 35-30. UK also won the battle of the offensive boards, 19-10. UK scored 71 points on its 83 possessions [0.855 ppp] while Ohio scored its 63 points using a total of 73 possessions [0.863 ppp]. Kentucky committed 13 turnovers to Ohio 's 19 for the game.

The second chance possessions were more productive for Kentucky tonight, which is contrary to recent trends but consistent with the usual circumstances. Kentucky had 64 first chance possessions in which they scored 49 points, 0.754 ppp while they scored 22 points on their 19 second chance possessions, 1.158 ppp. Ohio had 63 first chance possessions on which they scored 54 points, 0.844 ppp while they scored 9 second chance points on their 10 second chance possessions, 0.900 ppp.

Tonight UK shot the ball poorly from the field inside the arc, but three point shooting was strong, and free throw shooting was below the season average after missing their first 6 opportunities. However, down the stretch, UK hit 9 of 10 to seal the victory. From the field, UK shot 46.3% [19-41] inside the arc, but a respectable 8-22 from beyond the arc [36.4%] for a combined shooting percentage of 42.9%. The Free throw shooting was only 9-16 [56.3%]. Ohio shot better than most UK opponents, but very poorly down the stretch run of the last 12 minutes of the game. From the inside the arc, Ohio was 15-27 [55.6%] and from long range, Ohio was 7-19 [36.8%] for the game, but only 1-9 in the decisive second half. From the line; however, Ohio was 12-18 from the line [66.7%], but after hitting their first 8 in the first half, they only converted 4 of 10 in the second half. Kentucky committed one turnover for every 6.5 possessions while forcing a turnover in every 3.9 possessions. Last year, in comparison, these turnover rates were 6.2 and 4.6 respectively for the season.

I predicted a Kentucky win over Ohio tonight, 68-65. The predicted v. actual offensive efficiencies were 0.856 and 0.855 ppp respectively, and the predicted v. actual defensive efficiencies were 0.836 and 0.863 ppp respectively.

Kentucky will play the University of Central Florida on Tuesday, January 3, 2006 in Rupp Arena.    I predict a 5 point Kentucky victory, 68-63.  [See Projected Box Score Below].


NGE Method Prediction including SOS Factoring
Kentucky Central Florida


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Copyright 2005 Richard Cheeks
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