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Vanderbilt Gets First Ever Win Over Kentucky
At Rupp 57-52 In An Ugly Slugfest
By
TheProfessor

Kentucky returned to Lexington , tail tucked, from an embarrassing loss on Saturday to Kansas in Lawrence , Kansas before a national TV audience. Only the staunchest Tubby Smith supporter continues to offer explanations for the pitiful play from the entire wildcat team. Even many fans who had been pointing to tonight's game against Vanderbilt at the key moment of the 2005-06 season due to the return of Randolph Morris, now wonder whether even Morris' return can be sufficient help for this team.

Vanderbilt has never defeated a Kentucky in Rupp Arena, a span of over 30 years since Rupp arena opened. If Vanderbilt ever has a chance of ending that string of defeats in Rupp, tonight will be the night. Vanderbilt has started this season with a 10-2 record. Their losses have been at home to a very strong Cincinnati Bearcats team, 92-83, and on the road to Georgia Tech, 76-67. In addition, Vanderbilt is coming off a strong SEC opening game on Saturday beating Auburn 74-50 in Nashville .

This game will pit Vanderbilt's superior offense against UK 's superior defense. To win this game, UK must assert their defense, and slow down the Vanderbilt Commodore Juggernaut that is scoring at an efficiency of 0.940 points per possession. In comparison, UK 's offensive efficiency thus far is 0.847 points per possessions. Defensively, UK does have the edge, holding its opponents to 0.784 points per possession while Vanderbilt's opponents have scored at a pace of 0.842 ppp. When their respective schedule strengths [ UK 0.591; Vandy 0.540], Kentucky holds a slight edge for this matchup, UK 67, Vanderbilt 66.

Tubby Smith did not start Randolph Morris tonight, and Vandy raced out to an impressive 8 0 lead in the first two minutes. Kentucky made a mini-run, cutting the score to 10-9 at the 8 minute mark of the half. However, Vandy responded with 9 straight to extend their lead to 10, at 19-9. Then Tubby pulled Morris from the pine, but the next stoppage of play did not occur until the under 16 TV time out, with the score holding at 8 2. For the third game in a row, UK 's offense has an anemic start, and they start the game in the hole. The teams exchanged free throws for baskets down the stretch of the half and returned to their respective locker rooms with Vandy holding on to a 23-20 lead.

Each team won two of the 5 game segments of the first half. Vandy outscored UK by 5 and 3 in two of the segments, while UK outscored Vandy by 3 and 2 points in the two segments UK won. The fifth segment was a draw. UK scored its 20 points on only 32 possessions [0.625 ppp] and Vandy scoring its 23 points on only 30 possessions, 0.767 points per possession for the half.

Of UK's 32 first half possessions, 7 came by virtue of its offensive rebounding that produced 2 second chance points. Vandy earned 5 bonus possessions created by its offensive rebounding that produced 7 second chance points. UK had a low offensive efficiency of 0.720 ppp on its 25 first chance possessions and only 0.286 ppp for its 7 second chance possessions. Vandy had a 0.640 ppp on its 25 first chance possessions and 1.400 ppp on its 5 second chance possessions.

The free throw shooting in the first half was the difference in the game. Vandy made all 9 [100.0] of its attempts while UK converted only 1 of 4 [25.0%] attempts. Each team grabbed 16 rebounds in the half. The field goal shooting was also weak for Kentucky and Vandy tonight.j From inside the arc, 50.0% [8-16] for UK and only 4 15 [26.7%] for Vandy. Outside the arc, Kentucky only made one 3 pointer on nine attempts [11.1%] while Vandy was 2-5 [40.0%] from beyond the arc. The pace of this game was equivalent to about 60 to 65 possessions for the game.

MAGIC NUMBER Today: the first team to score its 45 th point will win this game. UK needs an astounding 25 more points in the second half to reach this level before Vandy can score a modest 22 points. Vandy scored its 45 th point of the game on a 3 pointer at the 4:30 mark, taking the lead to 46-42, and Vandy played out the 4 ½ minutes for a 57-52 win.

The second half started exactly the same way the first half was played, VANDY expanded its 3 first half lead to 9 by the first TV timeout, 32-23 holding UK to only 2 points for the third time in the first 6 game segments. Morris committed his third personal foul during this initial sequence of the second half, and Perry missed dead on shots within 5 feet of the basket. Vandy expanded their lead to 14 at 37-23, but UK fought back to take a brief 1 point lead at 42-41 with about 6 minutes to play. But Vanderbilt reestablished their lead on the next possession and outscored UK 16-10 down the stretch for the final 57-52 score.

Vanderbilt won the battle of the boards for the game, 36-33, and UK won the battle of the offensive boards, 12-11. Vandy grabbed nearly 34.4% of its misses as offensive rebounds while UK grabbed a low 32.4% of its misses. UK scored 52 points on its 67 possessions [0.776 ppp] while Vandy scored its 57 points using a total of 69 possessions [0.826 ppp]. Kentucky committed 7 turnovers to Vandy's 13 for the game.

One might argue that UK lost this game at the line and on second chance points. Kentucky had 55 first chance possessions in which they scored 47 points, 0.855 ppp while they scored 5 points on their 12 second chance possessions, a poor 0.417 ppp. Vandy had 58 first chance possessions on which they scored 43 points, 0.741 ppp while they scored 14 second chance points on their 11 second chance possessions, 1.273 ppp.

Tonight UK shot the ball poorly in every respect of the game. From the field, UK shot 41.9% [13-31] inside the arc, and a pitiful 5-20 from beyond the arc [25.0%] for a combined shooting percentage of 35.3%. The Free throw shooting was only 11-18 [61.1%]. Vandy also shot poorly from inside the arc, but Vandy's shooting from longe range and the free throw line was very strong. Vandy was only 9-32 [28.1%] inside the arc, and from long range, the Commodores hit 6-12 [50.5%] from beyond the arc. From the line; however, Vandy was 21-25 [84.0%]. Kentucky committed one turnover for every 9.6 possessions while forcing a turnover in every 5.3 possessions. Last year, in comparison, these turnover rates were 6.2 and 4.6 respectively for the season.

I predicted a Kentucky win over Vandy today, 67-66. The predicted v. actual offensive efficiencies were 0.858 and 0.776 ppp respectively, and the predicted v. actual defensive efficiencies were 0.851and 0.826 ppp respectively.

 

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Copyright 2005 Richard Cheeks
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