Alabama Leaves Rupp With Win;
Kentucky 's Woes Continue


Just like the Vanderbilt game on Tuesday night, this game will pit Alabama's superior offense against UK's superior defense. Unlike Tuesday night, UK 's offense made a legitimate appearance in today's first half and UK 's defense was effective.

Tubby Smith started Randolph Morris today, and he wasted little time in making his presence felt and known on both ends of the floor

For the first time in recent memory, UK did not start this game by allowing their opponent to place them, or more accurately, UK did not place themselves, into a deep hole in the first one or two game segments. Today, at the second TV timeout, UK trailed, but only by 1 point, 11-10. Alabama did lead for a significant number of minutes in the first half, building its maximum lead at 4 points, 14-10. However, Alabama got into some first half foul trouble, two players with 3 each, and UK surged to the lead in the last 10 minutes, building a maximum lead of 9 points, 32-23. However, Alabama closed the gap to only 3 points before the buzzer, 32-29.

In the first half today, UK won three of the 5 game segments with one segment being a draw. UK outscored Alabama by 2 points in one segment, and one point in the other two, while Alabama outscored UK by 1 point in one game segment. The fifth segment was a draw. UK scored its 32 points on only 36 possessions [0.889 ppp] and Alabama scored its 29 points on only 34 possessions, 0.853 points per possession for the half.

Of UK's 36 first half possessions, 9 came by virtue of its offensive rebounding that produced 6 second chance points. Alabama earned 5 bonus possessions created by its offensive rebounding that produced 6 second chance points. UK had a high offensive efficiency of 0.963 ppp on its 27 first chance possessions and only 0.667 ppp for its 9 second chance possessions. Alabama had a 0.793 ppp on its 29 first chance possessions and 1.200 ppp on its 5 second chance possessions.

The free throw shooting in the first half was the difference in the game. Alabama made 5 of its 6 attempts [83.3%] while UK converted an uncharacterist 9 for 9 [100.0%] attempts. Kentucky out rebounded Alabama in the first half, 19-11, and UK won the battle of the offensive boards, 9-5. The field goal shooting was still weak, but not anemic for Kentucky and Alabama today. From inside the arc, 52.6% [10-19] for UK and only 6-16 [37.5%] for Vandy. Outside the arc, Kentucky only made one 3 pointer on seven attempts [14.3%] while Vandy was 4-9 [44.4%] from beyond the arc. The pace of this game was equivalent to about 75-80 possessions for the game.

MAGIC NUMBER Today: the first team to score its 63rd point will win this game. UK needs an astounding 31 more points in the second half to reach this level before Alabama can score a modest 34 points. Alabama scored its 63rd point of the game on a 3 pointer at the 3:48 mark, taking the lead to 63-56, and Alabama played out the 3 ½ minutes for a 68-64 win.

The second half started win a mini-run by Alabama transforming their 3 point halftime deficit to a brief 1 point lead. When play stopped for the under 16 TV timeout, UK was holding onto a slim 1 ponit lead, 39-38. Kentucky reasserted itself after the time out, out scoring Alabama 5 2 over the never 3 minutes, culminating in an Alabama shooting foul as the teams returned to their benches for the under 12 TV Time out. With about 12 minutes to play, UK is on track for the Magic Number while Alabama 's current pace lags their required pace by about 3 points. After a Moss three pointers at the 8:58 mark, moving the UK lead back to 5 points, 53-48, Alabama called for a time out. Out of the timeout, Alabama cut the 5 point lead to 3 points, with a free throw to come after the under 8 TV Time out with 7:41 to play. At this juncture, UK is two points ahead of the Magic Number pace, and Alabama is one point ahead of the Magic Number pace. This game continues to flow at the 75-80 possession pace. Alabama eases out to a one point lead, 54-53 on an old fashioned 3 point play, followed by a UK turnover, misses, and another turnover, and Alabama surges to their game high 5 point lead, 58-53 with 6 minutes to play. Tubby Smith calls a timeout after the second straight defensive breakdown on the post by Morris for easy baskets.

The race to 63 has taken a definitive swing in Alabama's favor over the last 3 minutes, and when Alabama made a 3 pointer to take a 63-56 lead, Tubby Smith called timeout with 3 ½ to play. Out of the time out, Moss hit back to back 3 pointers with an Alabama turnover sandwiched in between, drawing to within 1 point, and Alabama took a time out. With 2 to play. Alabama committed an offensive foul turnover out of the timeout, giving UK a chance to regain the lead. Moss missed another 3 attempt, but Rondo took it to the hoop following the offensive rebound, but missed a free throw to move out to a two point lead following the basket. Alabama responded with a similar inside basket and foul on the shot, to move back into the lead by 2 points with 1 minute to play. Kentucky could not catch up, and suffered their third consecutive loss, their second straight loss at Rupp Arena, and the first time since 1989 that UK has opened SEC play 0-2.

Kentucky won the battle of the boards for the game, 32-22, and UK won the battle of the offensive boards, 17-8. . Alabama grabbed nearly 34.8% of its misses as offensive rebounds while UK grabbed a very high 54.8% of its misses. UK scored 64 points on its 75 possessions [0.853 ppp] while Alabama scored its 68 points using a total of 66 possessions [1.030 ppp]. Kentucky committed 15 turnovers to Alabama 's 12 for the game.

Kentucky had 58 first chance possessions in which they scored 50 points, 0.862 ppp while they scored 14 points on their 17 second chance possessions, 0.824 ppp. Alabama had 58 first chance possessions on which they scored 58 points, 1.000 ppp while they scored 10 second chance points on their 8 second chance possessions, 1.250 ppp.

Tonight UK shot the ball poorly again for the game. From the field, UK shot 50.0% [16-32] inside the arc, and a weak 7-22 from beyond the arc [31.8%] for a combined shooting percentage of 42.6%. The Free throw shooting was very good, 11-12 [91.7%]. Alabama shot very well from inside the arc, and from long range. Alabama 's free throw line was good. Alabama was 17-31 [54.8%] inside the arc, and from long range, the Crimson Tide hit 6-12 [50.0%] from beyond the arc. From the line; however, Alabama was 16-23 [69.6%]. Kentucky committed one turnover for every 5.0 possessions while forcing a turnover in every 5.5 possessions. Last year, in comparison, these turnover rates were 6.2 and 4.6 respectively for the season.

I predicted a Kentucky win over Alabama today, 69-65. The predicted v. actual offensive efficiencies were 0.864 and 0.865 ppp respectively, and the predicted v. actual defensive efficiencies were 0.840 and 1.030 ppp respectively.

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Copyright 2005 Richard Cheeks
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