Wildcats Find Winning Ways
In Athens , Georgia 69-55

Not often has UK started an SEC season with 2 losses. When both of those losses occurred on UK 's home turf, the return frequency becomes even larger. However, the 2006 SEC season has begun in exactly that way for this version of Kentucky Wildcats. Tonight, they continue their quest for their first SEC victory of the year in Athens , Georgia against a surprisingly good Georgia Bulldog basketball team. The Pros in Vegas say UK will return to Lexington winless in three SEC starts, which is quite unprecedented.

Georgia enters tonight's game with an 11-5 overall record, 1-2 in the SEC with one home loss to Florida by 18 and a road win over USC on Saturday by 3 in overtime. Georgia 's most impressive wins thus far this season were over RPI 51 Clemson by 3 and RPI 53 Western Kentucky by 4 on the road. Tonight, Georgia entertains RPI 52 Kentucky. Georgia 's losses have come to #20 Old Dominion by 9, #8 Florida , #12 Tennessee , #42 Nevada , and an inexplicable #158 Oregon State .

Georgia plays a faster style than UK has played this season [86 possessions to 80 possessions]. For the third SEC match up in a row, Georgia has a stronger offense and Kentucky has a stronger defense. In the last two match up bearing that same relationship, UK 's defense lost to the opponents' offense. If Kentucky is too stop this 3 game losing streak tonight, UK must show up and play on both ends of the court. On offense, UK must score at least 0.85 points per possession and UK 's defense must hold the Bulldog offense to under 0.83 points per possession.

Kentucky trailed Georgia for most of the first half, falling behind by 10 points 18-8. However, unlike other recent games, UK responded with 10 straight to tie the score at 18, and UK took its first lead of the game, briefly, 21-20. In the last segment of the first half, UK moved from 1 down to up 3 at the half, 35-32.

In the first half today, UK won three of the 5 game segments with one segment being a draw. UK outscored Georgia by 3 points in one segment, and one point in the other two, while Georgia outscored UK by 2 points in one game segment. The fifth segment was a draw. UK scored its 35 points on only 40 possessions [0.875 ppp] and Georgia scored its 32 points on only 38 possessions, 0.842 points per possession for the half.

Of UK's 40 first half possessions, 11 came by virtue of its offensive rebounding that produced 11 second chance points. Georgia earned 7 bonus possessions created by its offensive rebounding that produced 0 second chance points. UK had below average offensive efficiency of 0.774 ppp on its 29 first chance possessions and only 1.000 ppp for its 11 second chance possessions. Georgia had a 1.032 ppp on its 31 first chance possessions and 0.000 ppp on its 7 second chance possessions.

Georgia made 4 of its 6 attempts [66.7%] while UK converted only 6 for 12 [50.0%] attempts. Kentucky out rebounded Alabama in the first half, 22-14, and UK won the battle of the offensive boards, 11-7. The field goal shooting was better for UK tonight, but Georgia shot the ball poorly inside the arc but very well from long range. From inside the arc, 52.6% [10-19] for UK and only 5-13 [38.5%] for Georgia . Outside the arc, Kentucky made three on seven attempts [42.9%] while Georgia was 6-15 [40.0%] 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 69 th point will win this game. UK needs to score 34 more points in the second half to reach this level before Georgia can score 37 points in this race to 69 points. Kentucky scored its 69 th point of the game on a a Morris dunk with 1:24 to play. Kentucky played out the 1 ½ minutes for a 69-55 win.

The second half started win a mini-run by Georgia, allowing them to briefly regain a 1 point lead, but that lead was short lived, and UK reasserted itself quickly and never relinquished the lead for the remainder of the game. When play stopped for the under 16 TV timeout, UK was holding onto a 4-point lead, 42-38. Kentucky built the lead to 15, and won by 14, 69-55 for their first SEC victory of the year

Kentucky won the battle of the boards for the game, 41-23, and UK won the battle of the offensive boards, 14-10. . Georgia grabbed nearly 32.3% of its misses as offensive rebounds while UK grabbed a very high 51.9% of its misses. UK scored 69 points on its 75 possessions [0.920 ppp] while Georgia scored its 55 points using a total of 68 possessions [0.809 ppp]. Kentucky committed 18 turnovers to Georgia 's 8 for the game.

Kentucky had 61 first chance possessions in which they scored 58 points, 0.951 ppp while they scored 11 points on their 14 second chance possessions, 0.786 ppp. Georgia had 58 first chance possessions on which they scored 50 points, 0.862 ppp while they scored 5 second chance points on their 10 second chance possessions, 0.500 ppp.

Tonight UK shot the ball very well for a change for the game. From the field, UK shot 69.7% [23-33] inside the arc, and a weak 5-17 from beyond the arc [29.4%] for a combined shooting percentage of 56.0%. The Free throw shooting was poor, 8-14 [57.1%]. Georgia shot poorly from inside the arc, and from long range. Georgia 's free throw line was good. Georgia was 12-29 [41.4%] inside the arc, and from long range, the Bulldogs hit 7-24 [29.2%] from beyond the arc. From the line; however, Georgia was 10-14 [71.4%]. Kentucky committed one turnover for every 4.2 possessions while forcing a turnover in every 8.5 possessions. Last year, in comparison, these turnover rates were 6.2 and 4.6 respectively for the season.

I predicted a Kentucky win over Georgia today, 70-67. The predicted v. actual offensive efficiencies were 0.844 and 0.945 ppp respectively, and the predicted v. actual defensive efficiencies were 0.832 and 0.821 ppp respectively.


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Copyright 2006 Richard Cheeks
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