Florida Control Both Ends of the Floor and
Cruises to Victory of UK 95-80

Game Preview:

Kentucky started the SEC season with a shocking 0-2 start. This was doubly troubling for UK and its fans because it is very rare for UK to lose the first two games in the SEC season, but these losses occurred on the Revered Rupp Arena floor. UK responded to that weak start by running off five straight SEC victories to stand at 15-6 overall and 5-2 in the SEC going into tonight's marquee match up at highly ranked Florida, 19-2 and also 5-2 in the SEC.

Florida 's two conference losses were also consecutive losses, but unlike UK , Florida 's losses occurred on the road, at South Carolina and at Tennessee . Both teams lurk 1 game out of the lead in the SEC East, with Tennessee holding the top spot with a 6-1 conference record. Therefore, the winner will maintain pace with Tennessee , who entertains Mississippi today and is a heavy favorite to move to 7-1 at the mid-point of the 2006 SEC season.

Tonight's match up provides an interesting contrast of pace, scoring, and efficiency. UK has averaged 79 possessions per game, which places them ranked at 281st of the 334 D1 teams. UK holds its opponents to only 77 possessions per game due to a +2 average offensive rebounding margin per game. Florida averages 81 possessions per game this season, which ranks 89th. However, Florida enjoys a +3 average offensive rebounding margin per game over its opponents. These teams should play tonight's game in the upper 70s to lower 80s pace.

UK 's average offensive efficiency is equal to Florida 's worst effort of this season, and UK 's best offensive effort is barely above Florida 's average. Florida has posted a very impressive average efficiency of 1.011 points per possession while Kentucky 's offensive efficiency stands at about 0.876 ppp. UK has exceeded Florida 's average only 5 times this season, 1.013 [UNC], 1.015 [Lipscomb], 1.096 [ West Virginia ], 1.111 [ South Carolina ], and 1.068 [ Mississippi State ]. In contrast, Florida failed to post an offensive efficiency as low as UK 's average offensive efficiency only once, against Auburn [0.873 ppp].

Defensively, Florida has posted a very impressive average efficiency of 0.766 ppp while UK 's current average defensive efficiency is only 0.821 ppp. UK has held opponents to efficiency below Florida 's average on six occasions: S. Dakota St [0.6136], Lipscomb [0.6712], Liberty [0.6296], High Point [0.6250], Georgia State [0.6571], and Louisville [0.7531]. In contrast, Florida has allowed its opponents to score at a higher efficiency than UK 's average defensive efficiency only three times, Florida State [1.082], Tennessee [0.889], and South Carolina [0.872].

Florida currently boast a Net Game Efficiency for the year of 0.244 ppp while UK 's current NGE stands at an anemic 0.054 ppp. UK has played a stronger schedule to this point of the season [0.5822 v 0.5204].

The Pros in Vegas say UK will leave Gainesville tonight the victim of an 8-point loss, 73-65. The Net Game Efficiency analysis, adjusted for schedule strength and venue suggests a UK loss to Florida , 76-62.

Kentucky 's current five game SEC winning streak will probably end on Saturday night. To avoid a loss at the hands of the Gators, UK must perform very well on offense as they have been doing of late and the defense must slow down the Florida offensive juggernaut from is customary range of 0.87 to 1.18 ppp to less than 0.87 ppp, Florida's poorest offensive performance of the year to date.

Florida has revealed a likely Achilles heel, failure to control the offensive boards. In their two losses, Florida posted higher offensive efficiencies than either Tennessee or South Carolina . However, the second chance points provided by bonus possessions provided the points necessary to overcome the efficiency deficits. In the case of the Tennessee game, Florida 's offensive efficiency was 0.9048 ppp while they held Tennessee to 0.889 ppp. However, Tennessee had six more possessions, sufficient for Tennessee to convert a probable 2-point loss into a 4-point victory. In the case of the USC game, Florida 's offensive efficiency was 0.925 ppp while they held USC to only 0.872 ppp. However, USC has eleven more possessions on the strength of its offensive rebounding differential, sufficient for USC to change a likely 5-point loss into a 6-point win.

These two games are not the only examples of Florida allowing opponents significantly more possessions during a game with weak offensive rebounding, as this differential has been -6 or more for Florida on 4 other occasions this year, most recently a -10 against Mississippi this past week. However, in each of those games, Florida 's defense held each of these opponents to low enough efficiency that the opponent could not take advantage of Florida 's weak board work.

The First Half:

By the end of the first segment, Florida moved out to a 9-6 lead, with each team hitting 3-5 and committing 3 turn overs. However, Florida made one three and UK none, and Florida made two free throw attempts. Both teams came out of the gates in race horse fashion, setting an early 85 to 90 possession pace. In the second game segment, UK continued to shoot the ball very well and commit turn overs, committing 4 more to Florida 's one. However, Florida 's shooting chilled, and UK cut the early 3 point lead to one, 15-14. The pace continued fast, at a 90 possession pace for both teams. The teams played even in the third segment. In the 4 th segment, UK eased into a 2 point lead, with the ball to start the last of the segments in the first half. The game is settling into a pace of 80 possessions, just as anticipated after the frentic start for the first 8 minutes. The teams played even in the final segment, and UK took a two point lead, 41-39 into the locker room. Kentucky is controlling the boards 18-12 total and 7-3 on offensive rebounds.

Kentucky won 2 of the 5 game segments and Florida won one segment; the remaining two segments were a draw. UK scored its 41 points on only 42 possessions [0.976 ppp] and Florida scored its 39 points on 39 possessions, 1.000 points per possession for the half.

Of UK's 42 first half possessions, 7 came by virtue of its offensive rebounding that produced 4 second chance points. Florida earned 3 bonus possessions created by its offensive rebounding that produced 0-second chance points. UK had outstanding offensive efficiency again on its first chance possessions, of 1.057 ppp on its 35 first chance possessions and a weak 0.5714 ppp for its 7-second chance possessions. Florida had a 1.054 ppp on its 37 first chance possessions and 0.000 ppp on its 3-second chance possessions.

Florida made 9 of its 11 free throw attempts [81.8%] while UK converted 7 of its 8 attempts from the line [87.5%]. Kentucky out rebounded Florida in the first half, 18-12, and Kentucky won the battle of the offensive boards, 7-3. The field goal shooting was solide for UK today, and Florida shot the ball very well also. From inside the arc, Florida also shot an outstanding 66.7% [12-18] and a weak 2-8 from beyond the arc [25.0%]. Kentucky was 11-18 [61.1%] inside the arc and a fair 4-12 [33.3%] from outside the arc. The game pace is equivalent to 84 possessions for UK and 78 possessions for Florida .


Today: the first team to score its 82nd point will win this game. UK needs to score 41 more points in the second half to reach this level before Florida can score 43 points in this race to 82 points. Florida scored its 82 nd point of the game with about 5:55 minutes to play to move ahead by 20, 82-62. Florida never looked back, finishing the game with a 95-80 victory in which Florida dominated UK in the second half.

The Second Half:

UK opened the second half with back to back baskets to expand their halftime lead to 6, at 45-39, but Florida responded with an 11 point run of their own to surge to a 5 point lead of their own, forcing Tubby Smith to burn a time out before the scheduled under 16 TV timeout. In first segment of the second half, Florida has owned the boards, cutting UK 's halftime board dominance from 18-12 to 18-16. At the first time out, Florida is 7 points ahead of schedule in the race to 82 points. By the under 12 TV timeout, at the end of game segment 7, Florida had settled into a lead ranging between 7 and 13 points, and 60-52 at the time out. The pace continues in the 80-85 range.

Florida continues to demonstrate its superior offense and defense during the second half and expand the lead to 71-60 at the end of the eighth segment of the game at the under 8 TV timeout. The pace is about 87 possessions for UK and 79 possessions for Florida , and in the race to 82, Florida needs 11 points before UK can score 22 points over the last 8 minutes of the game. Out of the time out, Florida converted two free throws, and continued their dominance of the second half until Tubby Smith called a timeout with 6:20 to play, down 80-62. Over the last 6 ½ minutes, UK cut that eventual 20 point lead to the final 15 point margin, losing to Florida 95-80.

The pace was the fastest of the year for UK , who raced for 92 total possessions for the game. However, Florida ended the game with only 84 possessions, and the 8 possession difference was due to UK 's control of the offensive boards throughout the game. For the first time in several games, the UK offensive efficiency was not substantiall above its season average, but the game efficiency was substantially higher than predicted by the NGE analysis for this game. UK 's offense finished at 0.870 ppp, after being 0.976 ppp at the half. In the second half, UK scored 39 points on 50 possessions, 0.780 ppp for the half. Florida closed this deal in the second half in which they scored 56 points on only 45 possessions, an incredible 1.244 ppp for the second half. Again tonight, UK 's defense was totally ineffective, allowing 1.000 ppp in the first half, and 1.145 ppp for the game.

The Outcome:

Kentucky won the battle of the boards for the game, 35-32, and Kentucky won the battle of the offensive boards, 14-5. . Florida grabbed a weak 19.2% of its misses as offensive rebounds while UK grabbed a below average 34.1% of its misses. UK scored 80 points on its 92 possessions [0.870 ppp] while Florida scored its 95 points using a total of 84 possessions [1.131 ppp]. Kentucky committed 17 turnovers to Florida 's 15 for the game.

Kentucky had 78 first chance possessions in which they scored 67 points, 0.859 ppp while they scored 13 points on their 14-second chance possessions, 0.929 ppp. Florida had 79 first chance possessions on which they scored 89 points, 1.127 ppp while they scored 6 second chance points on their 5 second chance possessions, 1.200 ppp.

Tonight UK shot the ball poorly from the field for the game. From the field, UK shot 44.7% [17-38] inside the arc, and an above average 10-27 from beyond the arc [37.0%] for a combined shooting percentage of 41.5%. The Free throw shooting was excellent in terms of percentage and the number of opportunities was average, 16-21 [76.2%]. Florida shot very well from the field today. From inside the arc, Florida hit 69.4% [25-36] and from long range, Florida hit 33.3% [5-15]. Florida 's free throw shooting outstanding, 30-37 [81.1%]. Kentucky committed one turnover for every 5.4 possessions while forcing a turnover in every 5.6 possessions. Last year, in comparison, these turnover rates were 6.2 and 4.6 respectively for the season.

I predicted a Kentucky loss to Florida today, 76-62. The predicted v. actual offensive efficiencies were 0.794 and 0.870 ppp respectively, and the predicted v. actual defensive efficiencies were 0.964 and 1.131 ppp respectively.


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