Kentucky Dominates Mississippi
From Start To End For 80-40 Win

Game Preview:

The Kentucky Wildcats took their rejuvenated defense on the road last Saturday to Columbia , South Carolina and returned to Lexington with an impressive 79-66 win over a Gamecock basketball team that had won three in a row, including a road win over the Florida Gators and a home win over Alabama . The Vegas pros, as well as a significant contingent of UK fans did not believe this UK team could bring home this win. But they did just that.

A win is a win, especially during a season in which wins against the lower division of the SEC have become challenging. However, a close examination of how UK secured this victory presents cause for concern for the future. In the first half against USC , UK played good, aggressive defense that held USC to less than 0.8 points per possession [0.778 ppp]; however, the UK offense in the first half was dormant at best. UK shot only 7 for 20 in the first half [35%] and only threw bricks from beyond the arc [0-8] and trailed USC by 3 points despite an excellent defensive performance for the half. However, this Dr. Jeckle and Hyde version of Wildcats reversed fortunes in the second half.

Offensively, the Cats played as if they were unconscious, hitting 20 of their 30 attempts [67%] and an astounding 8 of 9 from beyond the arc. While UK's offensive efficiency in the first half was off the chart at 0.676 ppp, in the second half, it was equally unbelievable, but in the opposing sense, at 1.543 ppp, producing a very impressive offensive effort for the entire game of 1.097 ppp. If UK 's second half defensive effort had matched the first half performance, UK would have clearly posted a rare [for this team] blow-out victory of 20 or more points. However, just as Dr. Jeckyl of UK offense became Mr. Hyde in the second half, UK 's Mr. Hyde of Defense that made a first half appearance turned into Jeckly in the second half, allowing USC to score at will, 0.907 ppp.

After the Georgia win last week, I observed that this particular team [coaches and players together] are not able to play defense and offense efficiently in the same game, the old walking and chewing gum syndrome. The USC game reinforces that observation, only this time they have gotten the window of focus narrowed to a full half. Nonetheless, the Cats will return to Rupp tonight for their annual encounter with the Ole Miss Rebels.

Mississippi comes to Rupp sporting a 14-11 record against D1 opposition, but they are only 4-8 against SEC opponents. Nonetheless, Mississippi does boast about wins over Alabama , South Carolina and Arkansas . A UK win over Mississippi on Wednesday will move UK into solid hold on 3 rd place in the SEC East at 8-5, and virtually assure the Cats of a non-losing SEC regular season. In addition, with recent Florida losses [now 4 in SEC play] UK will stay in the hunt for that precious SEC East 2 nd place and a first round SEC tournament bye.

Kentucky has been more effective offensively this season than Mississippi [0.879 ppp v. 0.854 ppp] and these teams have posted nearly identical defensive efficiencies on the season [0.846 ppp v. 0.845 ppp]. UK has averaged 80 possessions per game, while holding its opponents to only 78 possessions per game due to a +2 average offensive rebounding margin per game. Mississippi averages 79 possessions per game this season, and Mississippi 's opponents average 80 possessions per game. These teams should play today's game in the upper 70s to lower 80s pace.

Mississippi currently has a Net Game Efficiency for the year of 0.009 ppp while UK 's current NGE stands at a slightly better, but still an anemic 0.034 ppp. Kentucky has played a stronger schedule than Mississippi to this point of the season [0.5805 v 0. .5328].

The Pros in Vegas say Kentucky will defeat Mississippi Wednesday night by 13 points, 75-62. This season, Uk is 9-13 against the spread. The Net Game Efficiency analysis, adjusted for schedule strength and venue suggests a Kentucky win over Mississippi , 73-62.

A UK victory over Mississippi, if it occurs, will extend UK's current win streak to 3 games, and set the table for the final three regular season games, each against the best teams in the conference this season; Kentucky will play LSU and Tennessee on the road and Florida at home for senior day at Rupp Arena.

The First Half:

The games begins with each team shooting poorly, and Mississippie shooting worse than poorly as UK eases out to a 6-4 lead at the at the end of the first game segment. UK came out of the first time out, and began to find the range, making 5 of their 7 shots during the second segment after only making 2 of their first 7 attempts. Included in that flurry of points were three 3-pointers, two by Preston LeMaster, and UK surged to a 21-10 lead mid way through the first half. From there, UK completed one of its most impressive halves of the year, taking a 40-17 lead into the locker room.

Kentucky won 4 of the 5 game segments and the fifth segment was a draw in the first half. UK scored its 40 points on only 36 possessions [1.111 ppp] and Mississippi scored its 17 points on 36 possessions, 0.472 points per possession for the half.

Of UK's 36 first half possessions, 6 came by virtue of its offensive rebounding that produced 9 second chance points. USC earned 6 bonus possessions created by its offensive rebounding that produced 6-second chance points. UK had an impressive offensive efficiency on its first chance possessions, of 1.033 ppp on its 30 first chance possessions and a high 1.500 ppp for its 6-second chance possessions. Mississippi had a 0.367 ppp on its 30 first chance possessions and a poor, but took advantage of it 6 second chances by scoring 6 points, 1.000 ppp.

Mississippi made 5 of its 6 free throw attempts [83.3%] while UK converted 10 of its 10 attempts from the line [100.0%]. Kentucky out rebounded Mississippi in the first half, 20-14, and both teams grabbed 6 offensive rebounds during the first half. The field goal shooting Mississippi shot a poor 37.5% [6-16] and a pitiful 0-9 from beyond the arc [0.0%]. Kentucky was 9-17 [52.9%] inside the arc and a respectable 4-11 [36.4%] from outside the arc. The game pace is equivalent to 72 possessions for UK and 72 possessions for USC .


Today: the first team to score its 69 th point will win this game. UK needs to score 29 more points in the second half to reach this level before Mississippi can score 52 points in this race to 69 points. UK scored its 69 th point of the game on a 3 pointer by LeMaster with about 9 ½ minutes to play in the game to move UK up 70-27. UK played out the last 10 minutes of the clock to secure the victory, 80-40.

The Second Half:

UK came out for the second half with the same offensive and defensive intensity they played the first half, extending their lead to 40 points, 67-27 with 10:29 to play. They kept the pressure on Mississippi defensively, and continued its very strong offensive efficiency.

The Outcome:

Kentucky won the battle of the boards for the game, 42-33, but Mississippi won the battle of the offensive boards 17-11. Mississippi grabbed an impressive 35.4% of its misses as offensive rebounds while UK grabbed a very strong 40.7% of its misses. UK scored 80 points on its 72 possessions [1.111 ppp] while Mississippi scored its 40 points using a total of 79 possessions [0.506 ppp]. Kentucky committed 7 turnovers to Mississippi 's 12 for the game.

Kentucky had 61 first chance possessions in which they scored 69 points, 1.082 ppp while they scored 14 points on their 11-second chance possessions, 1.273 ppp. Mississippi had 62 first chance possessions on which they scored 28 points, 0.452 ppp while they scored 12 second chance points on their 17 second chance possessions, 0.706 ppp.

Tonight UK shot the ball above their season average from the field for the game. From the field, UK shot 54.5% [18-33] inside the arc, and an excellent 9-21 from beyond the arc [42.9%] for a combined shooting percentage of 50.0%. The Free throw shooting was better in terms of percentage and the number of opportunities, 17-22 [77.3%]. Mississippi shot far below their season average from the field today. From inside the arc, Mississippi hit 25.0% [9-36] and from long range, Mississippi hit only 18.2% [4-22]. Mississippi 's free throw shooting was poor, 10-18 [55.6%]. Kentucky committed one turnover for every 10.3 possessions while forcing a turnover in every 6.6 possessions. Last year, in comparison, these turnover rates were 6.2 and 4.6 respectively for the season.

I predicted a Kentucky win over Mississippi tonight, 73-62. The predicted v. actual offensive efficiencies were 0.926 and 1.111 ppp respectively for a B+ effort on offense. The predicted v. actual defensive efficiencies were 0.777 and 0.506 ppp respectively for a A on defense.


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