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Numbers favor Kentucky by 64 points over Asbury tonight

Wenyen Gabriel (Vicky Graff Photo)

Wenyen Gabriel (Vicky Graff Photo)


Last Sunday evening, Coach Calipari emptied his bench in an impressive 108-51 domination of Clarion in the Cats’ first exhibition game in preparation for the 2016-17 basketball season. As impressive as the first contest against an outside opponent was, I am confident that Coach Calipari identified areas requiring work, and as has been his practice over the first seven years at UK, he will use the week between exhibitions to shore up these areas.

However, make no mistake. My old eyes do not see obvious areas of deficiency from the Clarion game. The 1.33 ppp offensive efficiency is the 4th best in 8 first games, and the 0.65 ppp defensive efficiency is 2nd best (2009-10 was 0.50 ppp) in Coach Calipari’s 8 years for the first exhibition game. The first exhibition performance yielded a game raw efficiency of 0.69 points per possession, which is the 2nd highest such measure in all 8 of Coach Calipari’s tenure at UK in the first exhibition.

The individual performances in the first exhibition were consistently strong. Tai Wynyard posted an amazing individual game efficiency of 7 points per possession ended. He made both of his shots and both of his free throw attempts for 6 points. While he also committed one turnover, he secured three offensive rebounds resulting in a net 1 possession consumed during his 9 minutes of playing time.

But for Tai Wynyard’s very strong showing, Isaiah Briscoe’s individual efficiency would have been worthy of top team honors in any other season at 1.45 ppp. He played 22 minutes, scored 11 points on 5 total shots and 4 of 5 from the line. Isaiah Briscoe handed out 11 assists, had 3 steals, and only committed 2 turnovers. This level of contribution to the team this season will lead this team to places prior UK teams have failed to reach.

Two other Wildcats, Wenyen Gabriel and Edrice (BAM) Adebayo, each posted game efficiencies above 1.0 ppp in their first ever real game wearing the UK blue and white. Other notable game efficiencies posted by Wildcats in the first exhibition include:

Dominique Hawkins 0.77
Sacha Killeya-Jones 0.68
De’Aaron Fox 0.52
Malik Monk 0.46
Derek Willis 0.38
Isaac Humphries 0.33

Despite this opening game performance that left fans excited about the upcoming season, this Sunday evening, Coach Calipari will send his team back into Rupp Arena for the second, and last exhibition, this time against Asbury. We will again be entertained by what could be one of the best basketball teams of the Calipari Era at UK.

Asbury will appear in Rupp Arena on Sunday, November 6, 2016 for the last tune-up before beginning the 2016-17 basketball season against Stephen F. Austin on November 11, 2016.

Over the past 7 seasons, the Cats have averaged a 58 point victory over its second exhibition opponent (109-51) a statistically significant improvement over the average 41 point average margin (96-55) in the first exhibition games. This year’s 57 point margin in the first exhibition sets a high bar for the second game this season. Based on the exhibition history and the Asbury statistical profile from 2015-16, the analysis indicates a 64 point margin, 112-48.


  1. Analysis:

    UK scored its 156 points in a total of 109 possessions (1.43 ppp) for the game, and Asbury scored its 63 points on a total of 109 possessions (0.58 ppp).

    Kentucky won the battle of the boards, with a rebounding edge 71-44, but Asbury won the battle of the offensive glass 22-15. Kentucky used its 15 second chance possessions to score 15 second chance points, winning the second chance points battle 15-11. Asbury had an offensive efficiency of 0.477 ppp on its 109 first chance possessions and 0.500 ppp for its 22 second chance possessions. UK had 1.294 ppp on its 109 first chance possessions and 1.000 ppp on its 15 second chance possessions. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed 40.5%of its misses as offensive rebounds while Asbury was able to convert a respectable 28.2% of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.

    UK hit about average from the free throw line in this game, making 18-26 [69.2%]. Asbury made 11-21 [52.4%] for the game. Field goal shooting for UK was 66-96 overall [68.8%] and 6-19 from long range [31.6%]. For Asbury, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was a low 14-48 [29.2%] and from long range, Asbury hit 8-49 [16.3%].

    The Cats committed 16 turnovers, one for every 6.8 possessions. The Cats forced 24 Asbury turnovers, one for every 4.5 possessions.

    Next Game On Schedule: Next Friday night, again at Rupp Arena, the Cats will open the regular basketball season against Stephen F. Austin.

  2. The difference between this game and the other exhibitions was the pace. Typically, these exhibitions have 75 to 82 possessions, while UK averages 67 to 72 possessions per game against D1 opponents. Last night, there were 109 to 110 possessions.

    The net game efficiency was 0.840 ppp which is high. However, my analysis projected a game net efficiency of 0.815 ppp. Other UK teams have performed at or above this efficiency in the second exhibition game during the Calipari Era. For example,

    2009-10 0.782 ppp
    2010-11 0.803 ppp
    2011-12 1.050 ppp
    2012-13 0.694 ppp
    2013-14 0.307 ppp This is the real outlier for the Calipari Era
    2014-15 0.841 ppp
    2015-16 0.621 ppp
    2016-17 0.840 ppp

    The 109 possessions in a game is the highest I have seen in any game since I have tracked pace in the early 1990s. The Joe B. Hall team in 1975 played at that pace frequently. Nothing close since to my knowlegde

    So, the real point about last night was the pace, not the dominance.

    This is a very strong UK team as evidenced by this year’s powerful showing in both of its exhibitions.

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