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Numbers favor Kentucky by 24 point over Tennessee State

By RICHARD CHEEKS, Contributing Writer

The first five games have provided my first benchmark reading for Kentucky basketball teams, and the 2018-19 five game benchmark is disappointing, to say the least. One year ago, Coach Calipari presented to the Big Blue Nation his weakest start of the Calipari Era at UK. One year ago today, the Cats’ Adjusted Net Efficiency (ANE) was 0.145 points per possession (ppp) which was #63 in the nation.

Based on that start, my examination of those tea leaves led to a conclusion that the 2017-18 Cats “should develop into a Sweet 16 type team by year-end. Such a team could advance to the Elite 8 before falling out, or exit early, in the Round of 32. A run at the championship in the Final 4 or an exit in the first round of the tournament is not a likely outcome for this team based on these historical relationships and results.”

( The 2017-18 Cats finished as the #17 most efficient team in the nation in the Sweet 16.

Big Blue Fans should buckle up for what lies ahead for this season based on these first five games, and the examination of the 2018-19 tea leaves. The Adjusted Net Efficiency through 5 games this season stands at 0.095 points per possession which is barely strong enough to remain in the top 100 rankings on Thanksgiving Day (#92).

Without reliving the details of the initial 5 games of this season, suffice it to say that this team should develop into a Round of 32 type team by year-end. Such a team could advance to the Sweet 16 before falling out, or exit early, in the first round of play. A run at the Elite 8, much less a Final Four appearance is not a likely outcome for this team based on the historical relationships between how UK teams start and how they have finished from those starts.

Today, #303 Tennessee State comes into Rupp sporting a 2-3 overall, but their wins came at the expense of Carver NR (92-57) and Fisk NR (113-61). Tennessee State is 0-3 against D1 opposition losing at #77 Lipscomb by 7, to #159 Little Rock by 16, and at #273 Cal St. Northridge by 3. This produces an early season ANE of -0.158 ppp at an average pace of almost 79 possessions per game. In contrast, the #92 Cats bring an ANE of 0.095 ppp at an average pace of 74 possessions per game.

The ANE analysis indicates a Kentucky win by 24 points, 85-64, in a game played at a pace of 78 possessions. Pomeroy projects a 25 point Kentucky win over Tennessee State, 87-62, at a pace of about 73 possessions. Vegas has opened with the Cats favored by 28 points. For the reasons identified above, the primary focus on this game against Tennessee State is whether the final margin is 20 or less, or 35 or more at the final buzzer.

See how other UK fans handicap this game at 247Sports, The Cats Pause message board at:

You can participate in the score prediction contest at 247Sports at the following link:


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  1. These numbers come as no surprise to me and looking ahead to the ’19-’20 season, they will more than likely be even worse.
    Something is amiss and unless things change for the better, the long term result is not going to be pretty.

  2. You can’t base what happen in the first 5 games and say the season going to be a long one. Yes they got ways to go and they will improve as the season goes along. I rather struggle now and see our weakness is in this early part of season than later part of the season. This not the first time our cats gotten off such a slow start. IT’S WAY TOO EARLY DOWN FALL THIS TEAM LIKE SOME PEOPLE HAVE AFTER ALL THERE HUMANS LIKE WE ARE AND HELL OF LOT YOUNGER THAN WE ARE.. JUST BE THANKFULL WERE IN SHAPE LIKE LOUISVILLE IS.

  3. Thankful were not in shape like Louisville is what i meant

  4. Be curious to see if Nick shows up to play. His production and consistency will be crucial for our success this year.

  5. Analysis:

    UK scored its 77 points on 70 possessions (1.100 ppp) for the game, and TENNESSEE STATE scored its 62 points on 71 possessions (0.873 ppp).

    Kentucky won the battle of the boards, with a rebounding edge 37-28, and Kentucky won the battle of the offensive glass 14-10. Kentucky used its 14 second chance possessions to score 18 second chance points, and TENNESSEE STATE used its10 second chance possessions to score12 second chance points. TENNESSEE STATE had an offensive efficiency of 0.704 ppp on its 71 first chance possessions and 1.200 ppp for its 12 second chance possessions. UK had 0.843 ppp on its 70 first chance possessions and 1.286 ppp on its 14 second chance possessions. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed 43.8%of its misses as offensive rebounds while TENNESSEE STATE was able to convert 30.3% of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.

    UK hit poorly from the free throw line in this game, making 27-41 [65.9%]. TENNESSEE STATE made 12-19 [63.2%] for the game. Field goal shooting for UK was 23-52 overall [44.2%] and 4-15 from long range [26.7%]. For TENNESSEE STATE, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was 16-38 [42.1%] and from long range, TENNESSEE STATE hit 6-16 [37.5%].

    The Cats committed 14 turnovers, one for every 5.0 possessions. The Cats forced 19 TENNESSEE STATE turnovers, one for every 3.7 possessions.

    Next Game On Schedule: Wednesday evening, again at Rupp Arena, the Cats will take on Monmouth in the seventh regular season game of the 2018-19 season.

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