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Numbers favor UK by 21 points over Vanderbilt

By RICHARD CHEEKS, Contributing Writer

On Tuesday, the Cats face Vanderbilt in Nashville in a rematch of the game these teams played at Rupp on January 12 that saw the Cats scratch their way to an unimpressive 9-point win, 56-47. Since that time, the Cats won back to back road games at #105 Georgia by 20, and a tough 2-point win at #13 Auburn. The Cats then won impressively at Rupp over #28 Mississippi State by 21 and over #17 Kansas by 8.

Now the Cats return to the road for their first rematch of the season. Vanderbilt, since their loss at Rupp, has lost all four of their games, three SEC games all in Nashville against # 108 South Carolina by 3, #28 Mississippi State by 16, and #5 Tennessee by 5 in OT before losing at #23 Oklahoma by 31 points in the SEC-Big 12 challenge last Saturday.

Vanderbilt’s fortunes have been declining since the beginning of the year. After finishing the bulk of their non-conference schedule 8-4, the Commodores are winless in 2019, losing all 6 of their SEC games and their only additional non-conference game to stand at 9-10.

In contrast, the Cats have won their last 6 games, and 9 of their last 10 games since their disappointing loss to Seton Hall at MSG on December 8. In addition, as this winning streak continues to extend, the quality of the Cats’ play is steadily improving. In these last four games since the initial encounter with Vanderbilt, the Cats’ game ANE values have been 0.436 ppp, 0.377 ppp, 0.417 ppp, and 0.299 ppp, with a four game average 0.382 ppp.

The Commodores’ schedule has a SOS value of 0.0412 ppp (#56). The Vanderbilt ANE for the season stands at 0.065 ppp and their ANE over the last 5 games is 0.005 ppp.

The Cats’ schedule has a SOS value of 0.0550 ppp (#39). The Cats’ ANE for the season stands at 0.258 ppp and their ANE over the last 5 games is 0.354 ppp.

The ANE (Last 5 game basis) analysis indicates a Kentucky margin of 21 points, 79-58, in a game played at a pace of 72 possessions. As a matter of record, the traditional ANE analysis indicates a 9-point Kentucky advantage (74-65). Pomeroy has this game as 9 points in Kentucky’s favor, 73-69, at a pace of 68 possessions.

Use the following link to see how other UK fans handicap this game at 247Sports, The Cats Pause message board:

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


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  1. If you’re taking UK and giving 20 points please put me down for $10,000. No way UK should be that much of a favorite at Vandy. The floor is always an issue there and any road game in the SEC is tough.

  2. Watchin UT/SC…don’t see how we can stop Williams inside. They also move the ball extremely well. Would be happy for split.

    1. If UK plays like they did last night they will destroy Tennessee.

  3. KU just got beat on the road. Is this bad omen for us?

    1. It does take away some of the value of the win. I see this Kansas losing 4 or 5 more games this year and not being ranked at tourney time.

  4. Then cheer on the Vols. Mike your the No. 1 negative cat fan that know of.

    1. Cats79….you still cant handle the truth thru blue tinted glasses can you? Fact…UT deserves to be #1 because they have good players, are well coached, and the most experience in SEC if not the country. We are now a very good team..they are better. Let’s hope we get a split.

  5. Great win! They finally dominated a bad team on the road and in Nashville of all places. Everyone is finally playing defense and that has been the difference in the last 5 games. I think we will match up with UT and probably will have a split. LSU is the wild card. The game in the Bayou may be as hard as the game at Rocky Top. We need to win one of those road games. Lets see if they can keep their composure on the road with a competitive team.

    1. That bad team should have beaten No. 1 a few days earlier Catmandoo1000. I think Vandy is not nearly as bad as they looked last night. UK was a real meat grinder last night, and is turning into a very formidable team. Give Calipari credit too. UK better not get too cocky though. Stay hungry and focused is my advice. There are teams left on UK’s schedule that will be tough to beat, especially on the road as you mention.

  6. Analysis:

    UK scored its 87 points on 66 possessions (1.318 ppp) for the game, and VANDERBILT scored its 52 points on 66 possessions (0.788 ppp).

    Kentucky and Vanderbilt each grabbed 29 rebounds, and Vanderbilt won the battle of the offensive boards with a rebounding edge 9-6. Kentucky won the second chance point battle 7-5. VANDERBILT had an offensive efficiency of 0.712 ppp on its 66 first chance possessions and 0.556 ppp for its 9 second chance possessions. UK had 1.212 ppp on its 66 first chance possessions and 1.167 ppp on its 6 second chance possessions. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed 23.1% of its misses as offensive rebounds while VANDERBILT was able to convert 28.1% of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.

    UK hit well from the free throw line in this game, making 17-23 (73.9%]. VANDERBILT made 9-18 [50.0%] for the game. Field goal shooting for UK was 30-54 overall [55.8%] and 10-17 from long range [58.8%]. For VANDERBILT, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was 8-22 [36.4%] and from long range, VANDERBILT hit 9-24 [37.5%].

    The Cats committed 7 turnovers, one for every 9.4 possessions. The Cats forced 20 VANDERBILT turnovers, one for every 3.3 possessions.

    Next Game On Schedule: Saturday afternoon against Florida in Gainesville for the twenty first regular season game and the 8th game of the 2019 SEC season.

  7. Wow shows what I know. Obviously UK has been playing better but not that much better until tonight. Total domination.


    The strength of any team is NOT defined by how it plays on its very best performance, and last night was in that category of performances. I recall the 1996 team taking Vandy apart in Nashville and winning by 39 points. We call can recall similar poleaxing delivered by the Cats over the decades. However, it takes a very good team to be able to deliver what we witnessed last night.

    Similarly, the strength of any team is NOT defined by how it plays on one of its “off” games, which all teams, even the great ones, have from time to time.

    The strength of any team is defined by its average level of performance over a significant period of time. This team has been defining itself on terms that are meaningfully good over the last 13 games. The graph linked above shows the game by game strength of performance for this season. The horizonal lines, in 5 game increments, are the average level of performance for each of those 5 game increments.

    The criteria for a legitimate NCAA championship contender is an average ANE > 0.3 ppp, with top 20 rated offensive and defensive efficiencies. This team meets that criteria for games 8-20, and does so at a level that is probably the strongest in the country.

    I don’t think this team has finished its growth, which will either be borne out over the next 5 to 11 games, or not.

    For me, to the extent that is humanly possible, I have eliminated the first 7 games from my current memory and my thinking about this team.

    At this point, I have the Cats favored in every remaining game. The game at Tennessee has the smallest theoretical margin, 2 points, and presents the game with the highest likelihood of a UK loss (52% UK wins to 48% UT wins).

    This was the basis for the 21 point theoretical margin at Vandy, and yes this team did outperform the model last night by a significant amount (14 points). Had it under performed the model by a similar amount, and won by only 7 points, that would not change my view or analysis any more than the actual 14 point over performance has changed my view or analysis.

    1. Commenting on your second paragraph above, your statement is as good an explanation as I have heard on the 38-1 UK team that should have won it all that year.

  9. The 2015 team was the #1 efficient team that year.

    Since 2002, the #1 efficient team has won about 50% of the championships. That means that a team other than the #1 efficient team wins about 50% of the time.

    I want my team to be #1 efficient team, and as of this point of the season, this UK team is the #1 efficient team in the nation IF you ignore those first 7 games.

    For me and my household, we are ignoring those first 7 games, and will continue to do so. That was not the team we saw in August, and that was not the team we have seen since, which is very close to what we saw in August.

    This team is a legitimate contender for the championship.

    Yes, there are others, but from my perspective, there are on that many.

    Duke, Virginia, Gonzaga, and Michigan State along with UK is my short list.

  10. My wish list is for this team to win out. And let me add too that I want to see this UK team spank Auburn like they did Vandy last night come 2/23. Bruce Pearl and that bunch need a dose of UK’s wrath at Rupp after the treatment UK received at their house. Pearl needs a dose of humble pie, he has a big mouth.

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