By RICHARD CHEEKS, Contributing Writer
On Saturday afternoon, the Cats should have learned a lesson that one would hope no UK team would have to learn after the Calendar had turned to March. With our without Reid Travis, this team was not prepared to compete when it entered TBA to face an angry group of Volunteers. The big question is why any UK team would not be prepared for the battle that the whole world knew was coming from Tennessee.
As a result of this loss, the Cats are almost certain to go into the SEC Tournament as the #3 seed, having to play on Friday night for an opportunity to play either Tennessee or LSU on Saturday afternoon. A tough row to hoe, and should the Cats manage to advance to the championship game on Sunday afternoon, they will probably have to face the other of the top two teams, LSU or Tennessee.
There is no way for the Cats to drop to the #4 seed, and to advance to a #2 seed, Tennessee must lose to Auburn while the Cats must beat Ole Miss and Florida. For all intents and purposes, the SEC race ended for the Cats on Saturday afternoon.
Since the first meeting against Tennessee at Rupp Arena, this has not been the same UK team that had been steadily climbing up the charts. Since that first Tennessee game, this team has been in decline, and noticeably so. That is not the trend a team wants to establish in the early days of March.
Now, this team must stay on the road and find a way to beat a good, and pesky Ole Miss team that did compete with those same Volunteers a week ago in Oxford, before losing to the Vols by 2 points following a disputed charging call in the final seconds of the game. If the Cats are not prepared to battle on Tuesday night, they will start March with back to back losses.
#43 Mississippi’s three most recent games were decided by 1 or 2 points. The Rebels beat Georgia by 1 point and lost to Tennessee by 2 and at Arkansas by 1 point. MISSISSIPPI brings a 19-10, 9-7 SEC record into this game against the Cats. The Rebels schedule has a SOS value of 0.0797 ppp (#50). The MISSISSIPPI ANE for the season stands at 0.179 ppp and their ANE over the last 5 games is 0.169 ppp.
The Cats’ schedule has a SOS value of 0.1006 ppp (#22). The Cats’ ANE for the season stands at 0..293 ppp, their season ANE since game 7 has been 0.338 ppp, and their ANE over the last 5 games is 0.278 ppp.
The ANE analysis based on Kentucky’s ANE since game 7 indicates a Kentucky margin of 7 point, 75-68, in a game played at a pace of 69 possessions. As a matter of record, the traditional ANE analysis indicates a 4 1/2 point Kentucky advantage and a “last 5” analysis indicates a UK advantage of 4 point. Pomeroy has this game as a 4 point Kentucky win, 72-68, at a pace of 66 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: