By RICHARD CHEEKS, Contributing Writer
The Cats return to Rupp Arena tonight after getting out of Lubbock with a hard fought win over a good Texas Tech team on Saturday in the 2020 version of the SEC-Big 12 challenge. Since dropping a pair of neutral court games in Las Vegas before Christmas, the Cats have put together seven wins in their last eight games including an overtime win at Rupp over #9 Louisville, and road games at Georgia, Arkansas, and Texas Tech. The only loss in over the last month was a 3-point loss at South Carolina in a game that remains a head scratcher.
The Cats have been improving, just as Coach Calipari has promised that his team would, and there remains room for further growth as the season’s last January game will occur on Wednesday when Vanderbilt comes to Rupp.
Vanderbilt opened the 2019-20 season with 5 wins in their first six games generally against an assortment of weak sisters of the poor. However, since Thanksgiving, the Commodores have only won 3 times in 13 starts. Through 19 games, Vanderbilt’s strongest single game has been a 37 point win over #334 South Carolina State (Game ANE, 0.34 ppp), and Vanderbilt’s last win was over #101 Davidson by 5 (Game ANE, 0.16 ppp). The Commodores are winless in SEC play and bring an overall record of 8-11 into Rupp Arena.
Vanderbilt’s current ANE is an 0.011 ppp against a schedule strength of 0.027 ppp and a tempo of 70.3 possessions per game. The Cats bring an ANE of 0.210 ppp into this game having played a schedule strength of 0.064 ppp at a tempo of 70.2 possessions per game.
Based on this data for these teams, an ANE analysis indicates this game will have a tempo of 70 possessions with the Cats winning by 18 points, 81-63.