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Numbers favor Cats by 11 over Ole Miss

John Calipari and the Cats face Ole Miss today. (Vicky Graff Photo)

By RICHARD CHEEKS, Contributing Writer

On Tuesday night, it seemed the Kentucky Wildcats portrayed a modern version of Charles Dickens’ 1859 opening lines for his “A Tale of Two Cities” when the Cats played its best of halves and the worst of halves in the same game. When the Cats fell behind Vanderbilt by 14 points late in the first half of the game, they clearly played their worst half of basketball of the season.

When the Cats surged past Vanderbilt to post a 14-point victory at the final buzzer, they clearly played their best half of basketball this season. Some might prefer to compare this Kentucky team to Robert Louis Stevenson’s “Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,” which he penned in 1886. In either case, this team more mindful of 19th century struggles rather than the 21st century promise for #9.

The most that can be said about Tuesday’s win is that the Cats took care of business, leaving Nashville with a 19-5, 9-2 record. Now the focus shifts back to Rupp Arena and once again, the immediate task for the Cats is to take care of business against Mississippi, 13-11, 4-7, before closing the season at LSU, against Florida, Auburn and Tennessee at Rupp, and at Florida .

After opening their SEC season 1-7, Ole Miss enters Rupp Arena buoyed by a 3 game winning streak with a 14 point win over South Carolina (0.27 ppp Game ANE), 17 point win over Florida (0.39 ppp Game ANE), and a 25 point win over Mississippi State (0.48 ppp Game ANE). Mississippi has posted an average ANE over these last 3 games of 0.38 ppp.

Kentucky also brings a three-game winning streak into this game. After losing at Auburn, the Cats have beaten Mississippi State by 8 (0.22 ppp Game ANE), Tennessee by 13 (0.43 ppp Game ANE), and Vanderbilt by 14 (0.28 ppp Game ANE), which is an average ANE of 0.31 ppp over these last 3 games.

Mississippi’s season ANE of 0.101 ppp against a schedule strength of 0.061 ppp and an average tempo of 68.8 possessions per game. Kentucky’s season ANE of 0.207 ppp against a schedule strength of 0.69 ppp at an average tempo of 69.3.

The ANE analysis based on these season profiles points to an 11 point Kentucky win, 75-64 in a game played with 69 possessions. However, these teams’ recent performances suggest a much narrower margin in the low single digits.

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  1. UK scored its 67 points on 69 possessions (0.971 ppp) for the game, and MISSISSIPPI scored its 62 points on 67 possessions (0.925 ppp).

    Kentucky won the battle of the boards 41-33, and Kentucky controlled the offensive glass 11-8, which produced a 16-12 advantage on second chance points for the Cats. MISSISSIPPI had an offensive efficiency of 0.746 ppp on its 67 first chance possessions and 1.500 ppp for its 8 second chance possessions. UK had 0.739 ppp on its 69 first chance possessions and 1.455 ppp on its 11 second chance possessions. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed 30.6%of its misses as offensive rebounds while MISSISSIPPI was able to convert 21.1% of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.

    UK hit well from the free throw line in this game, making 19-24 [79.2%]. MISSISSIPPI made 8-11 [72.7%] for the game. Field goal shooting for UK was 23-59 overall [39.0%] and 2-22 from long range [9.1%]. For Mississippi, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was 18-43 [41.9%] and from long range, MISSISSIPPI hit 6-17 [35.3%].

    The Cats committed 11 turnovers, one for every 6.3 possessions. The Cats forced 12 MISSISSIPPI turnovers, one for every 5.6 possessions.

    Next Game On Schedule: Tuesday night at LSU in the Cats’ twenty sixth regular season game and the 13th game of the 2020 SEC season.

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