How much do turnovers hurt? This much

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We hear all the talk about how turnovers are hurting this Kentucky team, and anyone who has a whit of basketball IQ knows that it's true.  But sometimes, it's hard to figure out just how much they are hurting, and if all turnovers are created equal.

So to help analyze this question, I have taken the five BCS school games from the UK out of conference schedule and analyzed the turnovers for your edification here at A Sea of Blue.  Here is how the gruesome truth looks when looking at the true cost of turnovers.

We'll be examining turnovers from several angles, including the raw cost in terms of points as well as the opportunity cost.

Raw cost by turnover type:

Kentucky Turnovers against BCS Schools
School Direct TO Indirect TO Total TO Total POTO Pts off direct Pts off indirect Opp Score % TTL score
Louisville 8 13 21 24 13 11 74 32.43%
Miami 6 8 14 19 8 11 73 26.03%
UNC 16 12 28 31 20 11 77 40.26%
Kansas St. 10 21 31 22 15 7 72 30.56%
West Virginia 6 17 23 13 3 10 43 30.23%
Totals 46 71 117 109 59 50 339 32.15%
Avg/Game 9.2 14.2 23.4 21.8 11.8 10 67.8 32.15%









Direct TO Value 1.28






Indirect TO Value 0.7






Opportunity cost:

Opportunity cost
School Turnovers eFG% Points POTO Total points cost
Louisville 21 0.53 22.3 24 46.3
Miami 14 0.37 10.39 19 29.39
UNC 28 0.48 26.77 31 57.77
Kansas St. 31 0.77 47.49 22 69.49
West Virginia 23 0.4 18.26 13 31.26
Totals 117
125.21 109 234.21
Avg/Game 23.4
25.04 21.8 46.84

Obviously, these are troubling statistics.  We are giving the opponent an opportunity to score an average of 21.8 points per game plus surrendering the opportunity to score 25 for ourselves.  That amounts to 46.8 points per game, and is more than the averages of Jodie Meeks and Patrick Patterson put together.  [Note -- thanks to JLeverenz for pointing out that my first go-round calculated possessions, not points.]

I'd say this is a rather urgent problem, the biggest and most urgent being direct turnovers, or "live" turnovers.  They are worth almost twice as much to a team as an indirect turnover (i.e. a pass out of bounds or a violation).  But both cost, and only the fact that Kentucky is one of the best shooting teams in the nation has prevented us from going down more often due to our ballhandling largess.  Just look at how much turnovers alone are contributing to the opponent's score.  If we had managed to cut turnovers by 25%, that would represent a net gain of 6.25 points, plus a net loss of 5.5 points for the opposition, for a total of 12 additional points.

Do you think maybe we could have used those additional 12 points in some of our losses?

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