Obviously, the game that the Kentucky Wildcats played against the Georgia Bulldogs wound up being a lot closer than any of us would have hoped. In the end, the 'Cats got the win, but what can we learn about this young Kentucky team in retrospect?
All too often, I forget to record a game on the DVR so I can go back an analyze what went right and what went wrong, so I am mostly working from memory and statistics on this one. We knew coming in that Georgia was a much more talented team than they get credit for, and they really proved that against Kentucky. On a given night, I think Georgia is capable of upsetting anyone in the nation.
On a side note, and offered in support of my assumption above, I don't think anyone would dispute that the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets are a dangerous team, particularly so since they upset the Duke Blue Devils on Saturday in Atlanta, and this same Georgia Bulldogs team dispatched the Yellow Jackets last Tuesday in Athens. With the additional consideration of how a seriously short-handed Tennessee Volunteers team defeated the Kansas Jayhawks on Sunday in Nashville, I think it's safe to say that there are no truly dominant teams in college basketball this year. Texas still looks awfully good, but they are no North Carolina of 2008-09.
Parity? Maybe. But for now, follow me past the jump for further consideration of the latest Wildcat victory.
The first place we always go is to the four factors, courtesy of Statsheet.com:
The first thing I notice is that Georgia outshot Kentucky 52.8-45.0 in eFG%. 99 times out of 100, that should equal a defeat for Kentucky, because as you'll notice toward the bottom of this Pomeroy Gameplan where it shows the correlations, UK's offensive efficiency is tightly bound to eFG% and OR%. Yet Kentucky lost both those statistics, which should normally mean upset city. Georgia's season average eFG% is only about 48%, and they bested that against Kentucky significantly.
So how did Kentucky win? Of course, you can see how that happened. Georgia turned the ball over an absurd 31.5% of the time, and UK had one of its lowest turnover games of the year at 18.9% (a really good number for this offense, by the way). That gave Kentucky seven more shots on goal than the Dawgs, which is not a huge number, but is significant.
But the real problem for Georgia, even more significant than the turnovers, was the FTR%, where UK enjoyed almost a 27 percentage point advantage over the Dawgs. The only reason this game was even close is because the Wildcats shot a lousy 67% from the line, which is bad enough to be in the bottom third of all of college basketball.
Let's take a look at the box score:
|Stat||Game||Season Avg||Opp Season Avg|
|3pt FG Att||14||14||11||16||16||21|
|3pt FG Made||6||2||4||6||5||7|
|3pt FG Pct||42.9||14.3||34.5||39.1||33||36.4|
First of all, the 3pt FG%. Wow. This is what many had expected of the Wildcats this year, and some will say that this is a sign of weakness. They are only half right.
UK has shot open 3-pointers very well this year, but a lot of the 3-point shots they took against Georgia were contested. The reason for that is Georgia's zone was very effective in keeping the UK guards out of the paint. Georgia allowed entry passes to the the post (which they should have more vigorously denied), but they stayed home on UK's perimeter shooters, forcing the 3-point looks to be challenged. They depended on their inside guys to handle UK's post players, and it almost worked. Georgia just fouled too often and UK made enough free throws to win the game.
Now take a look at the field goals. UK made one more than Georgia due to the extra shots they got, even though they shot a poor percentage (for this team, anyway). But four more of Georgia's made FG's were 3-pointers. Ouch.
But the fouls were the difference, and DeMarcus Cousins deserves all the credit in the world for fouling out Georgia's front line. Georgia had no less than 3 front-line players, all starters or major reserves, sitting on the pine at the end of the game. DeMarcus Cousins shot 10 free throws, making six, and john Wall shot nine, making six.
Speaking of Wall, he managed five assists today, about average, but also turned the ball over 3 times. The only guy who had more was Cousins, with 4. All three of Wall's turnovers were ballhandling errors - two were travels and the other, I think, was a bad pass, but all three of them happened in the first half. In the second half, Wall played turnover-free basketball.
Here are the game stats for your perusal:
Georgia had 10 more fouls called on them than the Wildcats, which was mostly courtesy of DeMarcus Cousins' inspired play.
Kentucky coming up with 12 steals is also impressive, with Cousins and Liggins both with 3 to lead the team. That led to a 25-15 points-off-turnovers advantage for the Wildcats.
I notice Patterson had a better rebounding game this time out, despite some criticism from Coach Cal after the game. I think Patrick is deferring too much to his teammates and does need to develop a more aggressive attitude. I expect that will happen. I also note that Cousins only managed 7 rebounds, but he also played 12 fewer minutes than Patterson did. Darius Miller and Liggins only had one rebound apiece, the only real criticism I can find for DeAndre Liggins' play.
Once again, as has been the case for most of the year, our defense was inadequate, particularly on the wing and in the back court. Travis Leslie absolutely dominated the small forward position against two more highly touted players. He scored 20 points, had exactly 1 three and is a whopping 6'4". Yes, he is an athletic freak, but surely we can expect better defense out of the 3-spot than that.
And speaking of defense, Patrick Patterson won't get much credit for this, but even though Howard "Trey" Thompkins scored 17 points, he was 5-15 from the field, 33%. Given that almost all his shots were taken from inside the paint, that's some pretty decent defense.
That's enough for now. Add your observations below. The Florida Gators in Gainesville are up next, and I'll have more on that later.