Notable wins for the Tigers this year are versus the Virginia Cavaliers at home. Notable losses are versus the Florida St. Seminoles and Tennessee Volunteers away, South Carolina Gamecocks and Sam Houston St. Bearkats (a common foe with the Wildcats) at home, and to the N.C. State Wolfpack at a neutral site.
Let's take a quick look at the comparison between the Gators and the 'Cats, courtesy of Statsheet.com:
|Rank and Records||AU||UK|
|Strength of Schedule||137||119|
|RPI Top 50||1-1||4-0|
Auburn, as you can see, has not been a very good team so far this year, so this game figures to be a mismatch, especially considering the size differential between the two teams, which we will get to after the jump.
Today, we'll examine the Four Factors in tabular form, courtesy of Ken Pomeroy's site:
|Kentucky Wildcats||Auburn Tigers|
|Adj. Efficiency:||117.2 ||90.6 ||100.9 ||98.6 ||100.2|
|Adj. Tempo:||70.7 ||68.3||72.5 ||68.3|
|Effective FG%:||55.2 ||44.7 ||50.9 ||51.3 ||48.8|
|Turnover %:||21.0 ||21.0 ||21.5 ||23.5 ||20.9|
|Off. Reb. %:||43.0 ||30.7 ||33.6 ||31.8 ||33.0|
|FTA/FGA:||40.3 ||27.1 ||37.7 ||36.4 ||37.3|
|3P%:||39.1 ||35.9 ||31.2 ||37.8 ||34.2|
|2P%:||53.9 ||39.6 ||53.8 ||48.3 ||47.6|
|FT%:||69.0 ||69.8 ||63.9 ||68.3 ||68.6|
|Block%:||7.4 ||18.7 ||9.8 ||7.0 ||9.3|
|Steal%:||9.9 ||10.4 ||10.4 ||12.3 ||9.9|
|3PA/FGA:||27.1 ||35.6 ||41.3 ||36.0 ||32.5|
|A/FGM:||54.7 ||51.0 ||51.8 ||56.5 ||53.6|
|Point Distribution (% of total points)|
|3-Pointers:||23.0 ||35.4 ||30.7 ||32.1 ||27.1|
|2-Pointers:||56.9 ||47.1 ||50.2 ||48.4 ||52.2|
|Free Throws:||20.1 ||17.5 ||19.1 ||19.5 ||20.8|
|Strength of Schedule|
|Components:||101.0 ||100.0 ||101.5 ||102.5 ||100.2|
|Overall:||0.5278 ||.5000||0.4722 ||.5000|
|Non-conference:||0.4843 ||.5000||0.3923 ||.5000|
|Bench Minutes:||31.6% ||32.0%||33.1% ||32.0%|
|Experience:||0.98 yrs ||1.69||1.92 yrs ||1.69|
|Effective Height:||+3.9 ||0.0||+0.0 ||0.0|
|Average Height:||78.8" ||76.5"||76.4" ||76.5"|
Four Factors Analysis
It has been awhile since Kentucky has played a team in which the Four Factors were so lopsided in their favor.
Kentucky is a much better offensive and defensive team in terms of efficiency than the Tigers, but particularly defensively. Colloquially speaking, the Tigers are defensively challenged, with their 98.6 DE the third worst in the conference, ahead only of the Arkansas Razorbacks and LSU Tigers. The offensive efficiency of Auburn is next to last, with only LSU behind them. Conversely, Kentucky leads the league in offensive efficiency and is third in defensive efficiency behind Tennessee and the Mississippi Rebels.
Kentucky is significantly superior to the Tigers in eFG%, OR% and FTR%, both offensively and defensively. The Wildcats even turn the ball over less than the Tigers, although they force fewer turnovers than Auburn does.
Auburn Tigers Basketball Roster
|Ty Armstrong||5||F||Major reserve, major contributor
|Kenny Gabriel||22||F||Reserve, role player
|Lucas Hargrove||4||F||Starter, significant contributor
|Brendan Knox||30||C||Major reserve, role player
|Johnnie Lett||34||F||Starter, infrequent contributor
|Andre Malone||1||G||Reserve, role player
|Tony Neysmith||15||G||Reserve, role player
|DeWayne Reed||12||G||Starter, leading scorer
|Earnest Ross||33||G||Reserve, role player
|Frankie Sullivan||20||G||Starter, 2nd leading scorer, role player
|Josh Wallace||11||G||Reserve, limited role
|Tay Waller||24||G||Starter, role player
|Larry Williams Jr||10||G||-||160||6-2||junior|
|Larry Williams Jr||7||4.6||0.7||1.6||45.5||0.6||1.4||40.0||0.1||0.7||20.0||0.0||0.4||0.4||0.0||0.3||0.3||0.0||0.7||2.1|
Position Analysis: Back Court
Whether you want to call him a combo guard or the point guard, DeWayne Reed is the senior leader of this Auburn Tigers team. Reed leads the team in assists as well as scoring, and has been an average 3-point shooter throughout his whole career. At 6'1", Reed has average size and good quickness, can get to the rim and finish.
Also starting guard for the Tigers is sophomore Frankie Sullivan. Sullivan is the second leading scorer and third in assists. Sullivan is a good shooter from the arc, shooting the three at 39.2% this year. Sullivan takes the most shots from outside the arc, and he is pretty much a designated shooter
The third guard for Auburn is Tay Waller, a 6'2" senior. Waller is also a very good perimeter shooter, also averaging 39.2% just like his back-court mate Sullivan. Waller shoots the second-most three pointers on the team, but can also get to the rim and finish.
None of the Auburn guards are anywhere near the quality of either John Wall or Eric Bledsoe. Wall is not only quicker than either of these two, but bigger and a better athlete as well. Both Wall and Bledsoe are shooting far better from the perimeter and both can get to the rim against their less talented Auburn counterparts.
It could be that this is the time that Calipari starts DeAndre Liggins in place of Darius Miller, because Miller will have a bit of trouble keeping up with the smaller guards for the Tigers. Either way, it is of paramount importance that Kentucky guards the perimeter well against the Tigers. They have not shot the ball particularly well from the perimeter this year, but that could change, and if it does, their strength will be directly in opposition to Kentucky's biggest weakness -- perimeter defense.
Position Analysis: Front Court
Auburn's front court players are Lucas Hargrove, a 6'6" senior, and Johnnie Lett, a 6'8" senior.
Hargrove is the third leading scorer on the Auburn team, and the leading rebounder at 7.3 per game. Hargrove can shoot the three, but doesn't shoot a very good percentage at 24.5%. But he has taken a fair number this year, so Kentucky has to guard him out there.
Johnnie Lett is really just a big body who does very little except defend. He is pretty good at that, although he will really have his hands full against DeMarcus Cousins, who is Kentucky's go-to player in the middle.
Patrick Patterson and Demarcus Cousins both have huge offensive and defensive advantages in this game. There is really not too much to say here execpt that both these positions are a major mismatch.
Advantage: Significant Kentucky
Auburn plays a ton of guys off the bench, and Brendan Knox, a 6'10" senior, will be a major contributor off the bench in terms of points and rebounds. Ernest Ross and Josh Wallace add some good passing, and Ross is a good rebounder.
But although a lot of people see time off the Auburn bench, their bench is not very talented.
Auburn is one of the smallest and least talented teams in the SEC, and it is likely to show today. But what Auburn does to negate that advantage is fire up a bunch of three point shots and run up and down the floor -- notice the tempo static and the 3PA/FGA stat in the table above. If you thought the Florida Gators or the Louisville Cardinals liked a high tempo, it is nothing compared with what we can expect to see today.
Auburn presses to get the tempo up, and they do cause turnovers with thier press -- only Tennessee, South Carolina and the Alabama Crimson Tide, all pressing teams, cause more turnovers than the Tigers.
But the Tigers have never faced two guards of the quality of John Wall and Eric Bledsoe, and they have never faced a team that likes to run as much as Kentucky does. Most teams are wise not to get into a track meet with the Wildcats, because John Wall and Eric Bledsoe are much more dangerous in transition than in the half court, and even Cousins, Patterson and Orton love to run the floor.
Auburn will probably zone the 'Cats, as most teams have done this year, but will likely wind up with similar results. Kentucky has really improved its zone offense, and the dearth of size in this Auburn team will make getting defensive rebounds very tough against the Kentucky big men.
Projected score: Kentucky 100, Auburn 74.