Louisville Evening Preview: Kentucky vs Western Kentucky, Iowa State vs Connecticut

The following games take place tomorrow night, Thursday March 15, in the Louisville pod. The games tip at 6:40 pm. This pod features the tournament favorite and overall number 1 seed Kentucky. It also showcase the defending tournament champion Connecticut. 

Game 1

6:50 pm TBS

(1) Kentucky Wildcats vs (16) Western Kentucky Hilltoppers

Announcers: Verne Lundquist and Bill Raftery, with Lesley Visser

Spread check: Kentucky -25

Kentucky Wildcats 32-2

Seed: 1

How they got here: SEC at large

Ken Pom Offense: 2

Ken Pom Defense: 6

Top 4 Scorers

  1. Anthony Davis 14.3
  2. Doron Lamb 13.2
  3. Terrence Jones 12.5
  4. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist 11.8

Top 4 Rebounders

  1. Anthony Davis 10
  2. Michael Kidd- Gilchrist 7.6
  3. Terrence JOnes 7
  4. Doron Lamb 2.8

Top 3 Assists

  1. Marquis Teague 162
  2. Darius Miller 73
  3. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist 68

Top 3 Turnovers

  1. Marquis Teague 94
  2. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist 73
  3. Terrence Jones 55

Top 3 Steals

  1. Anthony Davis 47
  2. Terrence Jones 41
  3. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist 39

Top 3 Blocks

  1. Anthony Davis 157
  2. Terrence Jones 58
  3. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist 35

Top 3 Possession %

  1. Terrence Jones 23
  2. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist 21.5
  3. Marquis Teague 20.8

Top 3 Effective FG % 

  1. Anthony Davis 64.7
  2. Doron Lamb 56.2
  3. Darius Miller 55.3

Top 3 Offensive Rating

  1. Anthony Davis 135.7
  2. Doron Lamb 128.9
  3. Kyle Wiltjer 114.7

Top 3 Offensive Rebound %

  1. Anthony Davis 11.7
  2. Terrence Jones 10.9
  3. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist 10.4

Top 3 Defensive Rebound %

  1. Anthony Davis 23
  2. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist 16.4
  3. Terrence Jones 15.8

Kentucky started off the season with high expectations. They lived up to them with a neutral court win against Kansas the second game of the season. Kentucky rolled through their next 5 opponents before the biggest regular season game of the year against North Carolina. Kentucky never led from the 15 minute mark of the first half until the 7:32 mark of the second, trailing by as much as 8. UK led by as much as 5, but were up 1 with 7 seconds to go. That’s when Anthony Davis blocked John Henson’s shot to seal the UK victory. Kentucky’s joy didn’t last long. They took on rival Indiana in Assembly Hall. The Wildcats trailed by as much as 10 with 9 minutes left. They rallied and took the lead late on a Marquis Teague layup. We all know that game ended. Kentucky put 4 more teams away by large margins before playing Louisville. A late Cardinal rally made the score look respectable, but Kentucky pretty much dominated. They started conference play with a couple of 15 point wins before a hard fought game at Tennessee. After beating pants off Arkansas, Kentucky pulled out a win over a game Alabama team. UK played another tough game at Georgia before winning by 13, then dominated LSU, Tennessee, South Carolina and Florida. Kentucky pulled off a late win at Vanderbilt before sweeping the Mississippi schools. Kentucky held on against Vandy in the rematch and dominated Florida for the second time to close the regular season. Kentucky didn’t play well in the SEC tournament. They couldn’t put LSU away until late. They held off a game Florida team, but ultimately couldn’t come back against Vanderbilt as they took their second loss. 

 

Western Kentucky Hilltoppers 16-18

Seed: 16

How they got here: Sun Belt Tournament Champions, beat Mississippi Valley St 59-58 in play in game

Ken Pom Offense: 233

Ken Pom Defense: 151

Top 4 Scorers

  1. Derrick Gordon 11.8
  2. George Fant 10.3
  3. Jamal Crook 8.6
  4. TJ Price 8.6

Top 4 Rebounders

  1. Derrick Gordon 6.8
  2. George Fant 6.1
  3. TJ Price 4.3
  4. Teen Akol 3.5

Top 3 Assists

  1. Jamal Crook 92
  2. Derrick Gordon 72
  3. TJ Price 54

Top 3 Turnovers

  1. Derrick Gordon 97
  2. Jamal Crook 79
  3. TJ Price 68

Top 3 Steals

  1. Jamal Crook 36
  2. TJ Price 27
  3. George Fant/Derrick Gordon 26

Top 3 Blocks

  1. Teeng Akol 44
  2. George Fant 37
  3. Vinny Zolo 16

Top 3 Possession %

  1. Derrick Gordon 22.9
  2. Jamal Crook 22.9
  3. George Fant 22.2

Top 3 Effective FG % 

  1. Kevin Kaspar 48.4
  2. Vinny Zollo 48.3
  3. George Fant 47.9

Top 3 Offensive Rating

  1. George Fant 100.1
  2. Kahlil McDonald 98.4
  3. Teeng Akol 98

Top 3 Offensive Rebound %

  1. George Fant 11.4
  2. Vinny Zollo 9
  3. Teeng akol 7.3

Top 3 Defensive Rebound %

  1. Derrick Gordon 16.9
  2. Teeng Akol 15.5
  3. George Fant 14.5

Western Kentucky was in a rebuilding year this season. They only had a win over Tennessee St in their first 6. They won 3 of the next 4, the only loss coming in a hard fought game against Murray St. Western lost game to IUPUI and Furman before giving Louisville all they could handle for 35 minutes before losing by 10. They closed 2011 with a win over ULM. Back to back losses to open 2012 saw head coach Ken McDonald fired. The Tops dropped 3 more after that before beating Arkansas-Little Rock. That started another 3 of 4 spurt. That was followed by a 3 of 4 spurt the losing way. It was after the 4th loss that Ray Harper was officially named Western Kentucky head coach. The team close the regular season with a win over Arkansas St and an upset over Middle Tennessee. The Tops carried that luck into the Sun Belt tournament. They pulled out 4 wins in 4 days by no more than 5 in becoming the unlikely Sun Belt champions. Last night, they fell down 16 points to Mississippi Valley St with 5 minutes left. They went on a 15-0 run the next 2:32 to get within 1. They couldn’t get over the hump just then, but they tied the score at 54 on a put back. Western took the lead on a TJ Price and 1 with 33 second left. They hit a couple of free throws to secure a win in a furious comeback. 

 

How they stack up based on conference numbers

Western Kentucky plays a much faster pace than their in state counterparts. They go at 69 possessions, UK at 62. Kentucky makes up for that by being extremely efficient. They score 1.2 points per possession while giving up 0.94. Western Kentucky scored 0.99 and gave up 1. Western was the worst shooting team in the Sun Belt, 40.2%, Kentucky was the best in the SEC at 49.4%. Kentucky held opponents to 38.2% shooting. Both teams are good at the foul line, Kentucky 74%, WKU 75%. Kentucky got to the line at the highest rate in the SEC and let opponents get there the lowest. Kentucky shot the 2nd fewest 3s in the league, 230, but hit 95 of them for 41.3%. Kentucky gave up 270 attempts, opponents made 32%. Western Kentucky was the worst 3 point shooting team in the Sun Belt. The Wildcats were the 2nd best offensive rebounding team by percentage in the SEC, getting 36.6%. Defensively they were kind of in the middle of the pack at 68.4%. Western was in the middle of their league. Kentucky doesn’t play turnover basketball. They turned it over 15.1% of the time and forced turnovers 16.4%. They blocked shots on 15% of possessions. Western got their shots blocked at the 5th highest rate in the Sun Belt. 

 

Game 2

Approx 9:20 pm TNT

(8) Iowa State Cyclones vs (9) Connecticut Huskies

Spread check: Connecticut -1.5 

Iowa State Cyclones 22-10

Seed: 8

How they got here: Big 12 at large

Ken Pom Offense: 29

Ken Pom Defense: 49

Top 4 Scorers

  1. Royce White 13.1
  2. Scott Christopherson 12.5
  3. Chris Allen 11.8
  4. Melvin Ejim 9.4

Top 4 Rebounders

  1. Royce White 9.2
  2. Melvin Ejim 6.6
  3. Chris Babb 4.1
  4. Tyrus McGee 3.4

Top 3 Assists

  1. Royce White 164
  2. Chris Allen 77
  3. Scott Christopherson 74

Top 3 Turnovers

  1. Royce White 126
  2. Chris Allen 68
  3. Scott Christopherson 62

Top 3 Steals

  1. Royce White 37
  2. Chris Babb 34
  3. Melvin Ejim 32

Top 3 Blocks

  1. Royce White 30
  2. Anthony Booker 16
  3. Percy Gibson 14

Top 3 Possession %

  1. Royce White 29.4
  2. Chris Allen 22.5
  3. Melvin Ejim 21.2

Top 3 Effective FG % 

  1. Percy Gibson 65.1
  2. Tyrus McGee 57.1
  3. Anthony Booker 56.9

Top 3 Offensive Rating

  1. Tyrus McGee 126.6
  2. Percy Gibson 116.7
  3. Scott Christopherson/Chris Babb 112.5

Top 3 Offensive Rebound %

  1. Melvin Ejim 11.6
  2. Anthony Booker 10.4
  3. Royce White 9.8

Top 3 Defensive Rebound %

  1. Royce White 24
  2. Melvin Ejim 21.2
  3. Anthony Booker 17.4

With a team of transfers, Fred Hoiberg’s squad got off to a tough start. They lost their second game of the season to Drake. After a 4 game win strea against lesser foes, they lost back to back games against Northern Iowa and Michigan. Slowly the Cyclones came together. They ripped off 5 wins to close out the non-conference slate, including a win over Iowa. They opened conference play, and some eyes, with a win over Texas and a 24 point win over Texas A&M. The Cyclones went down valiantly to Missouri and Kansas. They bounced back with some Hilton Magic on a Scott Christopherson 3 at the buzzer to beat Oklahoma State. That was followed with a dominant win over Texas Tech. The Clones lost the rematch against Texas, but got revenge at home against Kansas in a 72-64. That was followed with a home win over Kansas State by 2 on a Royce White bucket with 2 seconds left. That capped a double digit second half comeback. A win over OU was next, but the 3 game streak ended with a loss to Oklahoma State. The next 4 games were decided by double digits, 23 point win over Texas A&M, 15 point loss to Baylor, 11 point win over OU and 18 point win over Texas Tech. The Cyclones took the 2 game win streak into Bramiage Coliseum and used the momentum to sweep Kansas State. Iowa State closed the regular season in big fashion by knocking off Baylor for their 2nd win over a top 10 win at home. Iowa State’s Big 12 tournament didn’t last long, as they lost to Texas on day 1. 

 

Connecticut Huskies 20-13

Seed: 9

How they got here: Big East at large

Ken Pom Offense: 40

Ken Pom Defense: 56

Top 4 Scorers

  1. Jeremy Lamb 17.7
  2. Shabazz Napier 12.3
  3. Ryan Boatright 10.5
  4. Andre Drummond 10.2

Top 4 Rebounders

  1. Andre Drummond 7.7
  2. Jeremy Lamb 4.9
  3. Alex Oriakhi 4.8
  4. Tyler Olander 4

Top 3 Assists

  1. Shabazz Napier 192
  2. Ryan Boatright 99
  3. Jeremy Lamb 58

Top 3 Turnovers

  1. Shabazz Napier 93
  2. Jeremy Lamb 66
  3. Ryan Boatright 55

Top 3 Steals

  1. Shabazz Napier 55
  2. Jeremy Lamb 40
  3. Ryan Boatright 28

Top 3 Blocks

  1. Andre Drummond 88
  2. Alex Oriakhi 44
  3. Jeremy Lamb 21

Top 3 Possession %

  1. Shabazz Napier 23.5
  2. Jeremy Lamb 22.1
  3. Ryan Boatright 21.6

Top 3 Effective FG % 

  1. Jeremy Lamb 55.9
  2. Andre Drummond 54.1
  3. Niels Giffey 51.8

Top 3 Offensive Rating

  1. Jeremy Lamb 116.1
  2. Niels Giffey 111.7
  3. Shabazz Napier 106.6

Top 3 Offensive Rebound %

  1. Andre Drummond 14.6
  2. Alex Oriahkhi 9.7
  3. Tyler Olander 9.3

Top 3 Defensive Rebound %

  1. Andre Drummond 15.4
  2. Alex Oriakhi 15
  3. Tyler Olander 14.8

Connecticut came into the season highly regarded. They didn’t play very well to start the season, looking unimpressive in their first 5 wins. That bit them when they lost to UCF in the Bahamas. That was followed by a nice win over Florida State to finish 3rd in that tournament. UConn closed the non-conference season with some nice wins over Arkansas and Harvard. They opened up Big East play with a close win over USF and a blowout of St John’s. UConn went on the road to Seton Hall and Rutgers, getting swept in the process. The Huskies bounced back with nice wins over West Virginia and by 14 at Notre Dame. A furious rally against Cincinnati fell short when Sean Kilpatrick drilled a 3 that started a 4 game losing streak. Losses to Tennessee by 3, Notre Dame by 2 were capped by a 14 point domination at Georgetown. The losing streak was broken with a dominating win over Seton Hall by 23, but that was followed with their worst game of the season in a 80-59 rout at Louisville. UConn played Syracuse tough in the Carrier Dome, but got pounded on late, losing by 18. UConn got a win over DePaul before getting routed by Marquette. Shabazz Napier hit a 30 foot 3 in overtime to push UConn past Villanova. A Syracuse rematch awaited. UConn gave the Cuse all they could handle, but ultimately fell short by 2. UConn looked like they were righting the ship at Providence, but went from being up 10 with 10:20 to go to down 8 with a minute to go. UConn ended the regular season with a win over Pittsburgh. They were the 9 seed in the Big East tournament. The Huskies handled DePaul day 1. On day 2, they took West Virginia to overtime before knocking them off by 4. UConn played Syracuse a third time. For the third time, they played them very well. For the third time, they lost. 

 

How they stack up based on conference numbers

Iowa State was one of the faster paced teams at 67 possessions a game. UConn was one of the slower teams in the Big East at 64 possessions. ISU scored 1.07 ppp and gave up 0.99. UConn scored and gave up 1.02. ISU was one of the better shooting teams in the B12, hitting 44.5% on FG, 52.6% on eFG and 55% on true shooting. UConn was in the upper half of the Big East at 43.6%, 47.8% and 51%. Iowa State gave up 44.6% shooting, but that was mainly from 2. When you hit effective FG%, it dropped to 49.1 and 51.7% for true. UConn was better defensively number wise at 40.2, 46.3 and 49.8. UConn is a better foul shooting team, even though they are only at 68%. Iowa State shot just 65.4% at the stripe. They didn’t get there very much either. Neither team gives up a lot of FTs, ISU 25.8 rate, UConn 27.1. 3s will be a big factor. Iowa State chucked 426, made 164 for 38.5%. All of those numbers led the Big 12. UConn gave up the 2nd most 3 attempts in the league, opponents hit 34.4%. UConn hit only 29% of their 3s, which fits right in with Iowa State, who had opponents make only 29.8% of theirs. Iowa State wasn’t a great offensive rebounding team, 30.4%, but were the best defensive rebounding team in the Big 12 at 74.4%. UConn got 35.1% of offensive rebounds and 65.6% of defensive. Neither team turned it over a lot, 18.1% ISU, 18.9% UConn. Neither team forces many either, 17.8% ISU, 17% UConn. One area that could be a difference are blocked shots. Iowa State got shots blocked on 6.9% of possessions, UConn blocked shots on 10.4%. 

Scott

About Scott

I write Bearcats Blog and also on the Student Section.

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