The Game: Part 2

Thanks to the gracious effort of the NCAA Tournament Committee (and a couple of wins by each team), Louisville and Kentucky get a 2nd meeting this season in the Sweet 16. Fans of each team can find plenty of in-depth analysis for each team in this section. Before the game, we'll look back at the December matchup and see what we can learn. We'll also look at how UK and UofL lineups have played this season, focusing on performance against NCAA tournament teams. Lastly, we'll try to identify some keys to the game, and pick out lineups and players who could be crucial to victory for each side. 

Post-Game Review

The 2nd Kentucky-Louisville game had many different elements from the 1st one this season, but the outcome remained the same...a Kentucky victory. What does the lineup data from the game tell us about what happened? Were any of our predictions especially good? Especially bad? Let's take a look...

 

For Kentucky:

 

In a switch from the first meeting, the UK lineup who allowed the opponents to shoot the most free throws actually had the best +/-, as UofL went 4-9 from the line against the UK lineup of Andrew Harrison/Aaron Harrison/Hawkins/Randle/Johnson. However, turnovers were a big key as UK lineups who outscored UofL committed 2 in 21 possession, while all other lineups committed 10 in 43 possessions. The 3 worst lineups for UK from a +/- perspective were the only lineups to have threes made against them, so UK was able to pull ahead as long as they contained UofL's three point shooting. UK was also able to capitalize on UofL turnovers, forcing them 20% of the time when they outscored Louisville but only 14% when getting outscored. 

 

Two lineups did the majority of the damage for UK, as the Harrisons/Hawkins/Randle/Johnson lineup and Harrisons/Poythress/Randle/Johnson lineup both put up a +8, although it took 11 possessions for the former and only 5 for the latter to get there. For Hawkins, this was only the 5th game all year where UK had a better +/- with him than with him on the bench (although the subsequent Michigan game became the 6th). Unfortunately, the two lineups I identified as keys barely played; the Harrisons/Young/Poythress/Cauley-Stein lineup did not play due to WCS' injury, and Harrisons/Young/Poythress/Randle saw 4 possessions together and were outscored by 1 point. Willie Cauley-Stein's injury prevented him from having the impact I thought he would have.

 

Dakari Johnson again had success at +12 in 48 possessions, with Aaron Harrison putting up a +10 in 58. Cauley-Stein had the worst +/- at -10 in 7 possessions, owing to the UofL run at the beginning of the game and his injury.

 

 

For Louisville:

 

Again, 3 point shooting proved to be a key to Louisville playing well. 3 lineups combined to shoot 4 for 6 on threes, and they were a combined +16 in 21 possessions. The rest of Louisville's lineups went 0 for 9, and were -21 in 42 possessions. Once again, allowing free throws wasnt a big problem; both successful and unsuccessful lineups allowed UK to shoot a lot of free throws. Turnovers, forced turnovers, rebounding...all were fairly consistent regardless of the overall scoring margin of a lineup. Hitting threes was the key for this Louisville team against Kentucky this year.

 

2 lineups stood out in this game for their positive contributions. Jones/Smith/Hancock/Mathiang/Harrell outscored UK by 8 points in 7 possessions, and Smith/Rozier/Blackshear/Harrell/Mathiang outscored Uk by 5 points in 4 possessions. No lineup had a +/- worse than -4 for Louisville, but more were outscored than were able to outscore Kentucky. Interestingly, the star lineup from last game, Jones/Smith/Blackshear/Harrell/Mathiang, played together for about 25 seconds in this game. Last game they started but never appeared together after the first substitution. 

 

Looking at our predictions for the game, our key lineup of Jones/Smith/Blackshear/Harrell/Van treese didn't embarass themselves, outscoring UK by +1 point in 5 possessions, but didn't get enough time to really make a big difference. Luke Hancock did play extremely well, but his -3 in 39 possessions indicated it wasn't quite enough to give UofL a cushion. Fans of this site will recognize the Rozier/Smith/Blackshear/Harrell/Mathiang lineup that was +5 in 4 possession as UofL's best +/- lineup per possession by a wide margin this year.

Lessons from the First Meeting

Lineup data from one single game isn't all that useful when trying to learn something about a lineup's ability to outscore an opponent; the variability between games is just too large. However, we'll have some fun here and look at the first UofL/UK game to see if there are any patterns we should be thinking about before their 2nd meeting. Let's see what lineup and plus/minus stats said about each team:

 

For Kentucky:

The Wildcats played their best when Alex Poythress (+20), Dakari Johnson (+15), or James Young (+9) was in the game. Johnson put up his +15 in only 15 possessions of playing time, an incredible performance. Julius Randle struggled to a -9 in the game. 

 

Kentucky's starters really struggled; they played 19 possessions together and were outscored by 14 points. However, Alex Poythress stepped up in place of Julius Randle in the 2nd half, and the other 4 starters with him outscored Louisville by 10 points in 14 possessions. "Big" lineups with Poythress at SF outscored UofL by 8 points in 12 minutes of playing time. Julius Randle struggled without Poythress in the game, putting up a -13 in 32 possessions.

 

The key for UK appeared to be not allowing free throws; of the 7 lineups that outscored UofL, 5 did not allow a free throw. None of the 4 lineups who were outscored achieved this. The lineups who performed the best also won the turnover battle (committing fewer than they forced). For the rematch, UK should do well when they are able to avoid fouling and do well with turnovers.

  

For Louisville:

 

This was Chane Behanan's last game with Louisville. Only Behanan and Mangok Mathiang (both +1) saw Louisville outscore Kentucky when they were in the game. Stephan Van Treese (-10) and Terry Rozier (-9) has the worst plus/minus ratings for the game, although there was plenty of blame to go around. Notably, this was Wayne Blackshear's first game with a negative plus/minus.

 

Louisville did not play any single lineup for 10 possessions this game for the first time all season. The only lineup to outscore UK by more than 2 points was Jones/Smith/Blackshear/Harrell/Mathiang, who outscored UK by 8 points in the first 3.5 minutes of the game. They did not play together at all for the rest of the game, however. The lineup of Smith/Rozier/Hancock/Behanan/Van Treese somehow got outscored by 7 points in only 4 possessions...they were the worst of many offenders on the night.

 

Hitting three pointers seemed to be the key for Louisville in this game; lineups that outscored UK went 4-8 but all others were 2-19. Allowing free throws didn't seem to doom them; they allowed free throws about as often when they outscored UK as when UK outscored them. Lineups that have had success all year hitting three pointers should be able to have success against Kentucky.

 

 

Vs. NCAA Tournament Teams

Both teams have had several games against NCAA Tournament teams this season. Kentucky has played Michigan State, Providence, Baylor, UNC, Louisville, Tennessee, Florida, Kansas State, and Wichita State. Louisville has gone up against UNC, Kentucky, Memphis, UConn, Cincinnati, Manhattan, and St. Louis. How has each team performed against this hgih-level opposition?

 

Against NCAA teams, UK has put up the following stats (compared to season avg in parentheses):

 

49.9% eFG% (season avg 49.8%)

49.4% eFG% Allowed (45.4%)

Turnovers on 20.2% of UK possessions (18.3%)

Turnovers on 15.5% of Opponent possessions (16.2%)

Drawn fouls on 34.5% of possessions (34.1%)

Committed fouls on 30.0% of possessions (28.6%)

+0.20 pts/poss better than average (+0.23)

 

As expected, most of their stats are worse against stronger competition. UK doesn't have much problem with shooting or drawing free throws against better teams; however, they have trouble on defense and with turnovers. 

 

Louisville has put up the following against NCAA teams (season avg in parentheses):

 

46.7% eFG% (season avg 53.6%)

47.4% eFG% allowed (43.8%)

Turnovers on 18.8% of possessions (15.3%)

Forced turnovers on 22.4% of possessions (25.2%)

Drawn fouls on 28.3% of possessions (30.0%)

Committed fouls on 30.9% of possessions (29.1%)

+0.19 pts/poss better than average (+0.35)

 

Louisville's adjusted plus/minus drops off considerably when looking just at games vs NCAA teams. This is reflective of the fact that they have several blowouts against non-tourney teams, but mostly close games against NCAA opposition. All of their stats have gotten a little worse vs better opposition.

 

Adjusted plus/minus per possession is a fair measure of team quality, as it adjusts for opponent strength. It shouldn't drop off much as opponents get tougher, unless a team's performance legitimately falls off. Louisville's drop in adjusted plus/minus is troubling, as a drop from +0.35 to +0.19 is equivalent to ~ 11 pts/game. Most troubling, this includes the 33 pt win vs UConn...the rating would drop even further without that game. This indicates that this may be a closer game than one would guess from looking at season-long stats (which favor UofL considerably).

 

Keys to the Game

During the first UofL/UK game this year, UK's most sucessful lineups tended to win the turnover battle and limit free throws allowed, while UofL's most successful lineups tended to hit three pointers. It's likely that each team will need lineups that play to their strengths and limit their weaknesses. How do some of the common lineups for Kentucky and Louisville do at these key factors?

 

For Kentucky:

 

Kentucky has a couple of lineups that have done well at limiting turnovers and limiting free throws. The lineup of Aaron + Andrew Harrison, James Young, Alex Poythress, and Willie Cauley-Stein has turned the ball over only 19% of the time against NCAA teams, while forcing turnovers 25% of the time. They also have allowed opponent to shoot only 27% on three-pointers, and had a below-average foul rate.

 

A lineup of the Harrisons, Young, Poythress and Randle has allowed only 14% shooting from 3 this year, and committed turnovers only 15% of the time. However, that lineup has played very little in the last 2 months, and isn't likely to see much time on Friday.

 

As far as players go, Willie Cauley-Stein should be an X factor for Kentucky. He has a fairly low foul rate for a big man (much lower than Dakari Johnson), and both creates opposing turnovers and limits his own. If he has a strong game, that will go a long way to helping Kentucky.

 

For Louisville:

 

Louisville needs a lineup that shoots three pointers well, draws fouls, and forces turnovers...of course, so does every team in the country! A lineup that checks all those boxes would be an excellent matchup to go against a Kentucky team that has some distinct strengths and weaknesses. The best option for Louisville, looking at season-long data, would be Russ Smith, Chris Jones, Wayne Blackshear, Montrezl Harrell, and Stephen Van Treese. This group forced turnovers at a 34% rate, and hit a respectable 38% from three point range. However, Louisville doesn't have many lineups that draw fouls at a high rate...they will need Russ Smith and Luke Hancock to be active drawing fouls. Chane Behanan's absence hurts a little here, as he was UofL's free throw magnet in the post, and was effective against UK.

 

Louisville's X factor is likely to be Luke Hancock. He is capable of drawing fouls, especially if matched against Alex Poythress (who is fairly foul-prone). UofL needs him to play well if they are going to win.

The Game: Part 1

Post Game Review

Now that the annual UK vs UofL battle is behind us, I'll take a little time to review what players and lineups stood out for each team. Normally I don't look at just one game of data, but it's an interesting game and I thought I'd indulge it just this once. I'd take everything here with a grain of salt, and rely more on the season-long data, but sometimes it's fun to indulge in narratives.

 

For Kentucky:

The Wildcats played their best when Alex Poythress (+20), Dakari Johnson (+15), or James Young (+9) was in the game. Johnson put up his +15 in only 15 possessions of playing time, an incredible performance. Julius Randle struggled to a -9 in the game. 

 

Kentucky's starters really struggled; they played 19 possessions together and were outscored by 14 points. However, Alex Poythress stepped up in place of Julius Randle in the 2nd half, and the other 4 starters with him outscored Louisville by 10 points in 14 possessions. "Big" lineups with Poythress at SF outscored UofL by 8 points in 12 minutes of playing time. Julius Randle struggled without Poythress in the game, putting up a -13 in 32 possessions.

 

The key for UK appeared to be not allowing free throws; of the 7 lineups that outscored UofL, 5 did not allow a free throw. None of the 4 lineups who were outscored achieved this. Most of the lineups who outscored Louisville also were able to force turnovers fairly often, which is not typical for Kentucky this year.

 

For Louisville:

 

Only Chane Behanan and Mangok Mathiang (both +1) saw Louisville outscore Kentucky when they were in the game. Stephan Van Treese (-10) and Terry Rozier (-9) has the worst plus/minus ratings for the game, although there was plenty of blame to go around. Notably, this was Wayne Blackshear's first game with a negative plus/minus.

 

Louisville did not play any single lineup for 10 possessions this game for the first time all season. The only lineup to outscore UK by more than 2 points was Jones/Smith/Blackshear/Harrell/Mathiang, who outscored UK by 8 points in the first 3.5 minutes of the game. They did not play together at all for the rest of the game, however. The lineup of Smith/Rozier/Hancock/Behanan/Van Treese somehow got outscored by 7 points in only 4 possessions...they were the worst of many offenders on the night.

 

Hitting three pointers seemed to be the key for Louisville in this game; lineups that outscored UK went 4-8 but all others were 2-19. Allowing free throws didn't seem to doom them; they allowed free throws about as often when they outscored UK as when UK outscored them. 

Keys to the Game & Prediction

Louisville and Kentucky are both excellent college basketball teams; each is among the very best teams in the country in several facets of the game, and both have very few weaknesses. Let's take a look at specific strengths and weaknesses for each team:

 

(all stats/rankings are per KenPom.com...if you don't have a subscription and you're reading my site, you really should get one)

 

Louisville

Elite (top 25 in country) at:

Limited their own turnovers

Forcing opponent turnovers

Offensive rebounding

Avoiding blocked shots

Avoiding steals

Stealing from opponents

 

Good (25-100 in country) at:

Limiting free throw attempts

Making 2 point shots

Defending opponent 2 point shots

Blocking shots

 

Average or worse (below 101 in country) at:

Defensive rebounding

Drawing free throws

Hitting 3 pointers

Defending 3 pointers

Hitting free throws

 

Kentucky

Elite at:

Offensive rebounding

Drawing free throws

Making 2 points shots

Defending opponent 2 point shots

Avoiding blocked shots

Blocking opponent shots

 

Good at:

Limiting free throw attempts

Defending 3 pointers

 

Average or worse at:

Limiting their own turnovers

Forcing opponent turnovers

Defensive rebounding

Hitting 3 pointers

Hitting free throws

Avoiding steals

Stealing from opponents

 

Louisville is probably going to win the turnover battle, while Kentucky will likely get to the line more often and make it harder for Louisville to score in the halfcourt. The balance between Louisville's generating easy scores off of turnovers and Kentucky's ability to be more efficient offensively when not turning the ball over is likely going to decide the game. Look for these lineups to be key...if they get big minutes, they should provide an advantage.

 

For Louisville:

Smith/Rozier/Hancock/Behanan/Van Treese

Jones/Smith/Hancock/Harrell/Van Treese

Despite forcing a relatively low % of opponent turnovers, these lineups have scored very well. They have reasonably low foul rates as well, so they shouldn't give up too many free throws.

 

For Kentucky:

An. Harrison/Young/Poythress/Randle/Johnson

Aa. Harrison/Young/Poythress/Randle/Johnson

These lineups turn the ball over, but they still manage to score well. They dominate the offensive glass to keep creating scoring chances.

 

Some less heralded players could help in this game by being effective even though they don't play to the typical strengths of their team. Hancock and Van Treese for Louisville, and Poythress and Johnson for Kentucky, would be my X factors for the game. Given that Louisville has done a slightly better job of playing their stronger lineups this season, I'd be inclined to favor Louisville...but I do think Kentucky  has the advantage rebounding and drawing free throws. If you've read my analysis below of the last 2 years of UK/UL games, you'd see this has proven to be a key to victory. I'll predict UK 74, UL 73 in a back-and-forth game throughout. Please address your complaints to @CardsCatsStats on Twitter :)


Previous UL/UK Games

Dec 31, 2011: UK 69, UL 62

Mar 31, 2012: UK 69, 61

2 very similar results as UK and UL met in the regular season and the Final Four.  Jared Swopshire was very effective in limited minutes for the Cardinals, as Louisville outscored UK by +0.20 points per possession when he was in the game. The only other Louisville player with a positive +/- during these 2 games was Russ Smith; every other player saw Louisville outscored. However, both Gorgui Dieng and Wayne Blackshear helped Louisville to a better scoring margin per possession when they were in the game than when they were on the bench (even though Louisville was outscored both when they were in the game and on the bench). There weren't really any patterns to UofL's productive lineups; only 4 lineups were able to outscore UK by more than 2 points, and 1 of them only because Russ Smith scored 8 points in the final 15 seconds.

 

Kentucky played a tigher rotation, as the vast majority of playing time went to the core 6 players. The best on/off court differentials belonged to Marquis Teague and Anthony Davis; Doron Lamb and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist also had positive contributions. Terrence Jones and Darius Miller had highly negative on/off court differentials, however; Kentucky's largest leads were built with Terrence Jones on the bench.

 

In these 2 games, UK's most successul lineups were able to control the defensive glass and draw more free throws than UofL.

 

Below are the on/off court +/- differentials for each team for the 2 games in the 2011-12 season.

 

UofL on/off court differentials for the 2 games vs UK in the 2011-12 season
UK on/off court differentials for the 2 games vs UofL in the 2011-12 season

Dec 29, 2012: UofL 80, UK 77

Peyton Siva, Russ Smith, and Chane Behanan carried the Cards to victory by combining for 60 points. They also were the only 3 Cards who posted a positive on/off court +/- impact; their positive ratings absolutely dominated the game. In fact, every single lineup that had a positive +/- had Russ Smith and Chane Behanan in it, and only 2 of the 9 lineups with Peyton Siva had negative +/-.  Both Kevin Ware and Luke Hancock saw Louisville's scoring margin drop considerably when they were in the game; they especially hurt Louisville's defense, as their points allowed per possession skyrocketed when these two were in the game.

 

Only 2 Kentucky players had a positive +/- in this game; Kyle Wiltjer posted a +5 and Willie Cauley-Stein posted a +7. In addition to these 2, Kentucky did have a better margin when Julius Mays was in the game than when he was on the bench, but his +/- was a 0. On the downsize, UK was much worse with Nerlens Noel and Alex Poythress in the game than when they were on the bench; it seems as though UK really needed as much scoring as they could get, and Wiltjer offered some 3 point shooting. Cauley-Stein in particular was very effective on the offensive glass as well.

 

Similar to 2011-12, the winning team (Louisville in this case) drew more free throws and won the defensive rebounding battle. Louisville's most effective lineups also forced turnovers at high rates.

 

Below are the on/off court +/- differentials for UofL and UK for the 2012-13 season meeting.

UofL on/off court differentials for the 2012-13 game vs UK
UK on/off court differentials for the 2012-13 game vs UofL

The 2013 Game: Key Matchups

Starters

 

Louisville has had a tendency to play lots of lineups during their games, and not rely too heavily on their starters (or any single lineups). Louisville has had 5 different lineups play at least 10 possessions in a game this year, although this is partly due to playing weaker teams and blowing them out. They did rely a little more on key lineups during the UNC game; one lineup played 14 possessions (Smith/Jones/Hancock/Behanan/Harrell) and another played 12 possessions (Smith/Jones/Blackshear/Harrell/Van Treese, the starters for that game). Assuming Louisville starts Smith/Rozier/Blackshear/Harrell/Mathiang, I would expect they would play 12-15 possessions, and a similar lineup with Chris Jones instead of Rozier would also play 12-15 possessions. Behanan, Hancock, and Van Treese will likely also get their typical playing time in a mixture of lineups.

 

Kentucky leans heavily on their starters (An. Harrison/Aa. Harrison/Young/Randle/Cauley-Stein). The only games where they played less than 12 possessions were Northern Kentucky and Robert Morris; they have averaged 20 possessions/game against UK's tougher competition. I would assume UK will play them for about 20 possessions against Louisville.

 

Louisville's likely starting lineup (listed above) has outscored teams by about +1 point per possession; Kentucky's starters only outscore teams by +0.41 points per possession. With Chris Jones in the game, Louisville outscores opponents by about +0.40 points per possession. Louisville would seem to have an advantage in these most heavily used lineups. Louisville's key lineups also force turnovers at a much higher rate than UK's, and avoid turnovers much better. Despite UK's presumed rebounding advantage, their starters actually rebound offensively and defensively at very similar rates to Louisville's starters.

 

Kentucky has gotten off to slow starts in several games; I'd expect more of the same in this game. Assuming Louisville starts Rozier/Smith/Blackshear/Harrell/Mathiang, they should have an early advantage.

 

Bench Lineups

Both teams have played a variety of bench combinations, usually with several starters staying in the game. Kentucky has had more varied results when going to their bench; among their 10 most used bench lineups, 3 have outscored opponents by less than .15 points/possession and 3 have outscored opponents by more than .75 points/possession. Louisville, however, has only 1 of their 10 most used bench lineups which has outscored opponents by less than .15 points/possession, and none that have outscored opponents by more than .67 points/possession.

 

Kentucky has several bench combinations that have distinct strengths and weaknesses. The combination of Alex Poythress and Julius Randle together has rebounded at an astonishing rate; lineups with Marcus Lee have blocked shots and defended the paint very well. Playing Poythress and Dakari Johnson has been a disaster, however, as they have fouled much more often and had their shots blocked more often than any combination.

 

Similarly, Louisville has strengths and weaknesses on their bench. Stephan Van Treese and Chane Behanan have been the best rebounding combination for the Cards, and Louisville has drawn a lot of free throws with Chris Jones or Luke Hancock in the game. However, playing Behanan and Montrezl Harrell in a smaller lineup has not worked well, as they've been foul and turnover prone. Hancock has also struggled from the perimeter, and opponents have gotten to the foul line more often when he's in the game.

 

I expect Kentucky will have several runs when they put some of their more successful bench lineups in the game, especially when Poythress and Randle are teamed. Several of the issues Louisville has had when Hancock is in the game could be big problems against Kentucky, as well. Chris Jones' aggressiveness could be a real key, however, as Andrew Harrison has had foul trouble. Jones' penetration and quickness could lead to more foul trouble for some key Wildcats.

Louisville should get fairly consistent production when they go to their bench, but the mercurial nature of Kentucky's bench lineups could make for a very up and down middle of the game.

 

The Wildcats: the last 5 games

Over the last 5 games, the Wildcats have gone 3-2, with wins over Providence, Boise State, and Belmont and losses to Baylor and North Carolina. Above is a chart showing the on/off court +/- differentials for each of the UK players; you'll notice that this stretch has seen Marcus Lee and Dakari Johnson basically disappear from the regular rotation. Here are a few key talking points about the past few games:

 

1) Only Dominique Hawkins has seen UK's scoring margin drop significantly when he enters the game; conversely, UK has absolutely cratered on offense without Aaron Harrison in the game.

 

2) Foul trouble has limited Andrew Harrison in several games, but UK's scoring margin has not been significantly worse without him. Only Aaron Harrison and Julius Randle's absences have seriously hurt UK's margins.

 

3) The UK offense has been worse with Alex Poythress in the game, but the defense has been much better, and the net effect is that the scoring margin is about the same with him in the game or on the bench. James Young has seen the opposite effect; the offense drops off without him but the defense gets much better. Even with Willie Cauley-Stein's shotblocking heroics, the UK defense has been much better without him in the game over the last 5 games.

 

4) Compared to the full-season numbers, Aaron Harrison's are much stronger over the last 5 games, while Randle, Poythress, and Hawkins' differentials are similar for both stretches and Andrew Harrison, Willie Cauley-Stein, and James Young have much worse differentials in this recent stretch.

 

5) UK has been very strong when Dominique Hawkins is out of the game, putting up their highest points per possession (1.53) and their highest scoring margin per possession. (+0.20).

 

 

Most played lineups:

 

1) An. Harrison/Aa. Harrison/Young/Randle/Cauley-Stein (103 possessions played, outscoring opponents by +0.33 pts per possession, adjusted for opponent strength)

This has been the most-used lineup over the whole season, and nothing has changed over the past 5 games. They're outscoring opponents at a similar rate to the full season, although they've been much worse on the boards as the competition has improved. They've only secured 32% of their own misses and 42% of opponents mises; this was a glaring issue during the Baylor game. They have controlled the turnovers better in the past few games and drawn fouls very effectively, and continue to limit opponents to a poor percentage from the field.

 

2) Aa. Harrison/Hawkins/Young/Randle/Cauley-Stein (35 possessions, +0.27)

This has been the most consistently used bench lineup over the past few games, and is the 2nd most used lineup over the full season. Again, their production over the past 5 games is similar to their full season, as most of their time has come recently. Opponents have shot well against them, but this lineup has lived at the foul line.

 

3) An. Harrison/Aa. Harrison/Young/Poythress/Randle (16 possessions, +0.82)

This lineup had not played significant time before the Baylor game, but has been quite dominant in limited time since that contest. They've snared 71% of their own misses and 64% of opponent misses, and shot free throws 5x as often as opponents. Opponents are only shooting 28% from the field against them, but they have forced turnovers at the lowest rate on the team.

 

Other Notes:

 

-Alex Poythress has a much better impact on the game alongside Julius Randle than when replacing him; with the two of them in UK is +0.35 pts per possession better than opponents, but they are -0.18 pts per possession when Poythress is in without Randle.

 

-Similarly, Dominique Hawkins needs to play alongside Aaron Harrison, not Andrew; when Hawkins is paired with Aaron, UK is +0.29 pts/poss. better than their opponents, but they are -0.18 when Hawkins and Andrew are paired.

The Cardinals: the last 5 games

Note: Data excludes the game vs WKU, for which data was not available. This data is for the Southern Miss game and later; this encompasses the time frame since UofL changed their starting lineup to include Rozier and Mathiang.

 

The on/off court +/- differentials for the Cardinals aren't dramatically different for the last 5 games or for the full season; Chris Jones has been a little worse recently, Russ Smith a little better, Mangok Mathiang is much better and Montrezl Harrell a little worse.H

 

The effects have been more varied when you look at the impact on pts scored/possession and pts allowed/possession. Here are a few talking points:

 

1)Over the full season, UofL has seen their offense drop off most substantially when Chris Jones and Stephan Van Treese leave the game. However, when looking at just the most recent games, Terry Rozier has become a catalyst for the offense, along with Van Treese. 

 

2)On the defensive side of the ball, Wayne Blackshear continues to have an outsized impact. Mangok Mathiang's impact on points allowed has increased, while Luke Hancock and Chane Behanan continue to be defensive liabilities.

 

3)Even after moving to the starting lineup, Terry Rozier still plays fewer possessions than Chris Jones or Russ Smith despite having a more positive effect on scoring margin. In fact, the top 3 in scoring margin are 6th, 8th, and 5th in total possessions played.

 

Most played lineups:

 

1) Smith/Rozier/Blackshear/Harrell/Mathiang (31 possessions, outscoring opponents by +1.16 pts/possession, adjusted for opponent strength)

This lineup had been ridiculously productive before being named the starters, and they've continued that with more playing time. Opponents have not made a single 3 against them, while they hit 70% of their 3's. They've assisted on 75% of their own baskets, and shot free throws 4x as often as opponents. They do have the highest turnover rate among Cardinal lineups, but force turnovers at a high rate and rebound very well. Very few weaknesses here.

 

2) Smith/Rozier/Hancock/Behanan/Van Treese (17 possessions, +0.71)

This lineup has hit 92% of their 2's (not a typo!), which will win you a lot of games. They've also rebounded at an incredible rate, getting 75% of their own (rare) misses and 71% of opponent misses. They are poor at forcing turnovers, however, and send opponents to the foul line more often than they get there themselves.

 

3) Smith/Jones/Blackshear/Mathiang/Harrell (16 possessions, +0.70)

This lineups hasn't hit a 3 yet, but they have rebounded 50% of their own misses. They only get to 55% of opponent misses, but this lineup has blocked 14% of opponent shots. They are the best lineup at taking care of the basketball, as they have turned it over 6% of the time and forced a turnover 32% of the time.

 

Other notes:

 

-Behanan and Harrell have played together for 37 possessions in the last 5 games, but UofL has only been +0.09 pts/poss better than opponents. They've rebounded very well, but shot poorly and struggled to force turnovers. They've also fouled at a higher rate than usual.

 

-Terry Rozier and Russ Smith have been a tremendous backcourt combo, outscoring opponents by +0.81 pts/poss and shooting almost 30% better than the opposition. Rozier + Jones have been less effective, outscoring opponents by +0.46 pts/poss, and losing the advantage in shooting percentage. Smith+Jones have been the least effective of the 3 combos, outscoring opponents by +0.38 pts/poss and sending opponents to the free throw line as often as they draw free throws.

 

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