UK v. Louisville — a statistical look

Almost as soon as the formality that was the Coppin State game ended, everyone involved with UK started looking ahead to Friday’s matchup against Louisville. So, to start things off, let’s take a look at some statistical comparisons between the two teams.

Shooting: Both teams have been lighting it up over Christmas break. UK, and Doron Lamb, had a torrid night against Winthrop, shooting 10-for-14 from three in the first half, with Lamb missing one shot the entire game. The Cats shot 74 percent in the second half against Coppin State. Louisville has also been on a hot streak, hitting 16 of 30 threes against WKU and 8 of 17 against Morgan State. On the year, though, both teams are pretty even in terms of shooting:

Kentucky Louisville
Points 80.5 83.8
Points per possession 1.15 1.16
Field Goal % 46.4 % 48.1 %
3 pt FG % 41.2 % 37.5 %
Effective FG % 53.3 % 56 %
Assists/turns (per game) 13.3/11 18.8/14.1
Free throw rate 40.5 37.1
Free throw % 68.7 % 65.9 %

Rebounding: Neither team has seen their front court earn rave reviews, so the battle down low could swing drastically one way or the other. A lot was made of UK’s presumed inability to rebound, but the numbers indicate they have been crashing the boards. John Calipari always seems to bring up “tough rebounding” 5.4 times per press conference, and not just regarding centers Josh Harrellson and Eloy Vargas. He wants Terrence Jones (especially Jones), DeAndre Liggins and Darius Miller to all be chasing down rebounds. And when Doron Lamb grabbed five against Coppin State, he earned praise from his coach. As seen below, UK is slighty better at cleaning up defensive rebounds, and Louisville is slightly better at getting its own missed shots. Should be an interesting battle on the boards.

Kentucky Louisville
Rebounds 41.2 39.6
Rebound % 53.9 52.4
Offensive rebound % 35.4 36.7
Defensive rebound % 72.5 68.1

Defense: It will be interesting to see what each coach throws at the other team, if either decides to mix it up to throw their rival off balance. UK went with a zone that was alternatingly a 3-2 and a 2-3 against Coppin State, something Calipari said the Cats might use against Louisville to slow the game down. He referenced Drexel, who slowed the game down in handing U of L a 52-46 loss, its only defeat of the year. Louisville has been pressing more often, but still uses zone and man defense in half court enough.

Kentucky Louisville
Defense FG % 37.8 37.3
Points per possession 0.9 0.84
Opponent rebounds 33.9 35.2
Blocks 6.6 6.2
Steals 5.7 10.7
Fouls per game 16.3 20.5

Four Factors: The four factors to winning are a statistical look at the four most important factors to winning, as proven by someone much more adept at handling equations than I am. Anyway, effective field goal percentage (which is a measure of field goal percentage that weights three-point shooting more, since threes count for more points than twos, naturally) is the most important. Turnover percentage is the number of turnovers COMMITTED, not forced, per 100 possessions. As seen, UK takes care of the ball, but they also don’t force many turnovers. Offensive rebounding percentage is the percentage of shots a team rebounds on missed shots, which gets the team important second chances. Finally, free throw rate is the rate at which a team gets to the free throw line. For all the talk about free throw shooting, a team has to get there enough to make a difference in order to even attempt to make a free throw.


College Basketball Stats

Final edge: Who knows. Louisville has a brand new home court that you know will be rocking, it’s a rivalry game so (apparently) you can throw everything out the window anyway — at least that’s the myth. And I’m terrible at predictions. But I do know this — I’m ready for it, and I think everyone involved is, too.