Thursday, January 20, 2011

University of Connecticut Post Game: Empty Trips

A Game of Runs
Connecticut scored the first 10 points, but Villanova managed to outscore the Huskies 22-11 in the last 16 minutes, taking their first lead of the game with three minutes left in the half. The 'Cats held on to go into the locker room with score 22-21. The score should probably not have been a surprise, afterall the Huskies and Wildcats are two of the better defensive teams in the conference. The Huskies and 'Cats traded the lead back and forth in the second half's first 10 possessions. Then jockeyed with ties and traded leads for another two minutes before a Maalik Wayns jumper put the Wildcats on top, 32-30 in the game's 24th minute. The 'Cats would hold onto a lead for about 10:30 minutes.

The Athletic Department website posted the official boxscore and the AP wire story, "Wildcats Fall Short In Final Seconds...", led off with the game's last play (Kemba Walker in the lane with a floater) and the high scorers (Fisher with 28, Walker with 24), but the headline is misleading; the Wildcats lost this game between the 32 and the 36 minute marks. Walker's conversion simply guaranteed there would be no overtime. The breakdown by halves...

Opponent:University of Connecticut
 Offense Defense
1st2ndGame 1st2ndGame

Green highlighting identifies the good elements of Villanova's game yesterday, while red highlighting identifies elements the are below the levels the team has played to to date. Pace was well below the projected 68 possessions. The low possession rate in the first half was an especially noticible 31 possessions, a rate that would have, had it projected for the entire game, been about 11% off Villanova's adjusted tempo (about 9% lower than Connecticut's). The low pace was surprising given both teams have used higher possession rates in at least 75% of their games through this point in the season.

The first half was a defensive tug-of-war, with an offensive improvement coming in the second half. Though some of Villanov's first halves since Temple produced point per possession totals > 1.00 (Cincinnati, South Florida and Louisville for), all fit the pattern of better second halves shown in Storrs. Except Villanova's offensive efficiency (Rating in table above) was higher than their opponent's efficiency.

Up 4 With 8 Minutes to Go...
Walker's runner in the lane were the last points scored, but going into the game's 32nd minute Villanova held a four point lead. The Wildcats lost the lead during the four minute segment (32:00-36:00) and did not break back on top throught the end of the game. This segment saw Villanova score three points in eight possessions while the Huskies scored nine points in seven possessions...


The contrast is stark. Connecticut scored in five of their seven possessions, shooting 3-5 from the field and 3-4 from the line in those five possessions. They turned over one possession (no FGA) and had a single FGA in their first possession of the sequence. Villanova scored on two of their eight possessions, lost four possessions via turnovers without taking a shot and had two "one-and-done" trips. Critically, while Connecticut prevented shots in half of Villanova's possessions, the 'Cats did not get a single offense rebound in the other four trips. The 'Cats had a single offensive rebound over the course of the game's last eight minutes. Villanova turned up the offense in the game's last four minute segment, scoring 11 points in seven possessions (1.57 ppp), going 3-6 from the field and 4-4 from the line with no turnovers. UConn however, matched Villanova's efficiency, converting possessions into points at a rate identical to Villanova's. The Huskies shot 4-4 from the field and 2-4 from the line.

Villanova dropped it's second game of the season, 16-2, and their first conference game, 4-1. Connecticut's record is 15-2 overall, and 4-2 in conference play.

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