Stats & Info: UNLV Runnin' Rebels

Kentucky looks to change past history

March, 6, 2012
3/06/12
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The Kentucky Wildcats have had a terrific season, but will that translate into a national championship?

The Wildcats finished 16-0 in the SEC. They’re the first power six team since the 2002-03 Kentucky team to finish undefeated in conference play.

Since 1977, of the eight Power Six schools to go undefeated in conference play, the 1995-96 Kentucky Wildcats are the only team to win the national championship.

But this Kentucky team is trying to avoid the same fate as the last three Power Six teams to finish undefeated in conference play. Those three teams –- 1998-99 Duke, 2001-02 Kansas, and 2002-03 Kentucky -- all fell short of a title.

1998-99 Duke Blue Devils
The Blue Devils were, by most accounts, one of the most dominant college basketball teams in recent memory.

A two-point neutral-court loss to Cincinnati in November was their only regular-season loss.

The Blue Devils, led by Elton Brand, Trajan Langdon and Shane Battier, scored at least 80 points in 30 of 33 regular-season games.

They ended the regular season with 27 straight wins and entered the NCAA Tournament with a 32-1 record after finishing 16-0 in the ACC and winning the ACC Tournament.

After winning its first four NCAA Tournament games by an average margin of 30 points, Duke got past Michigan State in the Final Four but lost by three to Connecticut in the championship game

2001-02 Kansas Jayhawks
The Jayhawks, led by Drew Gooden, Nick Collison and Kirk Hinrich, finished the regular season 29-3 overall, 16-0 in the Big 12, after losing to Oklahoma in the Big 12 championship game.

Kansas advanced to the Final Four but lost to Juan Dixon, Steve Blake and the Maryland Terrapins, who went on to win a national title.

2002-03 Kentucky Wildcats
After finishing the regular season 29-3 overall and 16-0 in the SEC, the Wildcats fell short of the Final Four, losing to Dwyane Wade and Marquette in the Elite Eight.

That Kentucky team, led by Keith Bogans, Gerald Fitch and Chuck Hayes, ended the regular season with 23 straight wins after winning the SEC Tournament.

But there’s one huge difference between those three teams and the 2011-12 Wildcats: This Kentucky team went to the Final Four last season. Key players Terrence Jones, Darius Miller and Doron Lamb all have that Final Four experience that the Duke, Kansas, and prior Kentucky teams did not have the previous year.

If the Wildcats win the SEC Tournament, they’ll enter the NCAA Tournament with the same record (33-1) as John Calipari’s 2007-08 Memphis Tigers, who went on to lose in overtime to Kansas in the national championship.

That team’s lone regular-season loss was by four points to Tennessee.

This Calipari team is a Christian Watford buzzer-beater away from being perfect both in and out of league. No team has entered the NCAA Tournament unbeaten since the 1990-91 UNLV Runnin’ Rebels, who lost to Duke in the Final Four.

Those teams we’ve cited all fell short of the ultimate prize. The 2011-12 Kentucky Wildcats hope to avoid the same fate as their predecessors and end the season cutting down the nets in New Orleans.

Wednesday Recap: Nash key in upset win

January, 26, 2012
1/26/12
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Player of the Night - Le'Bryan Nash
Nash scored 13 points during a pivotal 17-4 run late in the second half, as Oklahoma State knocked off No. 2 Missouri, 79-72. The freshman finished with a career-high 27 points. Nash came into this one shooting just 37.8 percent from the field, but hit 12 of 18 shots in the best shooting night of his career. It was the first time since 1957 that an unranked Oklahoma State team defeated the No. 2 team in the nation.

Board Monster - Mike Moser
One of the best rebounders in the nation had the best rebounding game of his career. Moser pulled down 21 rebounds to go with 18 points as UNLV topped Boise State 77-72 in overtime. Moser is the only player with multiple 20-rebound games this season. He fell five shy of Jimmie Baker's school record set in 1973. Moser's 11.7 RPG would be the highest for an UNLV player since Sidney Green's 11.9 in 1982-83.

Youth Is Served – St. John’s
In Wednesday’s 78-62 win over West Virginia, St. John’s featured a starting lineup consisting of five freshmen. It’s believed to be the first time the school has done that since 1927-28. The Red Storm were led by 23 points and 13 rebounds from Moe Harkless, the fourth-leading freshman scorer in the nation. According to kenpom.com, St. John’s has the least experienced roster in the nation, averaging just 0.56 years.

Free Throw Focus - Julius Mays
Mays went 19-20 from the free throw line in Wright State’s 69-63 win over UIC, setting a school record for free throws made in a game. It’s the second-most free throws made in a game this season behind 20 from Oregon State’s Jared Cunningham. Mays, a transfer from N.C. State, finished with a career-high 33 points.

Ugly Stat Line of the Night - Herb Pope
Pope went 2-for-16 from the field in Seton Hall's ugly 55-42 home loss to Notre Dame. It was the fewest points Seton Hall has scored at home since 2005. Even without Pope's bad night, the rest of the Pirates still shot just 31.7 percent. Pope missed his first six shots and was 1-12 going into halftime. Of his 14 misses, seven were listed as layups in the box score, and one was a dunk.
Streeter Lecka/Getty ImagesHarrison Barnes will be among the players College GameDay will be assessing on Saturday afternoon.
Let’s get you warmed up for the first College GameDay road show of the season (live from Tallahassee, Fla. at 10 a.m. ET on ESPN) by taking a look at some notes and nuggets from our college hoops advanced stats research team (a group we call the "Stats in the Paint" team).

Saturday’s Matchups

(2) Kentucky at Tennessee, Noon ET

Key stat: In its first two conference games of the season, Kentucky has shot 50 percent against zone defenses and 39 percent against man-to-man. That’s noteworthy, because the Wildcats have faced zone defenses on about 60 percent of their offensive possessions in those two games.

(3) North Carolina at Florida State, 2 p.m. ET
Key stat: Though Florida State allows 87.1 points per 100 possessions on defense (13th in the nation), it has trouble on the offensive end.

The Seminoles turn the ball over on 26 percent of their possessions, worst in the ACC and 11th worst in the country.

Oklahoma State at (4) Baylor, 3 p.m. ET
Key stat: Baylor is averaging 9 steals per game, and 21 points per game off turnovers (best in the Big 12). That’s helped by Perry Jones III, who is 9-for-9 on transition 2-point field goal attempts this season.

Teams on the rise

• Murray State ranks 10th in the nation in transition points with 307. In three games against teams currently in the RPI’s top 50, the Racers shot 77 percent and averaged 23 points per game in transition.

• UNLV is averaging 113.9 points per 100 possessions this season, 15th most in the country. The Runnin' Rebels get assists on 65 percent of their baskets, 11th-best in the nation.

Teams that are flailing

• Pittsburgh averages just 56.1 points per game with its FIRST-chance on a possession this season, which is fourth worst in the Big East and ranks 52nd out of 74 Big Six conference teams.

• Opponents are shooting nearly 60 percent in transition against Xavier in the Musketeers’ last eight games; opponents were shooting 47 percent in transition in Xavier’s first eight games.

Tell Me Something I Don’t Know

Among the topics Rece Davis, Digger Phelps, Jay Bilas and Hubert Davis plan to tackle:

Is Doug McDermott the new Jimmer Fredette?

McDermott entered Friday averaging 24.5 points per game, which ranks second in the nation. He’s made the most field goals in Division 1 (158) and is shooting over 60 percent from the field this season.

McDermott has scored 30 percent of Creighton’s points this season and takes 36 percent of the team’s shots while he’s on the floor, comparable to Fredette, whose rates were 36 percent and 38 percent.

Creighton has played three games against Big Six conference opponents this season (all wins).

In those games, McDermott shot 66 percent from the field. In four games against Big Six foes, Fredette struggled, especially in the half court. McDermott made two-thirds of his shots in half court, and averaged 1.28 points per play. Fredette only made 42 percent and averaged 0.95 points per play.

The big difference in their games is in trips to the free-throw line. McDermott is just 15th in the Missouri Valley Conference and 402nd in the nation in free throws made. Fredette ended the 2010-11 season ranked first in the nation in that stat.

MWC continues to climb in power rankings

January, 10, 2012
1/10/12
10:52
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The Big Ten remains at the top of ESPN Stats and Info’s weekly college basketball power rankings, but the Mountain West has continued to move closer to the ACC and the top five.

For a complete recap of how we rank the conferences, click here and here.

The computers have continued to rate the Big Ten highly, as their ranking increased from 56.0 to 49.7 this week. The conference now has three teams in the top eight in the nation, with Ohio State, Michigan State and Indiana continuing to win during Big Ten play.

The Mountain West Conference has consistently increased its final rating throughout the season, and is at a season high 78.4 this week, now just two points behind the ACC. The MWC has two teams ranked in both the AP and ESPN/USA Today Top 25 polls for the second straight week, and UNLV jumped five spots in both polls this week from 17 to 12.

The conference has performed very well in out-of-conference games this season, posting a .765 winning percentage, the fourth-highest of any conference. The Mountain West ranks above the ACC, SEC and Pac-12 in out-of-conference winning percentage, and had its most success against the Pac-12, winning 11 of 14 games.

The highest human bonus went to the Big 12 this week. Although Missouri lost to Kansas State last Saturday, the Wildcats capitalized on that win to move up from 22 to 18 in both polls, and Kansas joined Mizzou and Baylor in the top 10.

While the Big East was previously at the top of the human bonus, it has faltered lately and is now the fourth-rated conference according to the human polls. Syracuse is still controlling the top of both polls, but Connecticut, Louisville and Georgetown struggled last week, all falling out of the top 10.

The Pac-12 dropped to a season-low ninth in the power rankings this week, and is now sitting behind three mid-major conference teams.

Melo sets Syracuse record
Fab Melo blocked a school-record 10 shots as Syracuse defeated Seton Hall 75-49. Etan Thomas previously held the Syracuse record with nine blocks, which he reached on three occasions. The performance doubled Melo’s previous career high of five.

Melo had eight blocks at halftime, and was poised to challenge Dikembe Mutombo’s record of 12 in a Big East conference game. But Melo logged only eight second-half minutes in the blowout. It’s still tied for the third-most blocks in a Big East conference game.

Rebels runnin’ up the score
UNLV shot 67.1 percent in a 124-75 win over Central Arkansas. It’s the most points scored by UNLV since the 1990-91 squad that included Larry Johnson, Stacey Augmon and Greg Anthony. It’s the most points scored against a Division I opponent since Seton Hall put up 134 on VMI in December 2009.

UNLV’s bench scored 82 points, the most by a bench against a Division I opponent since UMKC got 94 points from its reserves in a 2007 loss to Oakland. Chace Stanback came off the bench and went 9-for-11 from 3-point range to lead all scorers with 29 points.

Moore owns the boards
UAB’s Cameron Moore pulled down a school-record 24 rebounds in a 56-49 win over George Washington. It’s the most rebounds in a game since December 2009 when Morgan State’s Kevin Thompson grabbed 25. Moore also led all scorers with 19 points, and had a double-double at halftime.

His 24 rebounds equaled George Washington’s team rebounding total on the night. In the second half, he single-handedly outrebounded the Colonials 14-12.

Everything but the points
The outcome of St. Joseph’s 81-50 win over Morgan State was never in doubt, so let’s just focus on one of the strangest lines of the season. Halil Kanacevic had seven blocks, eight rebounds, 12 assists and five fouls in 22 minutes. Oh, and he went scoreless.

His 12 assists fell two shy of the school record, and were the third most this season without scoring a point. His seven blocks tied the most in a scoreless game this season. Not surprisingly, he’s the only player in at least the past 15 seasons with 12 assists and seven blocks in a game.

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