This guy knows a thing or two about big game.
Andy Katz didn’t mince words in his preview of tonight’s games. ”This is a sentence that seemed unfathomable a year ago: Kentucky needs a marquee win Tuesday night at Ole Miss to be NCAA worthy heading into February.” And Bracketology expert Joe Lunardi? He’s more than familiar with the Cats’ tenuous position.
— Joe Lunardi (@ESPNLunardi) January 29, 2013
With this Bizarro situation before us, “unfathomable” though it may be, is Ole Miss now the most important game left on our schedule? The only other currently-ranked teams we play are Mizzou at home, and Florida twice. Missouri already has a couple conference losses, like us, and Florida looks, well, Florida looks almost unbeatable in league play. The Ole Miss game is a very winnable game against an opponent who definitely isn’t used to the position they’re in. You talk about “act like you’ve been there before?” Well, they definitely haven’t. Kentucky is used to leading the SEC, and even Florida is no stranger to league success, but Ole Miss? Well, they’re the Cinderella of the conference this year.
The bottom line is, Kentucky doesn’t have a win against a ranked team this year. And no other SEC team is going to be ranked before Kentucky is. I won’t say beating Florida is out of reach, but I’m not gonna put a lot of eggs in that basket. Ole Miss and Mizzou are both ranked almost identically, but Ole Miss has a better standing in the SEC, and it’s more important to knock them out of it while we have the chance.
And what a chance we have, because this is a winnable game. Very winnable. Ole Miss scores a lot of points and grabs a lot of rebounds, but their FG% isn’t that great. Marshall Henderson and Murphy Holloway are the only players averaging double-digit points, and Henderson shoots around 39%. They’re very much a fast-paced, volume team that relies on a couple guys to do the bulk of the scoring. For perspective, they’ve lost to Middle Tennessee State and Indiana State, which hasn’t been the same since Larry Bird left. They have a good win against Missouri, but other than that, their schedule is weaker than the coffee at Phil’s Market.
To boil it down to a single sentence, this might be Kentucky’s best chance for a marquee win against the SEC leader while on the tourney bubble. Regular season games typically don’t get much bigger than that.
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Bill Keightley Report : Never to be forgotten.
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