- Solid defensive team that can force bad shots.
- Poor shooting team from the perimeter.
- Talented inside/outside Sophomore duo (Sword & Ware).
- Scrappy, young group with some talent.
#15 PG I.J. Ready: 5’11’’, 170 FR.
Averages 6.7 points per game with 3 assists to just 1 turnover per contest. Doesn’t take a lot of 3’s, but is 10/20 from beyond the arc. Small, explosive guard who will look to push the ball in transition a little bit.
#32 SG Craig Sword: 6’3’’ 194 SO.
Leading scorer at 14.3 points per game. Sword is a very talented player who was named to the SEC All-Freshman team last season. Does not look to shoot it from the perimeter, but is very effective inside, shooting 57% on his field goal attempts. Out of high school he was the #88 player in the country according to Rivals and was also awarded Mr. Basketball in the state of Alabama.
#1 SF Fred Thomas: 6’5’’ 206 SO.
Thomas is an aggressive offensive player who will fire away in transition (even though he is shooting just 33% from the field and 16/55 from beyond the arc). The sophomore wing is currently averaging 8.3 points and 3.5 rebounds.
#3 PF Colin Borchert: 6’8’’ 231 SR.
The veteran big-man plays more like a “stretch-4” as he leads the Bulldogs with 57 3-point attempts. However, he has connected on just 16 of those shots and shoots only 41% from the field. Still, Borchert comes in averaging double-figures at 10.1 points per game. He really likes to come out to the top of the key for a “high-low” look where he will get a quick catch and throw a little lob down low to Ware.
#20 C Gavin Ware: 6’9’’ 268 SO.
Another highly-touted recruit in the Bulldogs 2012 recruiting class; Ware was ranked #99 in the country by Rivals out of high school. Like classmate Craig Sword, Ware was named to the SEC All-Freshman Team last season and has picked up where he left off this campaign. He currently is averaging a near double-double with 11.2 points and 8.9 rebounds per contest. He has a variety of post moves down low and has very quick feet to go along with his sturdy frame.
#25 SF/PF Roquez Johnson: 6’7’’ 210 JR.
Solid spark off the bench; Roquez comes in averaging 9 points and nearly 5 rebounds per game. Johnson is very athletic and is active on the offensive glass, half of his rebounds come on the offensive end.
#4 PG Trivante Bloodman: 6’0’’ 182 JR.
Trivante averages 5.2 points and 2 assists a game. He doesn’t look to score a lot in the half court, but he can make some things happen in transition. Not a shooting threat; he has attempted just 5 3-pointers on the season.
- Will look to push the ball up the court some off of missed shots. They have a number of athletic players who can get up and down, but they will not hurt you with transition 3’s or pull-up jumpers. Will attack the basketball off the dribble or find Borcert or Ware on a “rim-run.”
- In the half-court the Bulldogs will look for Craig Sword to attack the basket. He is a dynamic player off the dribble and finishes very well inside. He gets to the foul line quite a bit, but leaves a lot of points on the floor as he is just a 56% foul shooter. A pick-and-pop action with Borchert can be effective, but so far this season he has struggled from beyond the arc.
- They like to post-up Gavin Ware and simply let him go to work. Also, they will bring Borchert out to the high-post or even all the way out to the perimeter where he will get a catch and throw a “high-low” pass to Ware who has sealed his man down low.
- Overall the Bulldogs are not a good 3-point shooting team (30%) or a good free-throw shooting team (64%). They also turn the ball over a lot, ranking 285th in the country in turnovers per game.
- MSU is primarily a man-to-man team, but a lot of teams will mix in some zone looks against Kentucky. However, with some undersized guards (especially compared to the Wildcat guards) a zone may not be as effective. So far this season the Bulldog defense has been very solid, giving up just 65.5 points per game (65th in the country) and holding opponents to 43% shooting.
Keys to the Game
- UK and MSU have similar numbers from the field and from the 3-point arc, almost identical actually, but the Wildcats have made over 100 more free throws. The ‘Cats will want to keep that advantage this evening.
- Whichever Harrison matches up against Craig Sword is going to have to come to play. If history is any indicator I will predict that Dominique Hawkins will be called upon at some point to slow Sword down. Keep him from getting 20+ and this game should be over early.
- Like Sword, Gavin Ware is capable of having a big game. However, he simply doesn’t match up as well because he will be going against Julius Randle and Willie Cauley-Stein. Stay out of foul trouble and I don’t see Ware going crazy on the ‘Cats.
- Quite simply, UK is just a much better team than MSU. The Bulldogs have yet to beat anyone that is any good and the Wildcats are coming off of a signature win against Louisville. If everyone shows up and plays well this should be a 20 point victory.