Assuming Ohio State wins today in a hour, and I am going to assume that, Kentucky faces a tall task against the tournament favorites. UK will likely need one of its best gameplans and one if its best execution games to defeat the Buckeyes. But in this college basketball year that has no great teams, Kentucky does have a fighting chance. And I think the game revolves around 4 keys points.
(And if Ohio State does lose today, consider this me jinxing them and thus I should be given credit for that too)
1. Have a home crowd in Newark
-I don’t know how ticket sales will go, but I can guarantee that Kentucky fans will travel to Newark in greater numbers than Ohio State fans, who seriously care more about Jim Tressel’s cheating than their potential national champion basketball team. Hopefully, the pro-UK crowd can make a difference. It needs to be loud and it needs to be loud for 40 minutes. What where the 2 loudest road crowds Ohio State played this season? Wisconsin and Purdue. What were OSU’s 2 losses? Wisconsin and Purdue.
2. Shoot the 3-pointer well
-Wisconsin hit 12 of 24 threes and Purdue hit 7 of 20 threes in OSU’s 2 losses this season. Kentucky has the shooters to compete with those numbers. If the Cats can shoot a high percentage from downtown, it would likely eliminate all advantage the Buckeyes would have in the post.
3. Don’t let Diebler shoot from the perimeter
-In OSU’s two losses, Diebler was only allowed to ATTEMPT 6 total 3-pointers. This from a guy who has hit 9 and 10 threes in games this season. I would argue Diebler is a greater threat to kill UK than Sullinger. Sullinger will likely get his no matter what, and I think the Cats should guard him 1-on-1 and let him score his 20 or 25. But whatever they do, you can NOT leave Diebler. If Diebler hits 5 or more treys against UK, the Cats have no chance.
4. Brandon Knight Brandon Knight Brandon Knight
-The offense should revolve around getting Brandon Knight opens looks and isolation plays to drive to the basket. He will likely have Aaron Craft or David Lighty guarding him, neither of which are good defenders. It is the position on the floor the Cats have the biggest advantage. E’tuan Moore scored 38 points and Jordan Taylor scored 27 against Ohio State in wins over the Buckeyes. Brandon Knight needs to be the best player on the floor. Period. Exclamation Point.