Ideally? Less of that happening would be nice.
1.) Be Prepared For A Physical Game
-Last time Kentucky played Georgia they let the physicality of the Georgia big men get to them. After the game, Terrence Jones said “We definitely didn’t adjust to the bumps. Trying to draw fouls in physical games like this doesn’t work. The refs aren’t going to give it to you.” Now, there’s no telling if the refs will let Georgia get away with the same type of physicality that they did a couple weeks ago, but you can bet that the bulldogs are going to give it a shot. For Kentucky to play the type of game they want to, they are going to have to be stronger going to the rim.
2.) Don’t Foul
-Strangely enough, despite Georgia mauling Kentucky players heading to the rim, it was the Wildcats who ended up in foul trouble. Playing at Georgia, Miller, Liggins, and Lamb all fouled out towards the end of the second half. Terrence Jones had four fouls – and took himself out early in the first half with two. For a Kentucky team that lacks depth, the stars have got to stay on the court. I’d imagine this has been a point of emphasis since the game in Athens and we will see if Kentucky has taken it to heart.
3.) Contain Trey Thompkins
-Unfortunately, the bulldogs best player happens to line up against Kentucky’s biggest weakness – in the post. Last time Trey Thompkins scored at will, contributing 25 points – just one off his season high. He was able to score so much in part because of the lack of Terrence Jones early in the game, but also by out positioning Josh Harrellson who hasn’t looked the same since the Louisville game. As you have seen a number of times on the site this week, Jones has been making it his mission this week to out play Thompkins – and while there are many other factors in this game, the Jones/Thompkins matchup may be the most important.
4.) Hit Your Shots
-It may seem like a no brainer to say “if you shoot a higher percentage you have a greater chance to win,” but sometimes it needs to be said. Especially when Kentucky shot about 10% worse in every category the last time these teams met. In fact, if you look at the box score it was the missed shots that were the biggest story of the trip to Athens, even more so than the foul struggles. Lamb was 7-18, Knight 5-11, Miller 2-11 and Ligins 2-9. If Kentucky can make sure to take good shots within the offense – and they are hitting them – this game shouldn’t be nearly as tough.
5.) Veteran Leadership
-As you may have picked up on from this post, the veterans simply did not deliver last go around. For Kentucky to beat a tough opponent, they don’t have to be outstanding, but they do have to have some positive influence on the game. Harrellson has to get boards, Liggins can’t take too many shots and has to play tough defense, and Miller has to know when his shot is falling, and if it isn’t, help keep the offense flowing.
All in all, I think Kentucky wins this one fairly comfortably. They went down to Georgia and really got knocked in the mouth before they knew what to expect from an SEC road game. They have looked better as of late, and the flukes that plagued them in Athens shouldn’t rear back up. Cats win 82-74.