Well, that happened. Ohio State took George Mason to the woodshed, 98-66.
David Lighty and Jared Sullinger lit the fire on both ends, driving home the point that Ohio State can beat you from the inside and the outside. For the Cats to have a shot, they must put in their best performance from start to finish. Ohio State pounced on each George Mason mistake and thoroughly punished the Patriots. Yeah yeah, I hear you, Kentucky is in a different class than George Mason when it comes to talent, but this squad has been making errors the whole tournament and getting away with it. That won’t happen Friday.
Because today’s game was rather boring, the announcers spent a lot of time talking about how Kentucky matched up to Ohio State. And, surprisingly, it was Rick Pitino who pointed out that if there is a team in the tournament who could beat Ohio State, it’s Kentucky. Think about it: the Cats are the type of team that can give Ohio State fits with their up-tempo pace, defensive intensity, and impressive guard play. This Kentucky team plays best when it emphasizes its talent and athleticism in the open court. The Cats must control the tempo of the game, keeping Ohio State on their toes defensively (I’m looking at you, DeAndre Liggins) and capitalizing on fast break opportunities. Like BTI mentioned earlier, Brandon Knight must dominate; his performance yesterday was incredibly encouraging.
Jorts will have his hands full with Jared Sullinger in the middle, and hopefully Eloy can provide valuable minutes off the bench when he needs a break (although the thought of Eloy going up against Sullinger terrifies me). We’ll need more than one big three from Darius Miller and Doron Lamb must hustle on defense, an area in which he’s been lacking this season. Five DeAndre Liggins on defense wouldn’t hurt either.
Scared yet? Take heart in one thing: for the first time in forever, Kentucky will be the underdog. And no one wants to piss off the underdog.