**Before he took the solemn vows of initiation at The Brown Tweed Society, Evan Hilbert and I enjoyed some good times at WildcatBlitz.com and here at Kentucky Sports Radio. I liked the way he laughed, his firm embrace and, mostly, his preview of the starting lineups of opposing basketball teams. So, just like the bat signal, I’ll be posting these each game, hoping that it brings Evan home.
We could talk about the all-time records of these two teams and all the Final Fours and National Championships between them. We could go over the NBA talent on the floor or even talk about the two coaching legends controlling the sidelines (especially the one found partially responsible for the probation his ex-school was handed after he left…and it’s not the one you think). We could even talk about all the great players that have worn the jerseys. But, does it really matter? We all know what today means and we’ve been looking toward December 5th for a long time. I don’t want to waste your time anymore than my KSR contract states I have to (plus I procrastinated on this and need to get running to the alumni party). It’s a going to be a huge day in Rupp.
Let’s do this.
#11 Larry Drew II, 6-2, G, Sophomore
2009-10 stats: 9.0 ppg, 6.6 spg, 3 TOs per game, 47% from three
You don’t have to know Atlanta Hawks assistant and former NBAer Larry Drew to know that his son is genetically exceptional. He made sure it was obvious when he added those Roman numerals on the end of young Larry’s name. Carolina fans, though, haven’t been competely enamored with young Larry’s play this season – his first as the starting point guard. Drew is mostly a pass-first point who looks to get the more talented players good looks at the basket. He will, however, pull from downtown if left open. Because of depth issues – or really, no depth issues – Drew II will have to stay out of foul trouble. He might not be the most talented player on the team, but he’ll be possibly the most important against the Cats. Plus, he’s the only player on the team whose name can be used as an ad-lib. EX. Larry drew the second (noun), which meant he was forced to (verb) with the (adjective) (noun).
#1 Marcus Ginyard, 6-5, G, 10-year veteran
2009-10 stats: 11.1 ppg, 4.5 apg, 3.6 rpg, 56% from field, 48% from three
You might be familiar with Ginyard because of his anti-Duke tweet this week. You also might be familiar with him because this is his third trip to Rupp Arena – and the third UK coach he’ll face there. Dude has been around awhile. As a freshman, he logged 27 minutes and put up 8 points against a UK squad that gave 29 minutes to Rekalin Sims and saw Brandon Stockton, Sheray Thomas, Bobby Perry, Ravi Moss and Patrick Sparks log time. Like I said, dude has been around awhile. But, this old man isn’t just another barely warm body for the Tar Heels. Ginyard is probably the most complete basketball player on the team and is the kind of guy who could give UK fits. He shoots the ball well and, not surprisingly, is the leader on offense. He’s also very active on defense and the smart money would be on him guarding John Wall for a large portion of the game.
#13 Will Graves, F, 6-6, Junior
2009-10 stats: 7.8 ppg, 3.8 rpg
Graves sees the least amount of time of all the starters and you can probably bet that won’t change against the Cats. Assuming Cal does not change his lineups to match up with the taller (in the backcourt) Heels, Graves will again see Dexter Strickland cut into some minutes. Basically, what I’m saying is that, eventhough he appears to be the original FatHead, I wouldn’t expect him to be on our (John) Wall.
#21 Deon Thompson, 6-9, F, Senior
2009-10 stats: 17.3 ppg, 8.3 rpg
Deon Thompson enters this game as UNC’s leading scorer and a recent member of the 1,000 point club…and probably a better matchup for Patrick Patterson than that Hansbrough character he abused every year. Thompson is physical inside and has the “never back down” attitude every coach wants from their big man. Plus, he has arms longer than Will Lentz’ post yesterday which helps him get his shot off inside. He’s steadily improved at Carolina since arriving as a four-star prospect and a bit of an afterthough in a class the included Brandan Wright, Wayne Ellington and Ty Lawson.
#32 Ed Davis, 6-10, F, Sophomore
2009-10 stats: 13.9 ppg, 9.4 rpg, 2.4 bpg
Originally named Sylvester von Kleightensteinburger, Carolina’s big man was renamed “Ed Davis” after being put into protective custody. He is the best pro prospect on Carolina’s roster but hasn’t quite made scouts drool this season. Still projecting as a top 5 pick but you’d be hard pressed to find an NBA person who wouldn’t like to see more from von Kleightensteinburger. You can bet your allowance that the 20 NBA scouts in attendance will be watching this Davis-Cousins matchup more than any other. Four double-doubles already this year and averaging 17 and 11 in his last four games.
– Tyler Zeller: 7-footer from Indiana averages 9 and 4 off the bench, but many believe he still suffers from Ramonaphobia.
– John Henson: Rivals’ #5 player in the ’09 class hasn’t quite adjusted to the college game yet and averages 3 points and 10 minutes per game. His 6’10”, 195 pound (they say) body might make Perry Stevenson change his post-college plans. Side note: his sister might be the better basketball player.
– Dexter Strickland: Another freshman who will likely see a lot of time, but his will be between both guard spots. Averages 3 points but looked to be establishing confidence against Mich. St. from downtown.
– Wear twins: They’re tall and they look alike. And they’re freshman. Sensing a theme?
Notes: Kentucky enters the game leading the all-time wins race 1,995 to 1,991….UNC leads the all-time series 21-10….John Wall’s 7.8 assists per game is third in the nation and tops in the SEC….Calipari is 1-0 against Carolina….Roy Williams is the winningest active coach in terms of percentage (3rd all-time) while Cal is 3rd (13th all-time)….UK has held opponents to 36% shooting and UNC allows 40%….Both teams struggle with turnovers as UK is 271st in the nation in TO margin and UNC is 245th…Both teams average 43 rebounds per game and UK is 7th in margin, while UNC is 12th….you can take some Tylenol for this stats-induced headache….better yet, how about a spoonful of John Wall?….again, sorry this sucks…..we’ll do better for UConn….