Looking at a home schedule that features the likes of North Carolina, Florida, and Texas it could be easy to pass over Providence. However the 6-0 Friars have started off the season with wins over teams like Florida State and Notre Dame and will come to Rupp Arena as the first home test for the Wildcats. Last season Kentucky and Providence played a close game in Brooklyn before Willie Cauley-Stein approached near super saiyan levels with 15 points, 8 rebounds, and 9 blocks. This year you can bet the Friar gameplan will to be avoiding the inside at all costs. If the Cats are going to keep on rolling here are three things they’ll need to do:
1) Contain LaDontae Henton
With Kris Dunn and Jalen Lindsey highly likely to miss their second straight game, the Friars are going to need leading scorer LaDontae Henton to carry even more of the load. Last year the talented forward notched just 7 points and 5 rebounds against the Cats as he tried his best to contain Julius Randle. This year he’s off to a hot start with an average of 24 points per game. It’s hard to imagine Henton being able to put up those numbers against a frontcourt that features WCS, Karl Towns, Dakari, Marcus Lee, Trey Lyles, and Alex Poythress. Keeping Henton contained means the Friars will need someone else to step up, particularly from outside. Similar to what they had out of Bryce Cotton last season.
2) Avoid Bryce Cotton 2.0
Last season Bryce Cotton torched the Cats for 23 points with 5-9 from downtown. Now, Cotton is playing for the Spurs’ D-League team and the Friars will need someone to challenge Kentucky from outside if they are going to be competitive. That challenger could come in the form of Kyron Cartwright a 5’11 freshman from Compton, California. Cartwright is 0-12 so far this season from beyond the arc which means he will be NBA JAM on fire mode in Rupp Arena. There is always a random guy who gets hot under the Lexington lights but if the Cats are able to keep Cartwright or any of the other Friars from doing so they should win with ease. As long as they score against a tight zone.
3) Execute The Offense
Providence isn’t going to try and out-athlete the Cats tomorrow. You can bet they are going to pack in the zone and dare the Cats to beat them from the outside. Texas-Arlington did that and the Cats executed their offense to win with ease. If they knock down shots from the outside and move the ball with efficiency then Kentucky should have little trouble taking down a team ranked inside the top forty of the KenPom ratings.
How do you think the Cats will play today and what do you think will be the final score?