We’re just about two hours away from tip-off of Kentucky/Davidson, which means my nerves are completely shot. What must Kentucky do tonight to avoid the upset everyone’s calling for? I’ve got three keys to the game.
Clamp down on the perimeter
This is the obvious one. Davidson is one of the best three-point shooting teams in the country, connecting on almost 40% of their attempts from beyond the arc. Forty-eight percent of Davidson’s field goals are threes, with NINE players averaging over 37% from beyond the arc, four 40% or better. They average 10.7 made threes per game; for comparison’s sake, the most threes Kentucky’s made in a game this season is 12.
Thankfully, Kentucky ranks third in the country in three-point defense, holding opponents to only 29.9% from three. Kentucky’s length is something Davidson hasn’t encountered a lot this season, so hopefully it will be the X-factor to keeping the black and red Wildcats quiet from the outside.
Own the glass
Davidson is one of the worst offensive rebounding teams in the country, only pulling down an average of 6.9 offensive boards per game to Kentucky’s 12.1. Kentucky must use their size and athleticism on the glass, because once Davidson gets the ball, they rarely turn it over. With Jarred Vanderbilt out, Kentucky needs continued production on the glass from Kevin Knox, Sacha Killeya-Jones, and Wenyen Gabriel.
Do the things Davidson can’t
Kentucky clearly has more talent and athleticism than Davidson. To offset all of Davidson’s threes, playmakers like Kevin Knox and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander need to burn them in transition and in the lane. Davidson will likely use a 2-3 zone as they have in the second half of the season, but it shouldn’t be a problem if Wenyen Gabriel, Knox, or Quade Green get hot from the outside.
Now, please excuse me while I go throw up.