As tonight’s tip-off draws near, let’s take a look at the Cats’ next opponent, the Duquesne Dukes.
Five Things You Need to Know
1. Battle of the guards
Just like the Wildcats, the Dukes are expected to rely heavily on their three starting guards: Tarin Smith, Mike Lewis II and Emile Blackman. So far this season, the trio is combining for an average of 32.8 points per game. For Kentucky, Isaiah Briscoe, De’Aaron Fox and Malik Monk are expected to lead the team. In UK’s first three games, these guards are averaging a combined 51 points per game. I like those numbers.
2. Defense will be key
Duquesne operates under a very effective offense. Last season, the Dukes averaged 79.5 points per game. This season, however, the team is working with an eight player rotation, and only two of these players average over ten points per game.
3. Player to watch: Tarin Smith
One of these players is 6’2 sophomore Tarin Smith, who is averaging 15.5 points per game this season. A graduate of St. Anthony High School in New Jersey, Smith played under Hall of Fame coach Bob Hurley and signed with Nebraska during his senior season. Now, however, he plays for Duquesne, and he’s their leading scorer. He also leads the team in assists per game, clocking in at 3.8.
4. Rebounds, rebounds, rebounds
If Kentucky’s struggled with one thing so far this season, it’s been rebounding. In the first three games, UK has been out-rebounded by a total of nine boards. Tonight’s matchup features a much smaller opponent, so hopefully the Cats can grab a few extra rebounds.
5. Guarding the three
The Dukes are shooting 35.1 percent from behind the arc so far this season, compared to the Cats’ 29.1 percent. Two of their players hit at least 50 percent of their treys: Isiaha Mike, a 6/8 freshman, has gone 7-12 so far this season (58.3 percent), and Rene Castro, a 6’2 junior, is 7-14 (50 percent).
If you can’t make it to Rupp Arena, be sure to tune in to ESPNU tonight at 9:00 to watch the matchup.