(picture via wcbi.com)
Two days from now, Kentucky will begin its run at their 48th SEC conference title when they open up against lowly Mississippi State at Rupp Arena. But how will Kentucky go about beating their Starksville opponent?
By just showing up.
I kid, I kid. Obviously, more effort than that will be needed to put away Mississippi State (with all this talk about how much Coach Cal has helped them, I assume we will see that effort). After looking through Mississippi State’s profile, though, the Bulldogs will play right into the Cat’s hands and we should be on the lookout for an offensive onslaught that we haven’t seen out of UK this season.
So far this season, the Cats are ranked 6th in the country in offensive efficiency (good), and Mississippi State ranks 98th in defensive efficiency (not bad, when compared to their 285th ranked offense). On offense, UK does three things incredibly well: they offensive rebound like crazy, they get to the free throw line a lot, and they hit a high percentage of their two-pointers. On defense, Mississippi State struggles mightily in two areas: they are 135th in defensive rebounding percentage, and they are 154th in two-point field goal defense.
Now I’m no expert (as much as I’d like to think I am), but that on paper seems to be a bit of a mismatch and a recipe for a lot of points for UK.
The real struggles for Mississippi State, however, are on the offensive end, where their offense is seemingly offensive. They are 138th in effective field goal percentage, 272nd in turnover percentage, 141st in offensive rebound percentage, and 120th in free throw rate. All, obviously, are very poor marks. Their best player, Gavin Ware, is capable of putting up huge rebounding numbers, but all too often he finds himself in foul trouble (five times already this season), and against a team like Kentucky who forces a lot of fouls he could find himself in such trouble again.
All in all, expect Kentucky to use their immense rebounding advantage on both ends, and their interior advantage on the offensive end to methodically crush Mississippi State on Wednesday. Coupled with the fact that this is apparently a “new team” after Camp Cal, and woah, this could get ugly. I’m saying Cats win 88-50.
What do you think the final score will be, fellow Cats fans?
Sports Fun Fact of the Day: Auburn running back Tre Mason’s father, Vincent, is a member of the hip-hop group De La Soul.