Don’t Start Slow
I know it sounds like something from Captain Obvious, but it is imperative tonight. The atmosphere will be intense. The Cats cannot allow Kansas to ride the emotion from the crowd and get a big early lead. In Kentucky’s losses at UCLA and Ohio State, they dug a hole too deep to overcome. If the Cats have it within five points at the under-16:00 media timeout, I like their chances.
Clean the Glass
Even though the Cats were outstanding from behind the three-point line against Mizzou, they don’t need to be deadeye from three to win this game. They must be able to get second chance points. It’s demoralizing to play good defense, yet still watch the other team score on an offensive rebound. On the other end, Kansas doesn’t have proven post play. Kentucky cannot let them find a rhythm by getting easy second chance buckets.
Take Care of the Ball
A stat lost in the shuffle during UK’s three-game winning streak is how well they’ve taken care of the ball, averaging only 8 turnovers a game during that stretch. Against Arkansas, they had a season-low 6 turnovers. If the Cats can avoid silly turnovers that lead to points, it will prevent the Jayhawks from building momentum with big runs.
In case you haven’t got the hint, the best thing Kentucky can do to neutralize the intense environment is preventing the crowd from getting into the game by stopping them from going on big runs.
Derek Willis vs. Perry Ellis
It’s the matchup everyone will be watching. Both can stretch the floor. Both can score inside and out. Both are much better offensively than defensively. Derek Willis must continue to rebound the ball exceptionally, and bring energy defensively. It’d also be nice if he could knock down a couple of big threes.