Thursday, January 28, 2010

Kentucky vs Vanderbilt......A Preview

Lwcat
WT Administrator

Kentucky vs Vanderbilt….A Preview
(1/30/10 Saturday-4PMEST/3PMCST)
TV-ESPN

Vanderbilt

Location-Nashville, Tn
Enrollment-6,378
Arena-14,316

Head Coach-Kevin Stallings
Career Record-312-191 (62.0%) 16 seasons
At Vandebilt-189-128 (59.6%) 10 seasons

2008-09 Record-19-12
2008-09 SEC Record-8-8
2008-09 Postseason -None

2009-10 Record-16-3
2009-10 SEC Record-5-0

Vanderbilt 95 Lipscomb 73
Vanderbilt 72 St. Mary’s (Calif) 70
Cincinnati 67 Vanderbilt 58
Vanderbilt 68 Chaminade 41
Vanderbilt 84 Arizona 72
Vanderbilt 89 Missouri 83
Vanderbilt 67 DePaul 54
Illinois 79 Vanderbilt 68
Western Ky. 76 Vanderbilt 69
Vanderbilt 84 Tennessee St. 71
Vanderbilt 99 Mercer 59
Vanderbilt 86 Manhattan 48
Vanderbilt 82 Southern Miss 46
Vanderbilt 73 Middle Tenn. St. 53
Vanderbilt 95 Florida 87
Vanderbilt 65 Alabama 64
Vanderbilt 89 South Carolina 79
Vanderbilt 82 Auburn 74
Vanderbilt 85 Tennessee 76

Vanderbilt Stats / Kentucky Stats

PPG-79.5 / 82.1
FG%-49.8% / 49.3%
3 Point FG%-37.2% / 37.6%
FT%-68.9% / 68.7%
Rebounds-37.4 / 42.1
Assists-14.1 / 16.0
TO’s-14.1 / 15.1
Steals-6.1 / 7.3
Blocks-5.9 / 7.2

Probable Starting Lineups

Andre Walker F-6’7” So. (PPG-6.3)
Jeffery Taylor F-6’7” So. (PPG-14.1)
A.J. Ogilvy C-6’11” Jr. (PPG-13.8)
Jermaine Beal G-6’3” Sr. (PPG-13.7)
Brad Tinsley G-6’3” So. (PPG-7.1)

Other Key Players

Lance Goulbourne F-6’8” So. (PPG-3.3)
John Jenkins G-6’4” Fr. (PPG-10.8)
Steve Tchiengang F-6’9” So. (PPG-3.4)

Vanderbilt arrives in Rupp Arena riding a 10 game winning streak…..including a 5-0 record in SEC play. Three of those wins were away games at Alabama, South Carolina and Tennessee. The Dores just defeated 14th ranked Tennessee in Knoxville…..not an easy place to win. Vanderbilt’s ranking in the polls at 21st and 23rd will surely rise and especially if they can defeat UK in Lexington.

The success of this Vandy team should not be a surprise….the team spent 10 days in August playing basketball games in Australia…..and they returned their entire roster from last season except one sub. The Dores, while not a great athletic team, bring experience, generally great shooting and often overachieve. Vandy is a fundamentally sound team….well coached…and rarely losses in Nashville….but, this season….they are winning on the road and are off to a tremendous start in the SEC.

A.J. Ogilvy, at 6’11”, gives Vandy one of the best centers in college basketball….. Ogilvy is the 2nd leading scorer….hitting 52.7% of his shots….while leading the team in rebounds with 6.1-PG. Forward Jeffery Taylor leads the Dores in scoring….and field goal percentage….hitting 54.5%.....also, Taylor is the 2nd leading rebounder at 5.3 PG. It seems like most every year, Vandy has some terrific long range shooters and this year is no exception. Guard Brad Tinsley is 45-92 from the perimeter for an eye-popping 48.9%. Basically, Tinsley is hitting one out of every two 3 point shots he takes. The other guard, Sr. Jermaine Beal is 39-109 from long range for a solid 35.8%. Beal also leads the team in assists.

Importantly, Vanderbilt is far from a one dimensional team, rather they have good scoring in the paint and from the outside. Vandy is often a cerebral team that seldom beats itself with mistakes. Make no mistake, the Dores are for real this year and will be a tough challenge for any SEC team this season!

UK arrives back in Rupp Arena having suffered a bad loss at South Carolina that broke the Cats 19 game winning streak and likely cost UK their #1 ranking in the polls. No one expected this very young inexperienced team, despite their marvelous talent, to be undefeated at this time, but, unfortunately, the loss at South Carolina hurts because it was a game that the Cats should have won. Now, the 64 dollar question is how will this super talented team respond….will they learn some valuable lessons from this disappointing loss? Certainly, one lesson is clear…..the Cats have got to get Patterson much more involved in the offense. Patrick is a great talent….a super kid…..and UK needs much more of his offense and much more rebounding. I look for Patterson to be much more aggressive in the future… starting with Vandy. In addition, the Cats need much more offensive production from the 3 position. At, South Carolina. Miller and Liggins produced zero points and Dodson only 5 points with poor shooting. There is far too much inconsistency from the 3 position, especially from Miller. Again, Darius is a very talented player who is up one game and down the next. Dodson, a good shooter, has struggled recently from the perimeter. Liggins has brought more intensity to the defense than Miller or Dodson, but the Cats will need some more offense from Liggins. Coach Calipari might make a change in the starting lineup at the 3 position…otherwise, Calipari keeps searching for someone to step up and give solid consistent play at the 3 position….both offensively and defensively.

Coach Calipari will be looking for his super talented guards, Wall and Bledsoe, to make better decisions and minimize TO’s. He will also look for more passes into the paint for Cousins and Patterson. Hopefully, these young Cats have learned that having great talent or more talent than your opponent doesn’t always mean victory. It’s what you do with that talent…..playing smart….executing your offense effectively….playing solid defense….and making the simple easy play rather than trying something spectacular.

In fairness, these Cats are young and inexperience and there is a learning curve, but now 20 games into the season….with a number of past close games….and now a loss to a clearly inferior South Carolina team….it’s time that these players truly learn from their mistakes and correct them. Vandy is only the start of some really tough games in the SEC.

The Vandy game is exceedingly important for these young Cats. They need to play a much improved game and defeat the Dores to regain their confidence. UK needs to demonstrate that they have indeed learned the lessons from their loss to South Carolina.

UK will need to bring their A game, for sure, against a Vandy team playing great basketball and brimming with confidence. Vandy will be a severe test for these young Cats….a very tough game. I see the Cats bouncing back from their loss and playing a great game against Vandy….I see a solid 7-10 point win over the Dores. GO CATS!

Monday, January 25, 2010

UK Basketball: From 1 to 1

The last game UK played while ranked #1 was the 2003 NCAA tournament game against Marquette. Keith Bogans had an injured ankle and some guy named Dwayne Wade....yes the Dwayne Wade....went off for 29 points leading Marquette to the Final Four that Year.

Since then, UK has endured

A 27-5 record in 2003/04 ending with a disappointing loss to UAB in the second round when UK was the top #1 seed

A 28-6 record in the 2004/05 season with a loss in he SECT finals to unranked Florida and ending with a heart breaking double OT loss to Michigan State for a shot at the Final Four

A 22-13 record for 2005/06 ending with a second round bounce in the NCAA's and another SECT finals loss to an unranked team

A 22-12 2006/07 season ending with UK being unranked heading into the SECT and NCAA's and another second round bounce from the dance at the hands of Kansas. Shortly after the season ended, coach Smith left for the job at Minnesota and Randolph Morris dropped out of school to take a free agent NBA contract after a lackluster and sometimes scandalous college career highlighted by the "mystery fax"

A 18-13 2007/08 season highlighted by the infamous Gardner Webb loss, 4 losses in a row in the SEC regular season, a first round and Thursday bounce from the SECT and a first round bounce from the NCAA's

A 22-14 2008/09 season highlighted by our first trip to the NIT since 1976, another Thursday appearance in the SECT, 4 losses in a row to end the regular season, and a 3rd round bounce from the NIT by Notre Dame

Billy Clyde Gillispie gets fired very shortly after the season ends and reports of player abuse start to circulate as well as rumors of an alcohol problem which are later confirmed by him getting another DUI and entering a substance abuse clinic. Let's hope he remains clean and makes a good name for himself again coaching basketball somewhere.

UK approaches John Calipari. John is not only interested but wanted the job two years prior also. Calipari is introduced as the new head coach of the UK men's basketball program. He brings in what is arguably the best college recruiting class ever in NCAA history.

UK starts the season 19-0 and finally returns to the number 1 ranking that has eluded us for two thousand two hundred forty six days thanks mainly to lackluster recruiting and coaches that could not handle the bright spot light of UK and the position of men's head basketball coach.

UK is THE winningest program in NCAA history with the highest winning percentage, the only team with 2000 wins, and a tradition richer than any other for a commitment to excellence.

C A T S Cats, Cats Cats!

Kentucky vs South Carolina.......A Preview

Lwcat
WT Administrator

Kentucky vs South Carolina 1/26/10 Tuesday at 9PM (ESPN)

South Carolina

Location-Columbia, SC
Enrollment-25,077
Arena-18,000

Head Coach-Darrin Horn
Career Record-132-58- (69.5%) 6 seasons
At South Carolina-21-10 (67.7%) 1 season

2008-09 Record-21-10
2008-09 SEC Record-10-6
2008-09 Postseason-0-1 NIT-1st Round

2009-10 Record-11-8
2009-10 SEC Record-2-3

South Carolina 88 Alabama A&M 50
South Carolina 90 Georgia Southern 66
South Carolina 78 LaSalle 68
South Carolina 69 South Florida 66
Miami, Fl. 85 South Carolina 70
South Carolina 97 Jacksonville 93
South Carolina 74 Western Ky. 56
Clemson 72 South Carolina 61
South Carolina 76 Richmond 58
Wofford 68 South Carolina 61
South Carolina 81 Furman 57
Boston College 85 South Carolina 76
Baylor 85 South Carolina 74
South Carolina 88 Longwood 58
South Carolina 80 Auburn 71
South Carolina 67 LSU 58
Vanderbilt 89 South Carolina 79
Ole Miss 66 South Carolina57
Florida 58 South Carolina 56

South Carolina Stats / UK Stats

PPG-74.8 / 83.2
FG%-43.1% / 49.8%
3 Point%-33.9% / 38.1%
FT%-63.8% / 68.6%
Rebounds-36.0 / 42.2
Assists-10.3 / 16.3
TO’s-13.3 / 15.1
Steals-9.5 / 7.4
Blocks-7.1 / 7.3

Probable Starting Lineup

Lakeem Jackson F-6’5” Fr. (PPG-7.0)
Evaldas Baniulis F-6’7” Sr. (PPG-3.3)
Sam Muldrow F 6’9” Jr. (PPG-9.2)
Devan Downey G-5’9”” Sr. (PPG-21.9)
Brandis Raley-Ross G 6’2” Sr. (PPG-10.1)

Other Key Players

Ramon Galloway G-6’2” Fr. (PPG-8.0)
Stephen Spinella G-6’5” Fr. (PPG-1.7)
Austin Steed F-6’8” Jr. (PPG-3.6)
Johndre Jefferson F-6’9” Jr. (PPG-2.8)

South Carolina after winning it’s first two SEC games has now dropped 3 in a row. The Gamecocks lost Sr. 6’7” Dominique Archie to a season ending injury. Archie was the team’s 2nd leading scorer and leading rebounder. In addition, 6’7” Mike Holmes has been dismissed from the team…..Holmes was averaging 9.4 points per game. South Carolina is led in scoring by Devan Downey who leads the SEC in scoring..…at 21.9 PPG. Downey is a senior who has lighting speed and has been a terrific scorer throughout his career at South Carolina. Guard Raley-Ross is the only other Gamecock in double figures aside from Downey. The Gamecocks are primarily a guard oriented team with most of the scoring coming from the backcourt. The most effective frontcourt player is Muldrow who is leading the team in rebounds while averaging 9.2 PPG. Overall, South Carolina has a weak frontline after losing Archie and Holmes. The Gamecocks have taken a lot of 3 point attempts…407 so far this season….an average of 21 per game. Guards Downey, Raley-Ross and Galloway have taken most of the 3 point shots…..Raley-Ross hitting a very good 42.7% and Downey 34.8%.

South Carolina is not a good rebounding team and their free throw shooting is a dismal 63.8%. Still the Gamecocks can be a dangerous team playing at home….and particularly if their 3 pointers are dropping.

Kentucky arrives in Columbia after playing their best game this season in destroying Arkansas. In fact, the first half play by the Cats has to rank among the best half’s in UK history! The Cats were hitting on all cylinders and played tremendous defense overall and especially on the perimeter where they completely stopped Clarke from being a factor.

It was great to see Darius Miller have his best game of the year hitting 4 -3 pointers and definitely being much more aggressive on the floor. Wall and Bledsoe had 13 assists between them….Cousins had a great game with 16 points and 14 rebounds. Lots of players off the bench contributed and got playing time….certainly, Liggins helped his cause with another high energy performance on defense. Terrific game by the Cats as they look forward to be ranked #1 in the nation. A ranking well deserved!

Now the hard part….staying number 1…..staying undefeated. There are a multitude of tough SEC games facing UK….particularly those on the road.

While the Cats will be a solid favorite over South Carolina, the Gamecocks will most certainly bring their A game. It will be very important for UK’s perimeter defense to remain excellent.

I see a 12 point win over South Carolina….GO CATS!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Kentucky vs Arkansas......A Preview

Lwcat
WT Administrator

Kentucky vs Arkansas……A Preview 1/23/10
Saturday at 4PMEST/3PMCST(SEC Network)

Arkansas

Location-Fayetteville, Ark.
Enrollment-19,191
Arena-19,200

Head Coach-John Pelphrey
Career Record-117-95 (55.2%) 7 seasons
At Arkansas-37-28 (56.9%) 2 seasons

2008-09 Record-14-16
2008-09 SEC Record-2-14
2008-09 Postseason-None

2009-10 Record-8-10
2009-10 SEC Record-1-2

Arkansas 130 Alcorn St. 68
Louisville 96 Arkansas 66
Arkansas 81 Appalachian St. 72 (OT)
Morgan St. 97 Arkansas 94
East Tennessee St. 94 Arkansas 85
S. Alabama 74 Arkansas 61
Oklahoma 67 Arkansas 47
Arkansas 91 Miss. Valley St. 54
Arkansas 71 Delaware St. 53
Arkansas 76 Alabama St. 51
Arkansas 72 Stephen F. Austin 69
Arkansas 66 Missouri St. 62 (OT)
Baylor 70 Arkansas 47
UAB 73 Arkansas 72
Texas 96 Arkansas 85
Mississippi St. 82 Arkansas 80
Arkansas 71 Alabama 59
Florida 71 Arkansas 66

Arkansas Stats / UK Stats

PPG-75.6 / 82.2
FG%-46.2% / 50.0%
3 Point%-36.8% / 39.0%
FT%-66.7% / 68.6%
Rebounds-34.4 / 41.3
Assists-15.0 / 16.2
TO’s-13.5 / 15.1
Steals-6.7 / 7.3
Blocks-4.2 / 7.2

Probable Starting Lineup

Marshawn Powell F-6’7” Fr. (PPG-15.8)
Michael Washington F-6’9” Sr.. (PPG-13.5)
Marcus Britt G-6’3” Jr.. (PPG-4.3)
Rotnei Clarke G-6’0” So. (PPG-18.3)
Courtney Fortson G-5’11” So.. (PPG-16.3)

Other Key Players

Jemal Farmer G/F-6’5” Jr. (PPG-7.9)
Delvon Johnson F-6’9” Jr.. (PPG-3.4)
Stefan Welsh G-6’3” Jr. (PPG-6.1)

A quick look at Arkansas’s 8-10 record….with early season losses to the likes of Morgan St. , East Tennessee St. and S Alabama….. would lead one to believe that the Razorbacks are not a good team, but this record is deceiving….because coach Pelphrey was forced to discipline several players early this season and only reinstated his lighting quick PG, Courtney Fortson, 4 games ago. Fortson returned for the Texas game and Arkansas played the Longhorns very tough as they were tied 48-48 at the half and lost by 11 points. A look at the stats revealed that Texas shot 58.8% against Arkansas and still struggled to win. Fortson scored 19 points in his first return to the lineup….along with Clarke’s 24 points and 4-3 pointers. The Hogs then lost to a solid Mississippi St. team at Starkville by only 2 points…..then defeated Alabama by 12 points…..and Thursday night the Hogs lost a close game to Florida with Fortson handing out 11 assists and Clarke hitting 5-3 point shots.

The Razorbacks have 4 starters scoring 13 points or more PG….led by Clarke’s 18.3 and Fortson’s 16.3 PG. Clarke is shooting 50.8% from the field and a blistering 49.3% from the perimeter. In fact, Clark has taken 68% of his shots from the perimeter and is one of the very best long range shooters in college basketball. Fortson’s brings great quickness to the Hogs lineup and averages 8.2 assists per game, however, he has a problem with getting out of control and is averaging 5.0 TO’s PG. Fortson has been a challenge for coach Pelphrey as Fortson has too often taken bad shots and made bad decisions on the court in the past..…..but, when playing smart and under control….Fortson is a solid PG and not easy to defend. There is no question that Fortson makes Arkansas a better team when he is on the court as he is Pelphrey’s only true PG.

The Hogs are led in rebounding and blocks by Powell and Washington who are both scoring in double figures. These two players give Arkansas solid play in the paint.

This Arkansas team, now at full strength, is playing their best basketball of the season. The Hogs are averaging 17.5 –3 point shots PG with Clarke accounting for 42.5% of those perimeter shots. While the Razorbacks can be a dangerous team from the perimeter, especially with Clarke, they do have scoring balance….and can score inside the paint as well.

John Pelphrey, a beloved Wildcat from the Unforgettables, will be warmly welcomed in Rupp Arena, but….you can count on Pelphrey having the Hogs sky high to attempt an upset.

The Wildcats enter the Arkansas game as the only undefeated team in America…..knowing that a win over the Razorbacks will give the Cats the #1 ranking in college basketball. Unquestionably, few if anyone expected this young UK team to be undefeated with an 18-0 record…..it is a remarkable achievement. However, these super talented Cats still have a lot to improve on if they want to remain undefeated. UK is having great difficulty holding big leads and struggled at home against Georgia….blew a huge lead at Florida before winning…..and at Auburn….the Cats let the Tigers overcome a 19 point deficit to tie UK in the 2nd half. The Cats barely won by 5 points. Coach Calipari knows that this UK team, despite their great talent and undefeated record, is living on the edge.

A look at the Auburn game stats is very revealing. Amazingly, Auburn had 17 more shots than the Cats….3 more FG….4 more 3-pointers….4 fewer TO’s….10 steals…..and only 5 fewer rebounds. The Cats had 16 TO’s (7 by Wall)….hit only 13-25 FT……Cousins and Patterson only got 6 shots each for the game and Patterson never got a single shot in the 2nd half. With those kind of stats, it’s a wonder that UK was able to win the game!

It’s obvious that this Kentucky team must do a better job getting the ball inside the paint to Cousins and Patterson…..Wall and Bledsoe must make better decisions and minimize their TO’s……the Cats must improve their defense especially on the perimeter…..free throw shooting must improve…..everyone needs to step up their game intensity and stop allowing teams to run off 10-15 points runs. Obviously, UK will be playing much tougher SEC opponents than Georgia and Auburn….and they will lose if they don’t make the necessary improvements offensively and defensively.

Coach Calipari knows that this incredibly talented UK team has a golden opportunity to make the NCAA Final Four and even win a championship…..but, they must play smart….not play out of control….and execute not only against the man to man….but significantly improve their execution against the various zones they will face. In short, it’s the mental part of the game that these young talented players need to master!

A great place to start after a week of practice is to correct some of these issues and demonstrate improvement offensively and defensively by playing a solid game against the Hogs and ring up #19 win. I see a 10 point UK win over the Razorbacks. GO CATS!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Brandon Knight Assessment

UKFreak00
WT Member

I had the chance to see Brandon Knight up close and personal yesterday at the Flyin' to the Hoop tournament. Here's my thoughts.

First off, let me say that I think the Pine Crest coach needs to step down. I don't know if I've ever seen such a poorly coached top team in my life.

When I first started watching the game, I was thinking to myself, "Man, I'm not impressed with Knight". But, that feeling didn't last long.

After the first few minutes, I noticed that the things I didn't like about Knights game were mainly due to poor coaching.

I thought, "Knight does not move well without the ball". Then I noticed, no one on that team moves without the ball. Because their entire offense is 2 guards around the perimeter, 2 guys on the blocks, and a guy at the free throw line.

Every time down the court, guard Traveon Henry would bring the ball up the court, dribble to the right, Knight would be on the left wing, and dump it down to the free throw line. The guy at the free throw line would then either take the 15 footer, kick it back out for the 3, or try to get it down low.

No one on the team moved without the ball, so I could not really assess if Knight doesn't move well without the ball, or if he's basically just not allowed to.

Speaking of Traveon Henry, keep an eye out for this kid. He's probably not going to be a major D1 player, but I can see him ending up somewhere like Dayton, and doing a good job. He's only a sophomore, but I liked what I saw from him, too. I can't find anything on his college offers or anything, though.

But, here's what I did like about Brandon Knight. First off, he's flat out a scorer. He's a threat to score from anywhere on the court. He can drive, he can shoot the midrange jumper, he shoots the 3 very well.

Knight actually finished the game yesterday as the 3rd leading scorer in the history of the Flyin' to the Hoop, with 39 points.

He does need to improve on a few things, however. He plays out of control at times. When he drives to the basket, he would rather throw up a circus shot than to dump it off to one of the big men down low. He did that multiple times yesterday.

He also tries to make the "highlight pass" when it's not needed. He turned the ball over way too much yesterday. And most of them were passes that either should have never been made, or were easy passes, that he tried to make difficult. At times he looked like wanted to be playing on the "And-1" circuit instead of D1 college basketball.

One thing he does not lack is confidence in his jumpshot. He started off the game missing his first 2 or 3 shots from outside, but he just kept shooting until they started to fall.

On the defensive end, he plays very tough, physical defense on the perimeter. I don't think a player he was guarding the entire game got off an open jumpshot. Even in a 39 point performance, I was more impressed with Knight on the defensive end, than I was on the offensive end.

Not only did Knight play outstanding defense on the perimeter, but he was not afraid to step in the lane and take a charge. He took 2 charges from Michigan State recruit Adrien Payne, and should have had a 3rd, but they called it a block (a bad call, in my opinion).

I talked to a fellow UK fan after the game, and he was talking about the 39 points, and I said "Yeah, but how about that defense", and he looked at me like "He plays defense?". If you ever get the chance to watch Knight play, don't let his offensive game blind you from how good he is on the defensive end of the court.

Overall, I really like Knight, but I don't think he's a 1 and done player. I think Knight is a kid that could come in and start as a freshman, but will have his struggles, and end up being a 2 or 3 year player.

I don't like doing this, because it's hard to compare one players game to another players game. But, if I had to say who's game Knight's reminds me of. I would probably say Mo Williams from the Cavs.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Kentucky vs Auburn......A Preview

Lwcat
Administrator

Kentucky vs Auburn
(1/16/10 Saturday at 4PMEST/3PMCST - SEC Network)

Auburn

Location-Auburn, Ala.
Enrollment-23,547
Arena-10,500

Head Coach-Jeff Lebo
Career Record-196-139 (58.5%) 11 seasons
At Auburn-81-46 (51.6%) 5 seasons

2008-09 Record-24-12
2008-09 SEC Record-10-6
2008-09 Postseason-NIT-2-1

2009-10 Record-9-8

Auburn 69 Niagara 65
Missouri St. 73 Auburn 62
Central Florida 84 Auburn 74
Auburn 80 IUPUI 65
North Carolina St. 60 Auburn 58
Auburn 75 High Point 54
Auburn 87 Alabama A&M 52
Troy 81 Auburn 77
Auburn 68 Virginia 67
Florida St. 76 Auburn 72
Sam Houston St. 107 Auburn 89
Auburn 94 Alabama St. 78
Auburn 77 Charleston Southern 62
Auburn 95 Georgia Southern 75
Auburn 96 West Georgia 72
South Carolina 80 Auburn 71
Tennessee 81 Auburn 55

Auburn Stats / UK Stats

PPG-76.4 / 82.8
FG%-45.0% / 49.9%
3 Point%-31.9% / 39.1%
FT%-64.1% / 68.9%
Rebounds-36.5 / 41.7
Assists-14.1 / 16.4
TO’s-15.2 / 15.1
Steals-9.0 / 7.4
Blocks-2.6 / 7.2

Probable Starting Lineup

Lucas Hargrove F-6’6” Sr. (PPG-13.1)
Johnnie Lett F-6’8” Sr. (PPG-2.1)
DeWayne Reed G- 6’1’ Sr..(PPG-16.1)
Frankie Sullivan G-6’1” So. (PPG-13.6)
Tay Waller G 6’2” Sr. (PPG-12.3)

Other Key Players

Brendon Knox C-6’10” Sr. (PPG-8.9)
Kenny Gabriel F-6’8” So. (PPG-2.8)
Josh Wallace G-5’10” Fr. (PPG-1.4)

The Auburn Tigers, sporting an early 0-2 SEC record after a crushing loss to Tennessee, host the #2 ranked Kentucky Wildcats. Jeff Lebo’s Tigers are only 9-8 for the season with some very bad losses, such as losses to the likes of Missouri St., Central Florida and Troy. Auburn’s only good win is a one point victory over Virginia. Auburn’s pre conference schedule was embarrassingly weak….and it is even a question mark whether Auburn can even make it back to the NIT. To accomplish that, the Tigers are going to have to start winning some SEC games….a lot of them.

Unfortunately, Auburn lost three very good starters off last year’s 24 win season…..starters…Korvotney Barber, Rasheem Barrett and Quantez Robertson.
It is obvious that, so far, the Tigers have struggled to replace those starters. Still, Auburn starts four seniors and have three starters scoring at least 13 points per game.

It would be a serious mistake to think these Tigers don’t still have a bite….especially at home where their record is 7-3. Importantly, despite the bad losses….Auburn, in addition to defeating Virginia, came very close to winning over N.C. St. and Florida St. It appears that Auburn plays a lot better against tough opponents and plays down to lesser opponents.

Although DeWayne Reed leads the Tigers in scoring at 15.9 PG….he is only shooting 41.4% from the field. However, starters…Hargrove and Waller are shooting 50.3% and 48.9% respectively from the field. Both Waller and Sullivan are shooting a solid 38% from the perimeter. Hargrove is Auburn’s leading rebounder with 7.3 PG….while Reed leads the team in assists at 4.7 PG.

Kentucky is coming off a terrific win in Gainesville, where the Cats defeated a solid Florida team that rarely losses at home. There were a number of highlights from the Florida game. First and foremost is that this young UK team has a world of confidence and moxie….they are not intimidated by any team or any hostile crowd. While Florida was paying a lot of attention to John Wall….he still got 19 points and had 6 assists. However, Eric Bledsoe took the honors in scoring and great play with 25 points, 3 steals and 7 rebounds. Unquestionably, Wall and Bledsoe make up a great backcourt…..very likely the best in UK’s great history. Although, Orton still struggles a bit with his offense, he played some terrific defense with 9 rebounds and 4 blocks in just 17 minutes. It was great to see Darius Miller step up with a solid game…9 points….4 rebounds….2 assists and zero TO’s. In addition, Dodson came off the bench and hit 2 very important 3 pointers. Liggins who has played very well in the past few games….had an off game with 2 TO’s in short order….but, look for him to bounce back in the Auburn game. Patterson was solid as always….including a very key basket when the score was tied 72-72. Although, it wasn’t a great game for Cousins, he still hit double figures.

UK’s starting lineup will likely remain the same…although, the 3 position with Miller….will be juggled at times depending on whether the situation calls for offense or defense….and fortunately coach Calipari can go to Liggins, Dodson or Harris….all very good players.

Kudo’s to the tremendous coaching job that coach Calipari has done with this young inexperienced team. He always seems to know just when to make the right adjustment in players on the court.

The Cats will bring their 17-0 record into Auburn and will need to continue to play tough defense….especially defending the 3 point shot….as Auburn averages 25- 3 point shots per game and shot 35 last night against the Vols. No road game in the SEC is easy and I look for an Auburn team bringing their A game….plus, undoubtedly, the best home crowd of the year for Auburn. Also, I expect coach Calipari to continue to push the right buttons to ensure that these Cats don’t overlook any SEC opponent. I see a UK victory by 15 points. GO CATS!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Kentucky vs Florida......A Preview

Lwcat
WT Administrator

Kentucky vs Florida……A Preview
(1/12/10-Tuesday at 9PMEST/8PMCST)
TV-ESPN

Florida

Location-Gainesville
Enrollment-51,520
Arena-12,000

Head Coach-Billy Donovan
Career Record-345-146 (70.3%) 15 seasons
At Florida-310-126 (71.1%) 13 seasons

2008-09 Record-25-11
2008-09 SEC Record-9-7
2008-09 Postseason-NIT-1-1

2009-10 Record-11-4

Florida 74 Stetson 46
Florida 69 Georgia Southern 49
Florida 80 Troy 58
Florida 68 Florida State 52
Florida 77 Michigan St. 74
Florida 73 Rutgers 58
Florida 80 Florida A&M 59
Florida 85 Jacksonville 67
Syracuse 85 Florida 73
Richmond 56 Florida 53
South Alabama 67 Florida 66
Florida 76 American U. 60
Florida 79 Presbyterian 38
Florida 62 NC St. 61 (ot)
Vanderbilt 95 Florida 87

Florida Stats / UK Stats

PPG-73.5 / 82.4
FG%-44.5% / 49.8%
3 Point FG%-30.9% / 39.1%
FT%-70.4% / 68.6%
Rebounds-38.5 / 41.7
Assists-15.0 / 16.6
TO’s-13.1 / 15.4
Steals-8.0 / 7.5
Blocks-3.1 / 7.3

Probable Starting Lineup

Dan Werner F-6’8” Sr. (PPG-6.6)
Ales Tyus F-6’8” Soph (PPG-11.7)
Vernon Macklin C-6’10” Jr. (PPG-10.0)
Erving Walker G-5’8” Soph (PPG-11.5)
Kenny Boynton G-6’2” Fr. (PPG-14.6)

Other Key Players

Chandler Parsons F-6’9” Jr. (PPG-11.2)
Erik Murphy F-6’9” Fr. (PPG-4.4)
Ray Shipman G/F 6’5” Soph (PPG-3.4)

After winning two straight NCAA championship, Billy Donovan and the Gators have struggled the past two season with two NIT appearances. Unfortunately for Donovan, just when things looked more positive for the Florida basketball program……star PG Nick Calathes left for Greece to play basketball. Still, Florida does return good talent and experience in Parsons, Werner and Tyus….all frontline players. Importantly, Georgetown transfer Vernon Macklin is now eligible and playing the pivot for the Gators. Walker and Boynton hold down the guard positions and while both have talent and can score….neither begins to approach the talent of PG Calathes who left.

Florida has 5 players in double figures led by freshman Boynton’s 14.6 PPG. Tyus and Parsons are the leading rebounders…..both averaging 6.5 rebounds PG. Walker leads the team in assists with 5 per game.

Florida is averaging 21- 3 point attempts per game compared to 16 for the UK. Thus, the Gators often depend a great deal on their perimeter shooting…..which, unfortunately, has been 31% as a team…..although, Parsons and Werner have shot 38% and 35% respectfully from long range. Thus far, it’s the Florida inside game that has often been a weakness from both scoring and rebounds.

Florida did start this season on a very positive note with 8 straight victories….before losing to highly ranked Syracuse. The Gators lost to Richmond which was not as bad a loss as it appears…..since Richmond is 12-5 with wins over Mississippi St. and Missouri. In addition, Florida lost by a point to South Alabama…..but South Alabama is 11-6 and has defeated Arkansas as well. Lastly, the Gators suffered a loss to Vandy in their opening SEC game, but, as everyone knows, defeating Vandy in Nashville is never easy.

Florida is always tough in Gainesville and UK will draw, as always, a packed house of routy reptiles cheering for their Gators. If Florida is hot from the perimeter, they will be very tough to defeat in Gainesville.

Kentucky arrives in Gainesville after a very tough win over a vastly improving Georgia team. The Cats generally played good defense, but struggled offensively in scoring and for the 2nd straight game….UK was only 2-14 from the perimeter. The Georgia zone was very effective as UK simply couldn’t score from the outside, The Cats did force 26 Bulldog TO’s and did get some good inside scoring from Cousins and Patterson. On a very positive note, DeAndre Liggins played a terrific game with superb defense, 3 steals, zero TO’s and 6 points. Liggins has brought a new positive attitude to his play and he is no longer the out of control player with an attitude problem. Instead, Liggins is now making a serious challenge for increased playing time at the 3 position. Miller continues to be inconsistent….Dodson is 0-8 from the perimeter in the last two games and Harris, while playing solid defense, has made some unfortunate TO’s at key times. Coach Calipari is looking for one of these four players to step up with consistent play offensively and defensively….and sieze the starting position and most of the minutes. Otherwise, the 3 position will be handled by committee.

It is obvious, that UK will see more and more zone defenses and it is critical that the players execute much better offensively in getting inside the zone for open shots…… and, of course, the Cats must significantly improve their perimeter shooting. The Georgia game was certainly a wakeup call for these young Cats…..SEC teams could care less about where UK is ranked….they will do everything possible to exploit any UK weakness.

It will be very important for the Cats to minimize TO’s against the Gators and get the ball inside to Cousins and Patterson where Florida has been weak at times. In addition, it will be critical to defend the perimeter against a Gator team that loves the 3 point shot.

The Florida Gators, who defeated a very good Michigan St. team earlier this season, will likely be UK’s toughest game thus far. Unquestionably, the Cats are the most talented team, but, all too often, the most talent doesn’t always equal a victory. Instead, it’s the team that plays hard and smart….and effectively executes the game plan.

I see a very close game in Gainesville….with the 3 point shot playing a critical role in who wins. UK must minimize Florida’s success from long range while significantly improving it’s own 3 point shooting. If the Cats play tough hardnose defense while shooting a good percentage from the field…..UK should be 17-0 as they leave sunny, but cold Florida. UK wins by 3-5 points. GO CATS!

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Kentucky vs Georgia.......A Preview

Lwcat
WT Administrator

Kentucky vs Georgia…A Preview
(1/9/10-Saturday at 4PM on The SEC Network)

Location-Athens,Ga.
Enrollment-33,900
Arena-10,523

Head Coach- Mark Fox
Career Record-123-43 (74.1%) 5 seasons
First season at Georgia

2008-09 Record-12-20
2008-09 SEC Record-3-13
2008-09-Postseason-None

2009-2010 Record-8-5

Georgia 67 New Orleans 59
Wofford 60 Georgia 57
UAB 72 Georgia 56
Georgia 79 UNC Asheville 58
Georgia 67 Jacksonville St. 64
Georgia 64 St Louis 56
Virginia Tech 74 Georgia 62
St. John’s 66 Georgia 56
Georgia 70 Illinois 67
Georgia 77 Florida Atlantic 60
Georgia 64 Pepperdine 47
Missouri 89 Georgia 61
Georgia 73 Georgia Tech 66

Georgia Stats / UK Stats

PPG-65.6 / 82.8
FG%-44.2% / 50.2%
3 Point FG%-33.8% / 40.6%
FT%-71.7% / 68.8%
Rebounds-35.3 / 42.3
Assists-12.2 / 17.1
TO’s-14.7 / 15.5
Steals-6.8 / 7.2
Blocks-5.6 / 7.5

Probable Starting Lineup

Trey Thompkins F-6’9” So. (PPG-16.2)
Albert Jackson F/C-6’11” Sr. (PPG-3.6)
Travis Leslie G-6’4” So. (PPG-12.8)
Dustin Ware G-5’11” So. (PPG-8.2)
Ricky McPhee G-6’1” Sr. (PPG-9.3)

Other Key Players

Jeremy Price F-6’8” Jr. (PPG-6.6)
Chris Barnes F-6’8” Jr. (PPG-3.5)
Ebuka Anyaorah G-6’4” Fr. (PPG-2.6)

New coach Mark Fox takes over a struggling Georgia team after 5 very successful seasons at Nevada where he won 123 games and at least 21 per season. Fox has his work cut for him as during the past 5 seasons….the Bulldogs have a 71-86 record including a dismal 22-58 in the SEC. Importantly, Georgia has won 4 of the past 5 games with wins over Illinois and 17 ranked Georgia Tech. Obviously, this Bulldog team has developed a bite and can be dangerous.

Georgia is led in scoring and rebounding by Soph Trey Thompkins at 16.2 per game and 8.0 rebounds PG. Soph Travis Leslie is the team’s second leading scorer and rebounder. Ricky McPhee is the Bulldogs top 3 point shooter hitting 41.3%..... while Dustin Ware leads the Bulldogs in assists. Certainly, 6’9” Thompkson and 6’11” Jackson give Georgia some frontline size, but the other 3 starters are not big for their position…..however, the Bulldogs can bring two 6’8” subs off the bench. Overall, Georgia has a starting lineup with two seniors and and three sophs so they will be a bit more experienced than the Cats.
Thus far, new coach Mark Fox has brought a new winning attitude to Georgia….an attitude based on previous success at Nevada…..and so far….the Bulldogs are playing much better than last season.

Kentucky faces Georgia with a 15-0 record and fresh off a very hard fought win over arch rival Louisville. The Louisville game started like a rumble at Rupp with tempers flailing and a rash of early fouls. Overall, it was an ugly game, but the Cats prevailed with a number of key plays….especially from John Wall when the Cards had tied the score in the 2nd half. UK played some very solid defense, especially in the first half. However, poor perimeter shooting and far too many TO’s prevented the Cats from defeating Louisville far worse.

This week, Coach Calipari has practiced the team hard….2-3 practices a day in an effort to improve in all facets of the game. Thus, this is a very important week for UK to iron out their mistakes and show significant improvement offensively and defensively.

The Cats open their SEC season against an improved Georgia team. UK will undoubtedly be favorites in each and every SEC game, but no SEC team is going to lay down for the Cats. Instead, they will bring their A game! Any team, like Georgia, that defeats a top 20 team….such as Georgia Tech…..needs to be respected. I look for the Cats to be firing on all cylinders….and defeat the Bulldogs by 10-15 points. GO CATS!