Thursday, December 19, 2013

Kentucky vs Belmont....A Preview

Kentucky vs Belmont 12/21/13 Saturday 12 Noon (ESPNU)
First Meeting

Belmont Bruins (Ohio Valley Conference)

Location: Nashville, Tenn.
Enrollment: 6,665
Arena: 5,000

Head Coach: Rick Byrd
Career Record: 663-346 (65.7%) 32 Seasons
At Belmont: 571-291 ( 66.2%) 27 Seasons

2012-13 Record: 26-7
2012-13 OVC Record: 14-2
2012-13 Postseason: NCAA (lost to Arizona in 2nd round)

2013-14 Record: 8-4

Belmont 87 Lipscomb 83
Richmond 69 Belmont 61
Belmont 96 Indiana St. 95
Belmont 83 North Carolina 80
Belmont 94 Lipscomb 64
Belmont 81 Holy Cross 70
Belmont 85 Hofstra 75
Belmont 102 Brescia 68
VCU 81 Belmont 68
Belmont 70 Middle Tennessee St. 58
South Dakota St. 85 Belmont 72
Denver 90 Belmont 62

Belmont Stats:

PPG-80.1
FG%-49.2%
3 PT%-38.3% (8.8 PG)
FT%-72.7%
RPG-32.3 (-0.3)
APG-15.8
TPG-14.2
SPG-7.5
BPG-2.3

Probable Starting Lineup:

Blake Jenkins-F 6’7” Sr………………………..8.6 PPG
Drew Windler-F 6’9” Sr……………………….12.6 PPG
J.J. Mann-G/F 6’6” Sr………………………...18.7 PPG
Craig Bradshaw-G 6’3” Soph………………...12.0 PPG
Caleb Chowbay-G 6’2” Fr…………………….5.6 PPG

Other Key Players:

Nick Smith-F 6’8” Fr………………………….4.0 PPG
Jeff Laidig-G 6’4” Soph……………………….1.5 PPG
Holden Mobley-G 6’3” Jr……………………..1.3 PPG

Belmont is a mid major that has had a lot of success over the past 10 years. The Bruins have made the NCAA in 6 of the last 8 years and have had eight 20-win seasons in the last 10 years. They have a veteran coach in Rick Byrd who has a terrific 663 wins in his 32 year career.

Belmont has made the second most three pointers in the nation since the 1996-97 season and has ranked in the top 10 nationally in three point percentage 11 times in the past 15 seasons. Thus far this season, the Bruins are averaging 23 perimeter shots per game and making 9 PG for an excellent 38.3%.

J.J. Mann is the leading scorer and also leads in rebounds and steals. Drew Windler is hitting an incredible 58.3% from lost range making 48-139 shots while Craig Bradshaw is close behind hitting an amazing 48.6% making 35-120 shots. In the North Carolina win….the Bruins hit 15 three’s and made 20-22 FT’s.

Any team that can hit three’s like Belmont is going to be a dangerous opponent for anyone! Belmont just lost badly to Denver and they only hit 4-19 perimeter shots….but, they are obviously capable of making a lot of 3’s as they have shown this season.

UK Stats:

PPG-80.5
FG%-47.5%
3 PT%-32.6% (5.2 PG)
FT%-67.0%)
RPG-44.3 (+12.4)
APG-12.5
TPG-13.5
SPG-4.3
BPG-7.7

UK returns to Rupp A
rena after losing in the Dean Dome to North Carolina. There was obvious disappointment in losing to the Tarheels following loses to other ranked teams in Michigan St. and Baylor this season. Since the NCAA championship, the Cats have defeated only one ranked team….and that was Florida last season.

It has become very apparent that this UK team was over hyped and over rated starting the season….and now the Cats have fallen to #19 and #21 in the polls. Despite the drop in the polls, this team does have talent….and there is plenty of time to start a winning streak and climb back up in the polls.

Importantly, UK has had a whole week to practice and improve all facets of their game as they face Belmont. There are a host of issues that these young Cats need to improve on….starting with significantly cutting turnovers….for the season UK has 30 more turnovers then the competition….the last two games the Cats committed 19 turnovers in the win over Boise St. and 17 turnovers in the loss to North Carolina. The overwhelming majority of turnovers have been unforced….occurring with very poor passing and decision making.

Free throws have been a big problem in all 3 loses to ranked teams…..UK shot 20-36 for a terrible 55.6% in the Michigan St. loss…..12-23 for a horrible 55.2% in the Baylor loss…..and 29-43 for 67.4% in the North Carolina loss…with several key FT misses occurring late in the game.

Certainly, UK needs to improve it’s offense and defense and hopefully that will occur this week. The Cats better guard the perimeter against Belmont or they could have a difficult win. I see UK bouncing back from the North Carolina loss and handing Belmont a 20 point defeat. GO CATS!

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