Saturday, December 29, 2012

Kentucky 82 - 54 Marshall (No. 2,098)

I did not see any part of this game, as I was busily driving back to the Home Base in western Kentucky.    But as far as I can tell, it was typical of the way the Cats have played during this four-game winning streak.  They played solid defense -- Ken Pomeroy now has UK as the 8th-most efficient defense in the country.  They did OK on the boards -- they out-rebounded Marshall 48-43.  And they struggled with their outside shooting -- the Cats made only 3-17 from beyond the arc, and they now rank 97th in the country with a three-point shooting percentage of only 35.6 percent.  Given that they only make 64.7 percent of their free throws (good for 276th in the country), it's clear that they have some major problems on offense.

Tomorrow, of course, the Cats travel to the Yum! Center to take on the Louisville Cardinals.  I remember thinking two years ago -- the last time UK made this trip -- that U of L had rarely been more desperate to beat the Cats.  Now, after three more UK victories -- including one in the Final Four -- that desperation has reached extraordinary levels.  U of L has all the advantages in this game:  they are experienced, they are at home, they are highly ranked, and the Cats are not ranked at all.  Vegas has made Louisville an 8-point favorite, and that is almost never the case when these two teams play.  If the Cardinals cannot beat UK this year, the folks on Planet Red will be greatly discouraged.

Ken Pomeroy likes Louisville to win by 71-61, although he gives the Cats an 18 percent chance of pulling the upset.  Personally, I think if the Cats can avoid turnovers, and thereby force the Cardinals to rely on their half-court offense, they could really put the pressure on U of L.  The Cards make only 33.1 percent of their three-point attempts, and if they are stuck in a low-scoring game with 10 minutes to go, the pressure on them could become overwhelming.  On the other hand, if the Cardinals can get turnovers -- or get hot from the outside -- or do anything that lets them build a decent lead, this game could get ugly.  One thing is for sure:  if UK puts on a performance that looks anything like they did against Notre Dame or Baylor, they could get embarrassed, because Pitino will show them no mercy.

Of course, whatever happens, we will be looking at the bigger picture.  For now, Pomeroy thinks UK is the 13th-best team in the country, which should translate into a trip to the Sweet 16.  We'll see if tomorrow changes his mind.

1 comment:

  1. I thought Louisville looked like the best team I've seen this year, and I thought Calipari discovered a very interesting starting lineup in Harrow-Mays-Goodwin-CauleyStein-Noel.