Kentucky vs. Morehead State -- Pre-game Analysis

Tonight, Kentucky takes on the Eagles of Morehead State, a Kentucky college.  Like most Kentucky colleges, the Eagles have had some success in the basketball arena over the years, and last year made it to the NCAA tournament where they nearly knocked off the #1 seeded Louisville Cardinals.  This is the season opener for the Wildcats, and as such is a very significant game.

Kentucky has had shocking failures early in the season in recent history.  Last year, UK lost to Virginia Military Institute 111-103 in its season opener.  The year before that, UK won the season opener only to lose its second game to Gardner-Webb (then affectionately known as "Gardener-Who?") 88-64 in a contest that wasn't even that close.

But Tubby Smith had a few tough years with early games, too.  In 2001-02, Kentucky narrowly defeated exhibition opponent Athletes in Action, 88-83, in overtime, then went on to lose its season opener to Western Kentucky, 64-52.  In 2000-01, Kentucky lost it's first two games of the season versus St. Johns and UCLA in the Coaches Vs. Cancer tournament.

As you can see, slow starts are not unknown to the Wildcats in the new millennium.

But tonight marks a new era in Kentucky basketball, and despite some trepidation about facing a team that made the NCAA tournament last year and who boasts one of the best rebounders in college basketball in Kenneth Faried, Kentucky comes into this game loaded with size, speed, talent, and an aggressive new offense and defense.  This is Kentucky as it has not been since the late Pitino years.

A look at the Morehead State Eagles

Here is the roster for Morehead State:


No. Name Pos. Ht. Wt. Year Hometown High School Notes
1 Maze Stallworth F 6-4 215 Sr. Elizabethtown, Ky. John Hardin HS  Role player last year, good ballhandler and 3pt. shooter (.380).  3rd leading scorer (12ppg)
2 Jamel Marshall F 6-5 225 Fr. Orlando, Fla. Olympia HS  
3 Aaron Williams G 5-10 175 R-Fr. Lousiville, Ky. Dupont Manual HS  
5 Rashad Hosea G 6-3 185 So. Detroit, Mich. Cody HS  Not on roster last year.
10 Corey Clemens G 6-2 175 Fr. New Castle, Ind. New Castle Chrysler HS  
11 Terrance Hill G 6-1 170 So. Columbus, Ga. Jordan HS Role player last year, not a 3pt. threat.
13 Ty Proffitt G 6-4 200 So. London, Ky. South Laurel HS Transf. from Notre Dame.  Saw limited action with Irish, may be a good 3 pt. shooter.
15 Brandon Shingles G 6-3 175 Sr. Albany, Ga. Westover HS Transf. from Abraham Baldwin (Ga.) CC
22 Demonte Harper G 6-4 185 Jr. Nashville, Tenn. Whites Creek HS Significant contributor last year, average 3pt shooter, good rebounder.
23 David Terrell F 6-5 225 Jr. Houston, Tex. Worthing HS Transf. from Midland CC
24 Steve Peterson F 6-5 190 So. Columbus, Ga. Jordan HS  Limited role player last year, not a scoring threat.
25 John Lamb G 6-1 180 Jr. Indianola, Iowa Indianola HS  Limited role player last year.
33 Jason Beharie F 6-9 230 Fr. London, England Canarias Basketball Academy  
34 Sam Goodman G 6-2 185 Jr. Lawrenceville, Ga. Central Gwinnett HS Transf. from Northwest Florida State CC
35 Kenneth Faried F/C 6-8 225 Jr. Newark, N.J. Technology HS Second best defensive rebounder in the country and 8th best offensive rebounder.  2nd leading scorer (13.8), good defender and shot blocker.
45 Les Simmons F/C 6-7 220 Sr. Mountainville, N.Y. Cornwall Central HS Transf. from Cecil CC
Coaching Staff
Name Title
Donnie Tyndall Head Coach
Chris Moore Assistant Coach
Joel Zimmerman Assistant Men's Basketball Coach
Matt Grady Assistant Men's Basketball Coach
Adam Howard Director of Men's Basketball Operations

 

  • 2009-10 Overall Record: 20-16
  • 2009-10 Conference Record/Finish: 12-6 (4th)
  • Last Postseason Appearance/Record: 2009- NCAA Tournament/1-1
  • Letterwinners Returning/Lost: 7/5
  • Starters Returning/Lost: 4/1
  • Newcomers: 6

Analysis:

The Golden Eagles have a large number of transfers this year, so there is very little known about them at this point.  Ty Proffitt may tickle the memories of some, because the class of 2007 recruit out of London, KY was thought to be headed to Kentucky before he was injured, and wound up signing with Notre Dame.  He was little used by Mike Brey, and now finds himself playing for Donnie Tyndall.

The Eagles get bigger this year with the addition of 6'9" Jason Beharie from The Canary Islands via England.  Obviously, very little is known about this guy.

The Eagles last year were a scrappy, relatively efficient team that was solid defensively and very good on the boards due to the presence of Kenneth Faried.  They are a smallish team, and had a tendency to turn the ball over a lot last year.  The Eagles started very slowly last year, losing their first six straight games, including a 70-21 decision versus Grambling.

The Eagles are shorter, slower, less athletic and less skilled than Kentucky at every position.  The only advantage they seem to have is experience and a solid Division I player in Faried. 

Other than that, they have very little with which to challenge Kentucky except verve, grit, and the fact that UK is fielding a 100%, brand-new team under a new coach.  That combination of negatives for UK should not be minimized, but it is very difficult to see how the Eagles overcome the overwhelming physical and skill advantages of the Wildcats.

The Eagles will try to control the pace of the game, and if they are able to do that, they may keep the Wildcats from running away and hiding.  But my feeling is that they will not be able to slow down Kentucky enough to keep them from mounting a big advantage by late in the first half and cruising to victory.

Projected score:  UK 86, Morehead State, 58.

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