Kentucky Wildcats (12) @ Alabama Crimson Tide: Open Game Thread

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This is the official A Sea of Blue Open Game Thread for the Kentucky Wildcats @ Alabama Crimson Tide basketball game tonight in Coleman Coliseum in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

Game particulars are as follows, courtesy of UKAthletics.com:

Kentucky @ Alabama
Game Notes Kentucky Game Notes Get Acrobat Reader | Alabama Game Notes Get Acrobat Reader
Date & Time Tues., Jan. 18, 9:00 p.m. ET
Coverage TV: ESPN
Radio: BBSN
GameTracker
Online Audio
Live Video via ESPN3
Text Updates
Location Coleman Coliseum
Tuscaloosa, Ala.

 

The Tide are coming off a loss to another dangerous SEC West team (particularly at home), the Arkansas Razorbacks.  But they are back at home in the friendly confines of Coleman Coliseum tonight versus the Wildcats, and this will be the second major SEC test for this young Kentucky team.

The Elephants are sporting the #2 eFG% defense, and that will seriously challenge Kentucky in a way that no team really has since the Georgia Bulldogs game in Athens.   Kentucky has not been held to under 70 points but once all year, and that was against the Connecticut Huskies in the Maui Classic.

Conversely the Crimson Tide have not scored 80 points but 4 times this year, so the dynamic of this game begins to look like the irresistible force vs. the immovable object paradox.  Hopefully the generally accepted consequence, which is abrupt mutual nonexistence, can be avoided in this contest, at least.

Keys to a Wildcat victory:

  • Attack the rim a lot.  Even if the defense is great inside, it will force the defense to rotate and shots to open up.
  • Take advantage of Tide turnovers.  Alabama is not the most careless team in the league, but they provide plenty of opportunities for Kentucky.
  • Stay out of foul trouble.  Alabama is slightly depleted in bench depth, but they are still deeper than Kentucky.
  • Stay aggressive, both offensively and defensively.  When this team gets passive, or allows the other team to dominate them physically, they lose.

Keys to a Crimson Tide upset:

  • Guard the perimeter as if the game depends on it -- because it does.
  • Attack Josh Harrellson at every available opportunity.  Alabama has superior inside players.
  • Win the offensive rebounding battle.  That offsets turnovers, and gets much easier with Harrellson on the bench.
  • Push Kentucky around.  The 'Cats have been vulnerable to physical basketball teams this year.

This is a big early-term exam for Kentucky in the SEC.  If UK loses this one, storm flags will go up everywhere.  If they win, we will know that we have a very serious SEC contender on our hands, and one that can learn from earlier mistakes.

Let's git 'er done.  Go, 'Cats!

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