Tonight, the Radford Highlanders put on their basketball kilts and charge into Rupp Arena to challenge the Kentucky Wildcats on their home turf. This is the first ever meeting between Kentucky and Radford University. Believe it or not, this game is still a part of the Naismith Hall of Fame Tip-Off Classic, in which Radford also participated, losing to Marist and Long Island at Mohegan Sun Arena last week.
Some quick facts on Radford:
|Radford Quick Facts|
|Colors||Red and White|
|Affiliation||NCAA Division I|
|First Year 1974-75||1974-1975|
|All-Time Record||574-482 (543)|
|BSC Regular Season Titles (Last)||4 (2008-09)|
|BSC Tournament Titles (Last)||2 (2009)|
|NCAA Appearances (Last)||2 (2009)|
|Result||vs. North Carolina (L) 58-101|
|Head Coach||Mike Jones|
|Alma Mater||Howard ’90|
|Record at Radford||3-3 (1st Season)|
|Career record||Same (First head coaching job)|
The Highlanders have never before played UK, but they have played in Rupp Arena before. In their first-ever NCAA Tournament appearance, the Highlanders lost to the same Duke Blue Devils team that would fall a few days later to Kentucky's 1998 championship team.
Courtesy of Statsheet.com:
|Rank and Records||UK||RAD|
|Strength of Schedule||#73||#277|
|RPI Top 50||0-0||0-0|
|Daniel Mitchell||G||Key reserve||6-3||185||Senior|
|Javonte Green||F||Starter||6-4||180||Freshman||2nd leading reb., 1.7 steals|
|Devin Cole||G||Reserve||5-7||160||Junior||Walk-on, ineligible 1st sem.|
|Jareal Smith||G||Starter||6-3||190||Sophomore||Leading scorer|
|R.J. Price||G||Starter||6-0||170||Freshman||Leading assist, .35 3p shooter|
|Johnathan Edwards||F||Starter||6-8||205||Senior||2nd leading scorer, leading reb.|
|Brian Darden||G||Key reserve||6-1||160||Freshman||.412 3p shooter|
|Lukas Winegarner||F||Key reserve||6-9||215||Sophomore|
|Tolga Cerrah||F||Key reserve||6-9||215||Sophomore|
This year's Radford team is very young even by Kentucky standards, with 10 of their 15 players freshmen or sophomores. While not exactly a tiny team, they are neither particularly tall, long, or massive, and will be at a significant length disadvantage against UK.
Ken Pomeroy currently ranks Radford 314th out of 345 Division I schools.
Four Factors Analysis
It's still too early for the stats to be particularly meaningful, but directionally, you can see here a reasonable representation of how the game should wind up. Kentucky is a very good shooting team against foes the quality of Radford. Turnover % at this point is a crap shoot for either team, and the way UK has been going lately, I would almost take 21% turnovers without complaint.
Kentucky has not been a particularly good offensive rebounding team so far this year, checking in at 11th in Ken Pomeroy's version of that stat. Radford looks better on paper, but hasn't faced a team as big or athletic as UK so far. Free throw rate is anybody's guess, but at this point, UK would be a good bet to rack up about 40% in this stat, just like the chart says.
This game is a mismatch. Radford is too young and lacks talent at every position. Their players will probably develop and they may be a major factor in their conference in a year or two, but right now, these are small-school Division I athletes barely out of high school trying to play against the elite of the Division I ranks on their home floor. Without meaning any disrespect, this is a tough spot for Radford.
Kentucky should work on their offensive and defensive execution in this game, as well as taking care of the ball. I don't see how Radford can possibly provide much resistance given their youth, but no matter how one-sided it looks on paper, you still have to play the game. I probably said the same thing back in 2009 about
Sam Houston St. Miami (OH), and it took a John Wall jumper at then end to win that game.
With all that said, UK needs to find a way to get better, as its almost time to get into the meat of the pre-conference schedule. The #1 North Carolina Tar Heels loom next week, and a visit from the St. Johns Red Storm just before that.