Radford Highlanders @ Kentucky Wildcats (2): Game Preview

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
School Radford University
Location Radford, Va
Founded 1910
Enrollment 9300
Nickname Highlanders
Colors Red and White
Affiliation NCAA Division I
Conference Big South
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.

Team Comparison

Courtesy of Statsheet.com:

Rank and Records UK RAD
RPI #20 #310
Strength of Schedule #73 #277
Overall 4-0 3-3
Conference 0-0 0-0
Home 1-0 3-0
Away 0-0 0-1
Top 25 1-0 0-0
RPI Top 50 0-0 0-0


Roster

Player Pos Status Ht Wt Class Comments
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
Allen Dickerson G Reserve 6-2 180 Sophomore
Chance Smith G Starter 6-0 160 Senior Walk-on
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
Blake Smith G Reserve 6-4 175 Junior
Jalen Carethers F Reserve 6-8 185 Freshman
Kyle Noreen F Reserve 6-5 185 Freshman
Lukas Winegarner F Key reserve 6-9 215 Sophomore
Tolga Cerrah F Key reserve 6-9 215 Sophomore
Brandon Holcomb F Reserve 6-7 200 Freshman

 

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.

Overall analysis

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.

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