Does it seem like it has been an eternity since the Kentucky Wildcats last played to anyone but me? I suppose that's typical after coming off a tough, last-second loss to rival Indiana , but it just feels like this week as dragged on and on and on with nothing to talk about but a loss. I hate that.
The good news is, we have a game tonight against the Chattanooga Mocs, officially known as the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. It's nice to see the trend of remote campuses to drop their parent university's name. Makes it easier on us bloggers.
In any case, here are the fundamental facts about the Chattanooga Mocs:
|Mascot||Scrappy the Mockingbird|
|Colors||Navy, Old Gold & Silver|
|Conference||Southern (North Division)|
|Head coach||John Shulman|
|Overall coaching record||124-113|
|UTC All-Time record||1172-947|
The Mocs come into this game off a win over Division II Spalding, but have suffered four losses in their last five games. :They have struggled this year, having lost two of their last six by only one basket.
For the game preview from the Mocs perspective,check out Mocs Mania!.
Records and splits
Significantly, the Mocs have yet to win a game away from home. At Rupp Arena versus #3 Kentucky seems an unlikely place to reverse that trend.
Meet the Mocs
|2||Dontay Hampton||6-1||165||G||Sixth man, Best defender||Junior||33.4||20.7||108.2||57.5||8.0||0.8||16.3||7.0||0.9|
|5||Drew Baker||6-7||199||F||Walk on, Starter?||Sophomore||6.9||17.8||111.6||83.3||19.1||3.8||0.0||5.9||4.5|
|32||Jahmal Burroughs||6-6||206||F||Major Reserve||Senior||30.6||9.9||87.9||40.0||11.3||4.4||4.4||1.3||0.0|
|10||Martynas Bareika||6-4||186||G||Deep reserve||Freshman||4.5||24.2||71.5||42.8||11.7||5.9||12.5||0.0||0.0|
|11||Ronrico White||6-3||165||G||Major Reserve||Freshman||32.7||19.0||99.9||41.6||8.9||4.9||17.8||2.9||0.0|
|24||Ryan Gentle||6-5||181||G||Unavailable||Freshman||Out with injury|
|44||Sam Watson||6-7||235||F||Likely unavailable||Junior||Expected to redshirt|
|12||Trey Brown||6-7||192||G||Deep reserve||Freshman||3.6||7.6||25.4||0.0||0.0||7.4||0.0||0.0||8.7|
|30||Z Mason||6-5||242||F||Reserve, former Ole Miss football player||Sophomore||26.0||22.9||74.4||29.6||19.5||10.4||9.3||2.1||3.6|
As you can see, the Mocs are struggling a bit right now with personnel issues, and hence can be seen as coming into Rupp Arena a bit wounded and undermanned with a starter suspended. Ricky Taylor and Omar Wattad lead the Mocs in scoring, and both are very good shooters from the perimeter. In fact, the Mocs have a number of good 3-point shooters, but not many bruisers who do damage in the paint. As you can see, they are a pretty small team, and given that Kentucky is just the opposite, that doesn't bode well for the Mocs.
Four Factors to winning
Kentucky has the advantage in every one of the four factors on the season, unsurprisingly. The Mocs are a good 3-point shooting team, and they get over 40% of their points from outside the arc. Significantly, Kentucky has struggled recently defending the three, so the timing of this particular opponent for the Wildcats could not be better. We will surely see, tonight, if 3-point defense has become a priority for this team, because the Mocs are going to toss up a bunch -- #20 in Division I in 3-point attempts, and #17 in 3-pointers made.
The problem the Mocs are going to have is defending Kentucky's bigger and more skilled players inside the arc. I don't see anyone on the team capable of guarding either Terrence Jones or Anthony Davis down low, and I feel a bunch of lob dunks coming off the pick and roll tonight.
The Chattanooga Mocs are just too small and too dependent on the 3-point shot to have a legitimate chance at pulling the upset tonight, the odds of which are pegged at 1% or less by Kenpom.com. Not only that, the Mocs are down a starter and significant contributor, yet another victim of inappropriate Twitter comments.
Kentucky needs to demonstrate competence tonight at defending the 3-point shot, something that has been at the root of a close call and a road loss for the Wildcats in the last two games. This is a great opportunity for Kentucky to show off how they have improved in this area, and of course, it will be a chance for Terrence Jones to show that he has fully recovered from that strange affair in Bloomington.
I think most Wildcats fans still have some doubts about this Kentucky team on the road, a hangover from last year's squad that famously won only 30% of their away games all year. I would remind those fans that this is a far different, significantly more talented squad than last year. That doesn't mean they will go as far or not have some struggles, but the odds in Las Vegas now favor the Wildcats winning the whole thing, according to Rush The Court.