Tonight, the Bulldogs of Samford University will invade Rupp Arena and attempt to knock of the Kentucky Wildcats on their home floor. Samford is the second Southern Conference member in a row for the Wildcats, as the Chattanooga Mocs team that Kentucky defeated last Saturday night is also a member of the Southern Conference.
Here are the need-to-know facts about Samford University:
|Colors||Red and Blue|
|Affiliation||NCAA Division I|
|Athletics Director||Martin Newton|
|All-time Div.I record||484-601|
|NCAA Tournament appearances||2|
|SoCon Record/Finish||4-14 (6th in North)|
|Head coach||Jimmy Tillette|
|Record at Samford||221-206|
This will be the first meeting between the Bulldogs and Wildcats, but not the first time Samford has played against a John Calipari-coached team. In 2003, Samford nearly upset Coach Cal's then #22 ranked Memphis Tigers team in the Memphis Pyramid.
A Kentucky connection is Athletics Director Martin Newton, former UK Director of Basketball Operations and son of former UK AD CM Newton.
|John Peterson||F||6th man||6-7||190||Senior||60.50||18.30||104.20||51.50||5.70||4.80||9.50||1.00||0.00||4,|
|Kaylin Johnson||G||Major Res.||6-0||185||Senior||36.10||16.20||75.60||59.60||10.30||0.90||4.30||0.90||0.00||1,|
|Raijon Kelly||G||Major Res.||6-4||175||Freshman||50.90||18.40||96.80||52.00||4.80||3.80||18.50||0.60||0.50|
|Gregg Wooten||G||Out||6-2||195||Junior||Likely starter but injured and out for season|
|3||4th game back from injury|
|4||Questionable due to injury|
|9||Redshirt last year|
Four Factors to Winning
As you can see by looking at the above statistics and information, Samford is a small southern school in a large conference of small southern schools. They are not expected to be among the contenders for the SoCon title this year, and are a relatively young team with only one senior starter and four upperclassmen available to play this year.
Stylistically, Samford uses a variation on the Princeton offense, but relies very heavily on 3-point shooting. In fact, Samford gets over 50% of their scoring from beyond the arc, even more than the Chattanooga Mocs. Once again, this is a team that presents an opportunity for Kentucky to improve their 3-point shooting defense, learn how to defend through down screens that have bedeviled them since the North Carolina game, and tighten up their offensive execution.
Defensively, Samford does not put up much resistance, currently weighing in at #326 nationally in defensive efficiency. Samford is not a good FG% defensive team, they turn the ball over a lot, do a very poor job on the offensive glass, and are generally very passive defensively. Kentucky is likely to cut them to ribbons off the dribble, as they simply don't defend well off the bounce despite being a mostly man-to-man team.
Look for coach Tillette to dust off some kind of junk defense against the Wildcats, or this game will be over before the second media timeout unless the Bulldogs are hot from three, or the Wildcats struggle to make layups. This is the kind of team I hate to see UK play too many of, because the Wildcats are likely to come in uninspired and lacking energy except in the initial moments. It takes a lot of discipline to learn from teams like this, although as we know from Gardener-Webb a few years ago, taking a team lightly can result in disaster. I don't expect disaster, though.
One thing Samford does do reasonably well is score, and a lot will come off threes and back-door cuts that the Princeton-style offense is famous for. Samford is currently 3rd in the nation in made 3-pointers per game, and they shoot a decent percentage from there. That's why UK must defend the three, because the Bulldogs will absolutely let them fly.