Tonight, the Kentucky Wildcats take on the Lamar Cardinals in Rupp Arena. This is the first of three games to close the non-conference schedule for the Wildcats, and the final "tune up" game before what promises to be one of the most anticipated Kentucky-Louisville Cardinals matchups since Year One of the John Calipari reign.
|Lamar Cardinals Quick Facts|
|Colors||Red and White|
|Head coach||Pat Knight|
|Seasons||First season at Lamar|
|Overall record/Seasons||51-61/Fifth Seas|
This will be the third meeting all-time between Kentucky and Lamar, with Kentucky having won the previous two meetings. As all of you no doubt know by now, Pat Knight, the Lamar head coach, was a former Indiana player under his father, Bobby Knight. Pat Knight took over for his famous father at Texas Tech, but was fired after coaching the Red Raiders for three years. He was promptly hired as the head coach of Lamar.
Last year, the Cardinals were 13-17 overall and 7-9 in the Southland conference. The conference champs last year were the McNeese St. Cowboys. Last time out, Lamar fell to the Ohio St. Buckeyes in Columbus, 50-70. The Cardinals are 8-4 on the season, and have played a very tough schedule already including the Louisville Cardinals, Ohio Bobcats, and the aforementioned Buckeyes.
As you can see above, the Cardinals have played more RPI Top 100 teams than Kentucky has, but haven’t fared nearly as well.
|20||Brandon Davis||Sixth man||6-6||180||Senior||54.2||20.4||101.1||47.4||10.1||3.5||13.6||1.2||0.0||5,|
|33||Osas Ebomwonyi||Major Res.||6-11||220||Sophomore||35.6||10.6||108.7||60.0||17.2||13.9||2.2||0.6||15.0||4,6|
|22||Donley Minor||Major Res.||6-1||175||Junior||42.0||12.0||81.1||35.7||9.0||2.0||10.3||2.4||0.4|
|10||Rhon Mitchell||Unavail.||6-5||180||Freshman||Redshirting this year|
Four Factors to Winning:
Lamar is a team that really does nothing statistically better than Kentucky except get to the free throw line. With that said, Lamar is a competent team that is, at least on paper, the best team the Wildcats have played since Indiana, and they are a fitting choice for our last game before Louisville in more ways than their nickname.
Lamar is not a particularly good 3-point shooting team at 32% on the year, and doesn't get much of their scoring from distance. Lamar has also struggled to shoot a high percentage from inside the arc, and as a team their effective field goal percentage is only 43.3%, which is among the lowest in Division I.
Lamar likes to play very fast at almost 72 possessions/40 minutes. They are also a decent defensive team, ranking right at the top 100 in the land according to Kenpom.com. The Cardinals don't turn it over a lot, and they are as good as Kentucky is on the offensive glass.
Lamar's 2-point defense is excellent, holding teams to 43% from inside the arc. Their 3-point defense is just average. Lamar makes their free throws, shooting an impressive 75% on average from the line.
Like his father, Pat Knight is a fan of the motion offense, but unlike his father, does not utilize as much screening, particularly the flat screens and up screens around the area of the key that Bob Knight was so famous for. The younger Knight prefers a more traditional motion set, and his teams are very active away from the ball. He may be doing more screening at Lamar, because if you watched the practice the other day, you saw a lot of dedicated work on defending screens.
Defensively, Knight likes to play mostly man, although he is willing to zone also, especially as a change-up. Calipari said the other day that they would also throw in some zone, ostensibly against Lamar. We have seen a few zone possessions earlier this year, but they have been as rare as hen's teeth for the most part.
The Cardinals' Anthony Miles and Vincenzo Nelson get to the line a lot due to their slashing style. Kentucky's defenders will have to watch out for this, as Miles is very good at getting into the lane.
The Cardinals are a smallish starting unit, although they do have some size on the bench. Still, Kentucky will have a size advantage on Lamar, and the Cardinals will have a particularly difficult time dealing with the size and athletic ability of Anthony Davis. Doron Lamb also figures to be a major factor due to his perimeter shooting ability and the fact that Lamar isn't a particularly good 3-point defensive team. But where the Wildcats really have an advantage is inside the paint, where Lamar has been pretty pathetic scoring and Kentucky very efficient.