No flashy pics. No snappy dialogue. No bells and whistles. This is when things get serious, and they get serious in a hurry. Tonight, in the first of two games in which UK could very possibly get their collective hats handed to them, the UK Hoops squad takes on Baylor at 6:00 PM on ESPN2. #6 UK vs. #1 Baylor for what might be an NCAA Championship game preview. We all know who Baylor is. #1, 40-0, National Champs, home of Britney Griner, #1 WNBA Draft Pick lock and basically this year's Anthony Davis for the women. She is surrounded by a cast that not only compliments her game, they are all collectively just as dangerous. It is going to take some serious work to take down the Lady Bears tonight.
When UK and Coach Matthew Mitchell walk into the Ferrell Center this evening, it will basically represent entering the lions den, or in this case a Bear's. Baylor is virtually invincible on the road, much less at home in their friendly confines. Baylor, led by 2012 National Coach of the Year Kim Mulkey, is 1-0 on the season after defeating Lamar, 80-34, in its season opener.
The Lady Bears were led by preseason and reigning consensus National Player of the Year Brittney Griner’s 24 points while junior point guard Odyssey Sims, a Preseason AP All-American, tallied 11 points and senior guard Jordan Madden scored 10. Senior Destiny Williams led the team in rebounding with seven.
The Hoops squad is coming off an impressive first game where Matthew Mitchell’s charges downed Delaware State, 90-50, in Saturday’s home season opener. A’dia Mathies led the Wildcats with 16 points while Bria Goss added 14 and DeNesha Stallworth tallied 11, while Samari Walker and Azia Bishop shared rebounding honors with seven each.
Make no mistake about it, this is a battle of behemoths, no matter their gender. UK is going to play fast, hard, and in your face basketball, while Baylor is going to use home court advantage, size, and experience, not to mention the above mentioned Griner to try to overpower the Hoops squad. Kentucky will have to use it's size combined with speed to offset Baylor and it's ability to do a lot of the same things. These two teams, while playing different styles, mirror each other in many ways. Both are loaded with talent, both have the ability to shut down their opponents defensively, and both can score tons of points. If UK hopes to beat Baylor tonight, they had better bring all 40 minutes of dread with them, and a lot of points will be needed as well. I expect that Kentucky will forgo trying to completely stop Griner, and simply make an effort to keep her hands off the ball as much as possible by trying to pressure the Baylor guards and other ball handlers into making mistakes and turnovers.
Baylor is not a complicated team. They simply come right at you. They don't fear anyone, and they know what their abilities are. They all play within themselves, and when things get tight (which they don't very often) they simply let Griner take over. She is not the Player of The Year for nothing. Make no mistake folks, this is the toughest team we will see all season, and it's not even close. If the Hoops squad can somehow corral the Baylor guards, and force Griner outside the paint when she has her hands on the ball, they can overcome Baylor and all of their weapons. But it is going to take leaving it all on the floor tonight. No mistakes, and no letting up for all 40 minutes. I believe they can do it, and I believe they are going to show Baylor that their path back to another NC is going to be a tough one. In the end, I really don't know how to call this one. Baylor by 2, and that's a guess.