Welcome to the A Sea of Blue open game thread for the Long Island U. Blackbirds and Kentucky Wildcats game tonight in Rupp Arena. Once again, this game is a part of the Barclays Center Classic, and is the last game for either team in this event.
Game particulars are as follows, courtesy of UKAthletics.com:
|Barclays Center Classic
Kentucky vs. LIU Brooklyn
Fri., Nov. 23 - 7:00 p.m. ET
Game Notes: UK | LIUB
Gameday Live: Online video, audio, blog and stats
TV: FS South/UK IMG
Radio: UK IMG
The Blackbirds have struggled to start the year, but tonight they get back a major piece of their puzzle in Julian Boyd. That should help their interior offense and rebounding quite a bit. This is likely the first game all year that Boyd has been back to near 100%.
For Kentucky, yet another game without Ryan Harrow. There is no real update on his situation, and given that it seems to be family related, I don't really feel the need to obsess about it. He will be back, in my opinion, and he will get himself back into the starting rotation in fairly short order.
Here's what I'll be looking for tonight:
- Better overall effort and hustle. I thought Kentucky's effort against Morehead St. was not up to the level that both fans and the coach should expect.
- Improved rebounding. Kentucky has been losing a lot of rebounds to opponents after they get their hands on the ball, and that's perhaps the most frustrating thing about how the Wildcats have rebounded so far.
- Strength with the basketball. Do you think that LIU is going to ignore what Morehead was able to do? I don't. That's not to say they will send Kentucky on a parade to the line like the Eagles did, but they will do their best to get bodies on the Wildcats and try to force them out of their comfort zone.
- Better off the ball movement. I though there was too much standing around in the last game.
- Kyle Wiltjer to play better. I know Wiltjer does a lot of good things, but he has to rebound and defend better. We all know the guy can shoot, but he continues to be the squeaky wheel defensively, he's going to see his minutes disappear.
This is a game Kentucky should win fairly easily, but the Blackbirds were figured to be a top 150 team this year, and even though that hasn't materialized yet, a healthy Boyd might make it suddenly appear. Kentucky has to be prepared for that, and has to raise their level of play significantly over the last game.