You already know the story. We barely escaped with our lives in Memorial when Texas A&M came to town. Kelsey Bone with her chicken wing offensive prowess and the rest of A&M with their hard nosed defense were all Kentucky could handle. So how are they supposed to win at College Station? It's quite simple, really. Just win, baby.
Please understand, when UK and A&M tip off this evening in College Station at 7PM on ESPN2, this is not going to be one of those "watch these women play, it's an art form" type of game. Kentucky is not going to just "Waltz Across Texas" to a fiddle tune. This is war. It is likely to get bloody, so unless you want a little smudge on your nice clean white UK t-shirt that you are saving for just this type of occasion, don't sit too close to the screen.
It may be a little hard to see, mind you. Those "Play for Kay" pink uniforms make it sometimes a little hard to see blood all over your jersey, even in high-def with 60" of viewing pleasure. No matter, it will be there.
You see, Bone is going to be Bone. She is going to try to dominate the paint. she will probably succeed. The difference between A&M and Kentucky is that Kentucky does not have to control the paint to win. A&M does. Oh, it is much easier to win that way. The basketball purists will tell you that if you cannot control the paint, you cannot win in big time college basketball.
Mitchell just does not see it that way. He tries everything in the world, mind you, to do it, however he can win without it.
In the last game, Bone's game-highs of 27 points and 15 rebounds led Texas A&M, then Bellock added 16 points and 10 rebounds and Adrienne Pratcher had 10. They live inside the paint. We can make their lives miserable by taking away their inside game, because without it, they have no hope of survival. UK, however, has become a much more balanced scoring team. Kentucky has right at 50% of their points coming from inside the paint. The rest is a mix of 3 point baskets and made free throws.
When you look at it overall, that gives Kentucky the edge. The experts know it. Kentucky now has an RPI of 8, a ranking of 9/7, and they have a firm hold on a 2-seed in the NCAA Tourney as this is being written. If there was ever a time for Kentucky to flex it's muscles and let the air out of an opponent, this would be it. A&M is ranked 13/11 in the nation, and they are a 1/2 game ahead of Kentucky for second place in the SEC. A win tonight and Kentucky controls it's own destiny the rest of the way, no matter what the rest of the SEC does.
If they can take the Aggies, Kentucky will have 2 wins over them this season. Even if Tennessee wins out up to the UK game, if the Wildcats win that game, they win the conference. In between these games, UK only has to travel to LSU and Ole Miss to get victories there. Only.
The formula is simple. It has been the same all year. Defense, defense, defense. In their come from behind victory against South Carolina last week it was the defense that led the way, and a balanced scoring attack that put points on the board. That will not change tonight.
So, if you want to see the Kentucky Wildcats playing hard, being responsive to their coach, getting in their opponent's grill, hitting big 3 point shots and fighting for an SEC title, tune in to ESPN2 at 7PM.