Kentucky Wildcats at Mississippi Rebels: Game Preview

Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

Coming off the loss to Florida, Kentucky needs to shine tonight in Oxford.

Rather than having the full-blown pregame, I'll refer you to the previous one we did for the Ole Miss game two weeks ago. The roster, matchups, and etcetera will not be substantially different now than they were then.

Instead, we'll focus on what Ole Miss has done since then, look at the Four Factors from the last game and now, and go from there.

Ole Miss since the last game

Since Tuesday, February 4th, Ole Miss has played 3 games. Here are their results, courtesy of Kenpom.com:







Offense Defense
Date Opp. Rnk. Opponent Score Location Pace Eff eFG% TO% OR% FTR Eff eFG% TO% OR% FTR
02/08/14 45 Missouri W, 91-88 H 70 129.4 62.1 15.6 38.9 48.3 125.1 56.8 17.1 35.5 44.1
02/11/14 102 Alabama L, 67-64 A 67 95.2 44.6 17.9 26.3 33.9 99.7 44 17.9 36.8 41.4
02/15/14 97 Georgia L, 61-60 A 60 99.5 37.3 5 29.6 44.1 101.1 39.4 19.9 46.1 53.9

Four Factors from last time UK played Ole Miss

Four Factors for both teams now

Analysis

In the first game Kentucky and the Mississippi Rebels met this season, the Wildcats dominated most of the statistical factors important to victory in route to an 80-64 win. Kentucky shot 63% from 2, and only a 15% shooting performance from the arc kept the game inside of 20 points. As you can see above, Kentucky dominated the offensive boards and marched to the line constantly.

Since then, Ole Miss was extremely efficient offensively in their one home game against Missouri were Marshall Henderson made 8 of 15 3-point shots, and LaDarius White added an additional 4-5. All in all, Ole Miss made 14 3-point shots out of 29 attemts, and still came within 4 points of losing.

The formula here is simple - the Rebels are going to try to beat Kentucky by making 3-pointers, and Kentucky has to prevent that from happening. Ole Miss is pretty efficient inside, overall, but they are an average defensive team, and despite their loss to the Florida Gators, Kentucky is still a powerful offensive team. It will be very hard for Mississippi to stop Kentucky in the paint, although we can imagine it will be harder for Kentucky to get foul calls like they did in Rupp Arena.

Job One for Kentucky is preventing the Rebels from shooting three-point shots. If Kentucky can do that, the Rebels will struggle to score, because they get almost 33% of their points from beyond the arc. That will require face-guarding Marshall Henderson, and also limiting LaDarius Smith's touches on the perimeter.

Offensively, Kentucky needs to get the ball into the paint and either get to the rim or get fouled. I think it would be really helpful if the Wildcats could shoot a reasonable percentage from outside tonight, and making free throws will also be important.

Mississippi is gong to be much tougher at home, and Kentucky cannot take any plays off, or come with their "B" game. The 'Cats can ill-afford back-to-back losses, and every road game right now is very important. Kentucky has some proving to do after Saturday's loss, and they need to start tonight.

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