Florida. Is it me, or have they just been the proverbial boogie man this season? On January 5th, they delivered Kentucky their first loss of the season at Memorial. On February 9th, they pulled a lather-rinse-repeat with a victory in Gainesville.
Let's look at how they delivered this one-two punch on our season, and review the keys to keep the Gators from pulling a three-peat.
January 5th: Cats vs. Gators in Lex, Final Score 73-83
If you look at the box score, the key to this loss isn't hard to find. Anytime you're shooting 35% to their 49%, and are 57% from their charity stripe to their 77%? You're pretty much hosed. When the bad guys also beat you in rebounding and blocks??? You're not just hosed, you're so hosed you're basically a L'eggs container.
February 9th: Cats vs. Gators in Gainesville, Final Score 80-86
This was a better battle, with UK shooting a much improved 45%. The 54% performance from the free throw line was definitely a dagger, but even if we'd shot at our season average of 67% we'd still have a deficit. Turnovers were pretty even at 18 vs 16. Florida's offensive performance was softer than the first round, with 48% shooting and 68% from the line, but it was enough to deliver the W.
So, how do we win this afternoon?:
- DeNesha Stallworth has to get +10 pts. In the first round DeNesha was just coming back from knee surgery, and while she played, her time was limited to 7 minutes, 4 pts, and 3 rebounds. In the rematch DeNesha played 30 minutes and averaged 14 pts, with 13 rebounds. DeNesha's season average is 11.9 pts, and 7 rebounds so if she can step that up again on Friday we're well on our way.
- Jennifer O'Neill has to have phenomenal game. I was a little shocked to see Jen's average points per game this season was only 13. That said, if Jen gets hot, and delivers a good 20 point game another piece of the puzzle is in place.
- Makayla Epps - Baby Girl Epps has averaged 4 points a game this season, but has started to peak at the right time, averaging 11 points in her last 4 games. Another great game from Epps can definitely help us get the W.
I could go on listing players and basically just write "PLAY BETTER", but in looking at our recent performances really feel these 3 are the keys.
The game is at 2:30, and if you're lucky enough to watch live please feel free to use this as your game thread. Assuming we get past the Gators, we will have one for Saturday's noon game.
Until tomorrow - GO CATS!