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Can the Broncos buck the 'Cats?

It's obvious by looking at the results this weekend that the SEC is one tough conference this year.  With that being said, the Kentucky Wildcats have got to have one of the most favorable early-season SEC schedules in recent memory.  Yet despite the apparent ease of the first 5 SEC games, none of them turn out to be cupcakes -- even lowly Auburn gave the #2 Pittsburgh Panthers a very tough game recently and Vanderbilt defeated #25 Georgia Tech in Nashville earlier this month.

But before we get to all that, we have to deal with the Santa Clara Broncos tonight at 7:00 PM in Rupp Arena.

A look at Santa Clara

Santa Clara is currently 8-3 with a notable recent whipping of Pac-10 perennial power Stanford University at their place.  Even though Stanford has not been highly regarded this year, it still should serve as a warning for Tubby Smith's team that this Santa Clara team deserves their undivided attention and best efforts.  The Broncos return 4 starters from last year, including point guard Brody Angley, center John Bryant and forwards Sean Dennison and Mitch Henke.  Eastern Washington transfer Danny Pariseau is also playing well for the Broncos.

Santa Clara features a strong front line with some great size.  They are only about average from the 3-point arc, and they have only two players averaging double digits in points.  However, 36% of their rebounds have been offensive, and as we all know, that could spell trouble for the weak-rebounding Wildcats.

This game will be another examination for Randolph Morris, as the Broncos have 3 players 6'10" or taller who see significant minutes.  Although Santa Clara is somewhat undersized in the starting back court, they have plenty of good-sized bodies coming off the bench.  Santa Clara has 10 people playing significant minutes this year, so their bench is long and has been reasonably productive.

Santa Clara is used to playing tough comp, as the WCC is topped by the Gonzaga Bulldogs and Loyola Marymount.  They have not played a cupcake schedule in their out of conference schedule, either, having beaten Utah, lost to California and giving  Nick Fazekas-led Nevada a scare, losing only by 8 to the #21 ranked Wolf Pack.

It is extremely critical for Randolph Morris to have a good night tonight.  If he gets in early foul trouble, Santa Clara's size will mean trouble for us, especially on the offensive glass.  Santa Clara is a much sterner test than many may think, and if Smith must zone a lot to protect Morris, we could wind up in a nail-biter or worse because of SC's excellent offensive rebounders.  Orbzut could again be a huge factor in this game, for good or ill.  We have a clear advantage on the wing and in the backcourt, but a cupcake, the Broncos aren't.