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Adversary Analysis -- Texas Southern at Kentucky

We have a really busy day at A Sea of Blue.  Not only do we have a huge football game vs. Tennessee, but we have a basketball game tonight against Texas Southern.  Fortunately, it is a weekend, so I have a bit of time to write seemingly endless blog posts.

Texas Southern comes into Rupp Arena for a tussle with Coach Billy Gillispie's Kentucky Wildcats tonight.  Texas Southern is a member of the Southwestern Athletic Conference, a conference which includes such teams as Prairie View A&MAlabama A&M, Mississippi Valley State, and Grambling State.  Texas Southern is currently 1-3, having won only it's first game of the year against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.

The Lexington Herald-Leader has a very good story today about Texas Southern's coach, Robert Moreland.  Texas Southern currently only has four scholarship players available.  Despite all this, Texas Southern played a very competitive game three days ago against a future UK opponent, Houston, dropping that decision 73-66 at Houston.

Texas Southern was a middle of the pack SWAC team last year, but due to the confusion surrounding the coaching situation and injury problems, they figure to struggle this year.

The starting five for the Texas Southern Tigers are likely to be as follows:

  1. Sollie Norwood, a 6'2" 165# junior guard from Mississippi.  Norwood averages 19.3p/4.8r/1a, and is the leading scorer for the Tigers.  Norwood likes to shoot the 3, and does so at a 39% clip.  He is not a great penetrator, but he is fearless and will shoot the ball from anywhere.
  2. Matthew Miller, a 6'3" 200# junior guard from Texas, averaging 8p/2.8r/2.8a.  Miller prefers to shoot inside the arc, and is not a particularly good shooter from anywhere.  He rebounds pretty well for a guard, though, and works hard on defense.
  3. Johnathan Frazier, 6'2" 175# sophomore guard from Houston, averaging 7.3p/5r/3.5a.  Frazier is a penetrator who likes to take it to the rack, and rarely shoots from outside the arc.  He is a good passer and rebounder for a player his size.
  4. David Burrell, a 6'3" 175# Junior guard from Houston, averaging 9.8p/2.3r/1.5a.  Burrell is almost exclusively a 3-point shooter, having attempted only 4 shots from inside the arc in 4 games this year.  Burrell will likely be starting in place of Jacques Jones, the team's second leading scorer and rebounder, who just found out he needs shoulder surgery.
  5. Kevin Abanobi, a 6'6" 215# forward from Texas, averaging 5p/6.3r/1a.  Abanobi is the inside presence for the Tigers, as small as he is.  He fights hard for rebounds and will shoot the three if left open, although he doesn't shoot it very well.  Abanobi had 12 rebounds in his last outing against Houston.     

The only players who have seen any significant time of the bench so far this year has been Raymond Robinson and Anthony Ike, and I can tell you very little about their respective games.


I really don't know much about TSU's offense, other than it is scrappy and hustles.  These guys are underdogs, they know it, and Coach Moreland is going to try to use that to its best advantage.  They have nothing to lose and everything to gain facing legendary Kentucky with a sorely depleted roster, so I expect a little trickery.


TSU will mostly utilize a 2-3 zone to help protect against easy baskets inside, but against Kentucky, that will be hard if Patrick Patterson runs amok like he did Wednesday.  TSU has nobody to match up against Kentucky's bigger people, so this should open up a lot of opportunities for Kentucky both inside and  out.


The intangibles actually favor the Tigers in this game.  They know that Kentucky is likely to overlook them, and it's hard not to.  They also have nothing to lose, and when you come into a hostile arena aggressive and fearless, it is possible to take the home crowd out of the game with scrappy play.


TSU's best players are unavailable for this game with the exception of Norwood and Abanobi.  They are one of the most sorely depleted mid-majors I can ever remember coming into Rupp Arena, and are unlikely to be able to handle the far superior size and talent the Wildcats have at their disposal.  Kentucky's walk-ons would likely start at TSU this year in their current condition.

Still, when teams find their back against the wall and everything against them, they can surprise anyone.  I don't think Kentucky loses this game unless they forfeit, but TSU is certainly capable of producing some angst in the Big Blue Nation if UK takes them for granted, and making the superior Wildcats look very bad by outhustling them.