This is the official Open Game Thread for UAB at Kentucky. For those of you who can't get the game on TV, here are some links:
There are very few ideal opportunities within a season for a team to get back on its feet against a worthy opponent. This is one of them. Obviously, there will be no live-blogging today because I will be at the game.
If you looked at my adversary analysis below, you will see that the only way Kentucky could consider UAB is in the number of high school All-Americans on the roster. The Blazers are, as of this moment, a better team than Kentucky statistically. If the Wildcats can win this one, not only will Mike Davis hate the Cats even more, but Kentucky will resurrect some hope of a season we can be proud of.
Kentucky has had a lot of things go wrong lately, but this week brought hope that Derrick Jasper might be making his way back into playing. If you recall this post from earlier, I virtually assured you of a setback, and predictably, it materialized on Thursday. But the doctors think Jasper is fine, so it really comes down to how he feels about playing. If I were a betting man, I would put money that we don't see Jasper -- but not much.
UAB is also coming in a bit wounded, having lost their starting point guard for the year to a knee injury. But the Blazers are shooting lights out from the perimeter, and are guarding the arc strongly as well. Kentucky must find a way to put points on the board.
I hope there is a big crowd at Freedom Hall today, but we are having a bit of a weather event here in Louisville, and some will undoubtedly use that (combined with the Cats' lackluster performance so far this year) as an excuse to stay away. I'll have more to say about this later, but for now, I am looking forward to cheering on the Wildcats to what would be a much needed (frankly, I would characterize it as "critical") victory.
My keys to the game:
- Patterson must be a scoring and rebounding machine.
- Bradley and Crawford must put the ball in the basket.
- Good ball movement -- for a change.
- Limit Vaden's touches.
- The bench must help.
Beating UAB won't get anybody talking about the Wildcats -- this is a game that most people would think Kentucky should win easily. But getting back into the national conversation from this point on will be an incremental thing, and we will have our setbacks. But we need to generate some success first, because a three-game losing streak is not the kind of progress I am talking about. But I have a good feeling about this game.