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Oh, yeah. There is a game tonight, too.

Now that I have calmed down a bit from my furious response to Billy Reed, lets move on to more pressing matters -- the Houston Cougars.

I won't be doing a fancy analysis tonight, because frankly, between work and the frustrations with the current state of Kentucky fans, I don't much feel like it.  But I am pumped about the possibility of seeing Jodie Meeks on the floor again tonight, and surprising as it may seem, Tom Penders' group is 8-1 and we are getting them at home.  If we can win this one, it won't shock the world, but it might give the team some confidence and a little breathing space from non-stop criticism, naysaying, and warnings of disasters yet to come.

A look at Houston:

Tom Penders' club has played nobody all year until tonight, but they have beaten everyone except for VCU.  As we may remember from last year, Houston loves to jack up three pointers, and the stats say they are pretty darn good at it, with 2 starters shooting over 38% from three.

Their usual starters are PG Lanny Smith, G Robert McKiver, G Brockeith Pane, F Dion Dowell, F Tafari Toney.  McKiver, Dowell, and subs Brockeith Payne and Kelvin Lewis (transfer from Auburn) all shoot over 38% from outside the arc.  They are a small team, with only 1 starter at 6'8 or above and 6'11" Marcus Cousin out with injury.  In other words, they match up well size wise with us.

This is one of those games where UK will be trying to put on the breaks.  Houston's philosophy is pretty similar to Pitino's Bobinos, a decided preference for 3 point shots.  They are a dangerous team because they will try to dominate the pace and will make 3's -- they shoot almost 11/game and make almost 40% of them.

Who must we guard?  McKiver, Dowell and Payne.  They all can go off from three just like Vaden did, and if they do, the result will be the same.

Comparing the stats:

Taking a quick look at Pomeroy's stats, we find that Houston and Kentucky play at a somewhat similar pace, and have similar OE numbers at 107.5 for Houston and 105.2 for the Cats.  Defensively, though, the Cats are much better, 42nd best in the country against Houston's 127th.

Houston is a significantly better 3 point shooting team, but Kentucky is much better from two.  Unfortunately, unless Kentucky's ballhandling improves, UK will be facing a severe deficit in that area.  Houston takes good care of the basketball, and we know the Cats don't.

Bottom line

The Cats are more talented, but Houston is just the kind of team that used to give Tubby Smith fits.  So far this year, Gillipie's teams have fared similar to Smith against similar foes, if you throw out G-W.

Look for this to be another tough game for Kentucky (aren't they all?), but if UK can play at the same level they did against UAB, I like our chances.  Hopefully, a few minutes from Meeks will instill some hope into a team that hasn't had much lately.

If possible, we need this win worse than we needed the last one, and Kentucky is playing far away from the friendly confines of Rupp Arena against a team that has overachieved as much as UK has underachieved.  At least, Houston has beaten the teams they are supposed to beat.

Five reasons the Cats will win


  1. Bigger and stronger inside and get lots of OR's

  2. Patterson gets the ball a lot and puts it in the basket

  3. Crawford and Bradley continue to make shots

  4. Jodie Meeks makes an impressive return

  5. Michael Porter continues his recent good play

Five reasons the Cats will lose


  1. The Cougars go off from three

  2. Long shots result in lots of garbage rebounds that Houston wins

  3. Patterson has trouble guarding the quicker Houston inside players

  4. Houston makes more free throws than we attempt

  5. Crawford and/or Bradley keep turning the ball over

GO CATS!