This is the official Open Game Thread for Kentucky at Mississippi State. For those of you who can't get the game on TV, here are some links:
When you're 7-7 and hoping not to break a long string of NCAA appearances, every game is a huge game. Kentucky's first road trip to the SEC is no exception.
The Hump in Starkville is a tough place to play, and this will be a difficult game for Kentucky for many reasons, not the least of which are continuing injury issues. MSU has some injuries of its own, namely to starting shooting guard Ben Hansborough, their biggest 3-point threat. But the game must go on for both teams, and both are coming off successful outings against SEC foes -- MSU against LSU and Kentucky against Vandy.
The things that worked for Kentucky against Vandy will also work against the Bulldogs, and that is a very good thing. Having Jasper out really hurts our presence on the boards, though, as he has been a very effective rebounder during the games he has been able to play. Jodie Meeks is more likely to play than Jasper, but it is doubtful if Meeks is anywhere near 100%, and Gillispie might just rest him for Saturday when we venture on the road again to meet Florida in Gainsville.
Look for this to be a defensive slug-fest. Neither team scores particularly well, and unless one or the other has a great shooting night, this figures to be a war of attrition. I expect a game in the low to mid 60's, because both defenses are good and neither offense is particularly productive. With that said, both MSU and Kentucky are quite capable of going on a tear, and that will tilt the balance of power in this one if it happens. These teams are pretty even statistically, and both teams match up well personnel wise. The Cats won't have the athletic advantage they had against Vanderbilt, though, so they are going to have to play even better in their man-to-man sets.
Keys to the game:
Ballhandling -- Some things never change
Intensity -- I expect MSU to be very intense against us defensively. We must match it.
Rebounding -- If we don't rebound well, we will surely lose.
Shooting -- we are a better shooting team than MSU, and we need to exploit that advantage.
Rejection junction -- Prepare for blocked shots. Kentucky can't let that get into their heads.
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