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Tennessee at Kentucky -- Open Game Thread

This is the official Open Game Thread for Tennessee at Kentucky.  For those of you who are Tennessee fans and can't seem to work that www. thingy, here is a link to our brothers over at the Tennessee fan site, Rocky Top Talk (thanks again for the linkage, Joel).  And for those of you who can't get the game on TV, here are some links:

I have pretty much poor-mouthed the Cats in my stats review and the adversary analysis, but I'm done with all that.  We need a win, and a win against a rival is always the sweetest kind.  Unlike Florida, Tennessee is a bona-fide rival, maybe more due to geographic location than any on-the-court stuff.  Not that they haven't had their moments -- Earnie & Bernie, Alan Houston, the list of Cat killers in Orange is long and distinguished.  Tonight, they'll try to hang a Wildcat pelt on their wall by swaggering into our hallowed hall beneath our many championship banners.  I think it's time for the Kentucky Wildcats to rise up and smite these Philistines, and send 'em back to Knoxville with their raccoon-skin tails between their legs.

I expect the crowd to move the seismometers all the way in Louisville if Kentucky gets the lead, or if the Cats leave a lot of skin on the floor.  And I hope they do, because it is going to take some floor burns to put them Vols in their rightful place as Kentucky's doormat.  If the Cats expect to defend the House the Rupp built tonight, they are going to have to listen to the coach, and earn this victory with blood and sweat, because the Cats sure aren't going to out-talent the Vols this year.  Fortunately for Kentucky the Tennessee half-court defense isn't all that, and if we can force them to play a lot of half-court basketball instead of a game of suicides, we will have a shot at them.

They say nothing is more dangerous than a wounded animal, and the Wildcats have been wounded lately by tough losses on the road, and an embarrassing early season that has given nightmares to many of the Big Blue Faithful.  But a win over Tennessee tonight would reverberate throughout college basketball, and particularly the SEC.  The road to the SEC championship has always gone through Lexington, and I don't think any of us are in the mood to end I-75 North at Knoxville.

Keys to the game:

  1. Ballhandling -- What?  You expect me to change this?  Maybe when we have a game with single-digit turnovers.
  2. Lofton -- Holding him down is key.  He is like a time bomb, and he is due for an explosion.
  3. Pace -- We are too thin to play at Tennessee's pace.  If this isn't a halfcourt game, I don't have to tell you what will happen.
  4. Determination --  No prisoners.  No mercy.  For we will receive neither.
  5. Rebounding -- Tennessee is a team we can beat on the boards.  Tonight, we must.

This is a big one, my brothers and sisters in blue.  It's time for wrath, time for ruin, and the Blue Dawn!  Comments below, no liveblog tonight.