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Longwood Lancers @ Kentucky Wildcats: Open Game Thread

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This is the official A Sea of Blue Open Game Thread for the Longwood Lancers vs. Kentucky Wildcats basketball game tonight at Rupp Arena, 7:00 PM EST. This is the second game of the Finley Las Vegas Invitational, and the last game of the tournament to be played by UK outside of Las Vegas. For a statistical look at the Lancers, see my earlier post on the subject.

After soundly defeating the Delaware State Hornets in the first game of the tournament, the Wildcats now find themselves facing yet another small school with limited talent. Of course, the 'Cats have already surrendered one loss to a similar opponent, VMI, but if the last game were any indication, it would appear the Wildcats have learned their lesson and are on a path to improvement.

The biggest thing I will be looking for in this game is improved post play. Even in the Delaware State victory, Kentucky had trouble getting the ball into the post and Patterson had trouble doing anything with it on the rare occasions it did get there. That needs to change, and I am sure Billy Gillispie will be motivating his team to get the ball inside and continue to play the kind of in-your-face defense that worked so well against the Hornets.

Five things Kentucky must do to make the Coach happy:

  1. Get the ball in the post to Patterson -- This needs to happen early and often.
  2. Play smart, patient basketball -- Kentucky has been in too much of a hurry lately. Control the break and run it well when it presents itself.
  3. Improve transition defense -- Transition D has been a weakness of this team.
  4. Attack on defense -- If Kentucky can push the Lancers back to half court like they did Delaware State, it will make all UK partisans happy.
  5. Rebound -- Kentucky actually lost the rebounding battle to the much smaller Delaware State Hornets. That trend must be reversed.

Five things Kentucky can do to provoke Coach Gillispie's ire:

  1. Get out-hustled -- Kentucky got out-hustled in both losses.
  2. Turn the ball over carelessly -- We can all live with a few forced turnovers, but UK must minimize the unforced errors.
  3. Jack up a lot of perimeter shots -- Kentucky's scoring is unbalanced. See my earlier discussion of the subject. The 'Cats need to have better inside-out balance.
  4. Surrender open 3-pointers -- The one way the Lancers can surely beat the 'Cats is by getting open 3-point looks.
  5. Fail to communicate on defense -- This has been another Kentucky Achilles' heel -- calling out picks, announcing switches and rotating well defensively.

No more losing to teams we should beat. The Wildcats need to grow up, and continue to build on thier recent success. The record needs to be back to .500 posthaste.

Go, 'Cats!