This is the official A Sea of Blue open game thread for the Ouachita Baptist Tigers vs. the Kentucky Wildcats. The game is at 7:00 Eastern time in Rupp Arena and is the second and final exhibition game of the 2008-09 UK basketball season.
Here are the particulars about Ouachita Baptist:
- Location -- Arkadelphia, Arkansas
- Enrollment -- 1600
- Mascot/Colors -- Tigers/Purple & Gold
- Affiliation -- NCAA Division II
- Conference -- Gulf South Conference
- Head coach -- Charlie Schaef
- Record last season -- 20-10 (NCAA D-II Tournament 2nd Round)
- Other conference members of note: Delta State, Southern Arkansas
Ouachita Baptist faced Texas A&M, coach Gillispie's old school, last year in an exhibition, so it's no surprise to find them on the UK schedule this year. Ouachita lost to TAMU last year 85-59, but went on to a 10-4 record in the Gulf South Conference and won the West Division of the GSC. OB lost it's second-round game in the NCAA Division II tournament to North Alabama in overtime.
Ouachita Baptist is a senior-dominated team, having no less than seven seniors and 3 juniors on its roster this year. They lose their leading scorer Memo Rodriguez, who averaged almost 13 points per contest, but return their next three leading scorers in Benjamin, Marks, Maddox and Ledbetter. The OB Tigers are deadly from the 3-point line, shooting .368 as a team last year and returning most of that shooting this year. The Tigers are a small team with no players taller than 6'7".
Unlike Missouri-St. Louis, this is not a rebuilding team. This is a battle-tested and thoroughly competent small-college basketball team that is fully capable of giving unprepared Division I teams one heck of a fight. They are well coached and have a winning tradition. They may be small, but they are used to winning and have tons of upperclassmen to lead the team.
This will be a nice step up from Kentucky's first exhibition game, and this team should be much more of a test than UMSL. We should get a much better idea how good UK's 3-point defense is facing a team like the OB Tigers, who can truly shoot the rock. We will also find out if the intensity we saw Monday against UMSL will be carried over game-to-game.
What I am looking for tonight is consistency of effort and a continuation of the very professional and workmanlike attitude we saw Monday. Of the small amount of things I could take away from Monday's game, the consistent and professional effort we saw from the players was the most encouraging. If they duplicate that again tonight, we should have little trouble with the Tigers. If the 'Cats trot out the disjointed, clueless kind of game we saw early in the season last year, this could become a real contest, very similar to what we saw with Gardener-Webb.
But I don't expect that. This is a different team, one that has clearly embraced the Gillispie basketball philosophy and has the depth to sustain that effort. More work will be required to put this experienced team away, but UK clearly out-talents and out-athletes the Tigers.