UK enters the "Den of the Despised," otherwise known as Freedom Hall, today against the Southern Conference's Appalachian State Mountaineers. The 'Cats should be looking for some redemption for last years "Robert Vaden Variety Hour:" An 'hour' in which Vaden made shots from a variety of locations on the floor, and singlehandedly put a second half beat-down on Billy Gillispie's seemingly helpless 'Cats. Although, Freedom Hall has historically been almost as reliable as Rupp Arena in producing victories for UK, last year was an unnecessarily ugly exception.
ASU's head coach Houston Fancher (no, I didn't make that up) brings his 'Neers into Louisville with a 4-3 mark. Francher, in his ninth season at ASU, has posted a 128-121 record. He lost only two starters off last years 18-13 squad, and his team and fans entered the '08-'09 season hopeful of arriving on the national spotlight as another mid-major heart-breaker. I'm not a fan of the RPI, but, "Appy State trails only Butler and Southern Illinois in winning percentage versus RPI Top 100 opponents," (Cats' Pause Yearbook). This fact should give them a bit of confidence coming into the Hall this afternoon, but they're gonna need more than confidence to topple the 'Cats today.
For more, here are 20 fun facts for fodder as you prepare for the game:
- Francher starts three guards, a small forward, and a center.
- ASU has taken 153 three-point shots in seven games. That works out to 22 per game. They make 'em at a 34.6% clip.
- ASU holds opponents to only 30.6% on three-point shots. Overall, ASU shoots 44.0% from the field, while their opponents shoot 44.1%.
- Starting point guard, junior Ryann Abraham, is listed at 5'10", 180 lbs. He has committed 20 turnovers and handed out 21 assists.
- 6'10" starting center Ike Butts has taken only eight free throws all year.
- ASU averages 80.6 points per game, but gives up 82.7.
- 36% of ASU shots are three-pointers (153 of 420), resulting in 7.6 makes per game.
- ASU has committed 139 turnovers (19.9 per game), and dished out only 93 assists (13.3 per game). They try to help ease that stat by snagging 21 more offensive rebounds than their opponents. In total, they average 7.9 more rebounds than their opponents.
- ASU has only 93 assists on 420 shots taken (only 22% of their shots are assisted).
- Five players average in double-figures for the Mountaineers: 6'1" 185 lb junior Kellen Brand averages 12.6 points per game; 6'1" 170 lb sophomore Donald Sims averages 12.0 points per game; 6'10" 285 lb Ike Butts averages 11.4 points per game; 6'3" 190 junior Eduardo Bermudez averages 11.3 points per game; and the aforementioned Ryann Abraham averages 10.4 points per game. Starting forward Josh Hunter, a 6'6" 235 lb junior (he's a JUCO transfer), averages 9.7 points per game. He also leads the team with 25 turnovers (3.6 per game).
- Butts has recorded six double-doubles this season (four straight). He averages 11.4 rebounds per game. He also shoots 63% from the field.
- ASU has only 22 blocks (3.1 per game) and 43 steals (6.1 per game) on the year. ASU opponents have recorded 67 pilfers (9.6 per game).
- ASU is +41 points in the first half of games, but a -52 in the second half.
- In ASU's three losses they have given up an average of 93 points per game in regulation.
- In their 89-70 loss to East Tennessee State ASU committed 21 turnovers (12 in the second half) to the Moc's 11. ETSU scored 29 points off those turnovers, ASU scored only seven points off the Moc's turnovers. ASU was out-shot from the free throw line in that game by a count of 26-17 (ETSU made 23).
- In ASU's 95-80 loss to Niagara they once again lost the battle of the butterfingers by a count of 19 turnovers to 13. Niagara scored 29 points off of ASU's turnovers, and ASU managed only 11. ASU was once again out-shot, in a big way, at the free throw line 35-21. ASU made on 12 of their 21 charity tosses, Niagara made 26 of 35. Niagara shot 54.4% overall, and made 7 of 18 three-pointers.
- The Mountaineers once again were bitten by the same miscreant bed-bug that has befuddled Kentucky this year in their 108-101 overtime loss to UNC-Wilmington. ASU committed 28 turnovers to UNC-W's 11. This allowed Wilmington to take 16 more shots than ASU. ASU shot 46% from the field to Wilmington's 44.3%, but their opponent made 12 of 35 (34.3%) three-point shots to ASU's 8 of 28 (28.6%). UNC-W guard Chad Tomko recorded eight of his teams 12 steals versus Appalachian State.
- In case you are counting, that's 68 turnovers in their three losses (sound familiar?).
- Last year ASU lost to Davidson twice; 71-60 and 65-55.
- In ASU's last seven games versus BCS conference schools they have posted a 2-5 record: They have beaten Arkansas 74-67 (last year), and Vanderbilt 87-69 in the '06-'07 season. They've lost to Clemson, Wake Forest, Virginia Tech, Virginia and Ole Miss by an average of 19.4 points (all in the '06-'07 season).
I feel a blowout coming on.
With UK showing signs of progress, although consistency is not one of those signs, I look for the 'Cats to have a big game today. The size and numbers advantage enjoyed by Patrick Patterson, Josh Harrellson, and Perry Stevenson should help pave the way for a UK victory, making the Jefferson County UK faithful very happy.
Thanks for reading, and Go 'Cats!