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Appalachian State @ Kentucky: Open Game Thread

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This is the official A Sea of Blue open game thread for the Appalachian State Mountaineers vs. Kentucky Wildcats basketball game at Freedom Hall in Louisville, Saturday @ 12:00 PM.

Particulars of this game are as follows:

Once again, UK finds itself matched up against a foe it aught to defeat easily. Last year in their annual pilgrimage to the River City (at which, by the way, I was in attendance), the Wildcats blew a substantial lead to lose to the UAB Blazers, sparked by a dazzling show of 3-point shooting by Robert Vaden.

The Mountaineers bring in their own star in the form of big man Ike Butts. Butts has had double-doubles in almost every game this year, so he is going to be option #1 on offense, and our post defense must rise to the challenge. In addition, the Mountaineers like to run up and down the floor very much in the style of VMI, and we all know how we did against them.

Nevertheless, ASU is significantly smaller (outside of Butts) and less talented than Kentucky, as you would expect. Despite the uneven performance last week against the Indiana Hoosiers, we have seen what can happen when Kentucky is intense and into the game. A few minutes of that, and the Mountaineers could find themselves in the same kind of hole IU did, or worse.

Five things UK needs to do to win:

  1. Intensity. If UK can raise their intensity to IU first half levels, the Mountaineers will collapse.
    Control the tempo. UK wants the tempo high, but not as high as ASU. The 'Cats need to control their urge to get into a track meet with this team.
    Get Patterson more looks. I don't care how they do it, there is no excuse today. ASU is not going to zone us, most likely, so Patterson should touch the ball a lot.
    Play under control. Too many times, this team has gone into a weird kind of purposelessness on offense.
    Take care of the defensive glass. ASU is an outstanding rebounding team on both ends.

Five things UK can do to lose:

  1. Start slow. A slow start has hurt us every time we have had one.
    Too many threes. We need to take some, but this team's bread is buttered inside the free throw line.
    Fail to get the ball into the lane. Our guards have been very inconsistent at putting pressure on teams by getting into the lane.
    Allow open three pointers. ASU is not a great 3-point shooting team, but teams can get hot from out there. Just ask Miami.
    Relax. UK can't afford to relax. Ever.

This is another game UK should win convincingly. The Mountaineers aren't bad, but they lack the overall size and talent to be competitive with Kentucky over 40 minutes unless Kentucky just fails to fire. Make no mistake, that is a possibility -- we have been unprepared to play a time or two this year, and it has hurt us.

But I don't expect that. This team is beginning to show some signs of maturity and increasing confidence, and that is the team I expect to see in The Hall today.

Go 'Cats!