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Kentucky at Auburn -- Open Game Thread

This is the official Open Game Thread for Kentucky at Auburn.

Kentucky has been playing well, but this game is another one of those opportunites to excel.  Honestly, the biggest reason this game is a must-win is that we have basically used up all our bad losses, and then some.  Even though this game is an SEC road game with all that implies, Kentucky should be favored.  Winning this game would put us on a 4-game winning streak, the longest such streak this year.  For a team that is used to much longer stretches without a loss, that may seem inane to some, but right now, it would feel really good for the injury-riddled Wildcats to have the longest streak in the conference.

Auburn may not be big and strong, but they are athletic and fast, and they play every bit as hard as any coach could want.  They are the second-best effective FG% team in the SEC (just behind mighty Tennessee), and among the leaders in the nation.  Kentucky is the third best eFG% defensive team in the SEC.  The Tigers are just the sort of team that used to give the Wildcats fits under the former regime.  Let's hope Gillispie can make that vulnerability a thing of the past.

Auburn is coming off a couple of tough losses in their current three-game slide, giving Vanderbilt all it wanted and losing to LSU at the wire.  They are a serious team with a determined bunch of guys who have been just as unfortunate as Kentucky from an injury standpoint.  From what I have seen, they play just as hard as the Cats do, and they are looking to turn their recent misfortunes around.  Jeff Lebo is a good young coach, and you take he and his team lightly at your peril.

Keys to the game:

  1. Ballhandling -- Auburn is good at stealing the ball.  The Cats need to take care of it.
  2. Rebounding -- Scrappy teams like this have given us trouble.  We must not let them out-rebound us.
  3. Slow lane -- Keep Auburn out of the lane, and they will struggle.
  4. Defend with passion --  They shoot the ball well from everywhere.  The Cats must stop them.
  5. Patterson -- They have no answer for the big guy.  Get him the ball, a lot.

If a 3-game streak was a dream, a 4-game streak is really a sign that the Cats are back on the prowl.  No liveblog tonight, leave your comments below.