This is the official Open Game Thread for Alabama at Kentucky.
This game will likely tell us whether the UK team we have seen lately is truly likely to pull it together well enough to move on to the post season. Alabama is a worthy opponent despite their poor SEC record, and they have a lot of big, strong, skilled and athletic players who will present problems to Kentucky.
Alabama has been very efficient on offense all year, and can score from every spot on the floor. They have shooters, post players and rebounders. What they do not have are defenders, free-throw shooters, and up until now, good decision-makers.
While Kentucky's most recent victory against Auburn may have looked ugly, that was primarily because of the ridiculous number of turnovers committed by the Cats. Kentucky is getting more and more efficient on offense with every passing game. With Ramel Bradley back today, we can only hope that the team who was beginning to display solid if unspectacular ball handling statistics returns to Rupp Arena rather than the overly-generous bunch we saw down on the Plains earlier this week.
I don't think there is any chance of Kentucky taking Alabama lightly, but there is the possibility that the Wildcats may be tempted to let up a bit from the extraordinary effort they have been giving over the last few games, especially returning home from two games on the road. That would be a mistake, as the Crimson Tide is more than capable of not only defeating the indifferent version of the Wildcats we saw earlier this year, but running them out of Rupp and becalming the Big Blue ship that is beginning to make headway toward recovering from it's miserable early season.
Keys to the game:
Ballhandling -- 23 turnovers against Alabama will doom the Cats.
Fouls -- Both Hendrix and Patterson are indispensable. The one who sits most with fouls will likely be the loser.
Aggressive offense -- Alabama struggles to defend, and getting the ball into the lane will create scoring and fouls.
Free throw shooting -- Alabama is one of the worst free-throw shooting teams in the nation.
Tough defense -- Alabama has not fared very well against tough defensive teams on the road.
This could be five in a row. If the Cats win this one, they will begin to impinge upon the national consciousness as a dangerous team. No liveblog today, I am down with a cold. Post your thoughts in the comments below.