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Kentucky @ Louisville: Open Game Thread

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This is the official A Sea of Blue open game thread for the Kentucky Wildcats @ Louisville Cardinals basketball game at Freedom Hall, Sunday, Januar 4th @ 4:30 PM.

Particulars of this game are as follows:

Here we are, at the annual meeting of two bitter foes, Kentucky and Louisville in basketball. Of course, every Kentucky and Louisville fan has this date circled on their calendar, and those who have to work or live with fans of the other school much prefer to have the upper hand in the inevitable back and forth.

Today's tilt finds Louisville struggling a bit, having lost two out of their last three games, and Kentucky on a roll, having won six in a row against admittedly inferior competition. For UK, a win here represents a résumé builder for their NCAA tournament hopes and a validation of the apparent improvement fans have seen. For Louisville, this game represents a chance to stop the bleeding at the expense of a bitter rival and also achieve that résumé win that eluded them versus Minnesota and UNLV.

There is no doubt that Freedom Hall gives the Cardinals an advantage, and a significant one. Kentucky will have to overcome that by matching or exceeding the Cardinals' intensity on defense. Offensively, the Wildcats will have to overcome Louisville's match-up zone, which will no doubt be in front of them for at least some of the game.

Things Kentucky needs to do well to win:

  1. Be patient when attacking the zone, and find the open spots. Run when possible to deny Louisville the chance to set up the zone.
    Raise the defensive intensity through the roof.
    Take care of the basketball. Louisville feasts off opponent turnovers.
  2. Get the ball to Patterson early and often. Patterson is a great passer out of the post, and will find open shooter.
  3. Jodie Meeks and Patrick Patterson must stay out of foul trouble.

Things that will make it likely for Louisville to win:

  1. Force Kentucky to shoot from the perimeter. Even good perimeter shots are preferable to allowing Patterson to get the ball down low.
  2. Turn Kentucky over. Kentucky is susceptible to poor ballhandling, and Louisville's pressure defense is among the best in college basketball.
  3. Minimize fouls. Kentucky is a great foul shooting team.
    Force someone other than Meeks and Patterson to beat them.
  4. Get Patterson in foul trouble as soon as possible.

There is little doubt that Louisville has the superior talent and depth, but Kentucky is much more talented than either Minnesota or UNLV, so they have more than enough talent to win this game. The rivalry component also puts extra pressure on the Cardinals as the home team.

Gird your loins, Big Blue Nation. It's time for wrath, time for ruin, and the Blue Dawn!

Go, 'Cats!