Tonight, the Kentucky Wildcats travel to Portland, Oregon to take on the Portland Pilots in the Rose Garden.
Game details are as follows, courtesy of UKAthletics.com:
|Kentucky @ Portland|
|Game Notes||Kentucky Game Notes | Portland Game Notes|
|Date & Time||Fri., Nov. 19, 10:30 p.m. ET|
|Coverage||TV: ESPNU |
|Location||Rose Garden |
As you can see by the preview of a couple of days ago, Portland is a serious team that cannot be taken lightly. Yes, the University of Portland is a small Catholic school, but they get good basketball talent and have upset their share of BCS conference teams.
One of the things working against the Pilots is that they are very young off the bench, and not in the same way as Kentucky. Kentucky is young, but they are talented far beyond their years. These young Portland reserves are not in the same universe with Kentucky's talent, although their older players are quite accomplished and they are probably superior to Kentucky in the team concept at this point in the season.
This will be a test very much in the same vein as ETSU, except it will be a long way away. The further one travels from home, the tougher the game is, and Kentucky's maturity is in for an early test.
What UK needs to win:
- Good communication on defense. That has been a weakness so far.
Run, run, run. UK forced ETSU to fear their open-court game and get back fast on defense and eschew offensive rebounding. Kentucky needs to prove early and often that they are going to push the pace, and Portland might react the same way.
- Rebound, rebound, rebound. Kentucky has to find a way to get on the offensive glass and dominate it.
- Make open shots. If UK can continue to shoot well, lack of size will not matter nearly as much.
What can cause an upset:
- Turnovers. The 'Cats have done a good job of taking care of the ball, and if they continue to do that well, it will be tough to beat them.
- Giving Portland open threes. Portland has some guys who can really shoot. Kentucky must deny them open looks from three and force them to shoot on the move.
- A lack of intensity. Terrance Jones has been bringing plenty of emotion, and that has helped this young team play with passion.
- Getting out-hustled. This is an underdog playing at home, and you can bet that they will try to out-effort Kentucky. We have seen that happen before, and it can turn a should-be blowout into a competitive game, and a competitive game into an upset. DeAndre Liggins could be pivotal in the role of energy guy.
There is a lot that can go wrong on this trip. Kentucky must use effort, focus and determination to overcome distance, a hostile arena, and an upset-minded team with talent and skill. This will be a good test for this young group. We'll see how much progress they've made in a week.