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Kentucky Wildcats (20) @ Tennessee Volunteers: Open Game Thread

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This is the official A Sea of Blue open game thread for the Kentucky Wildcats @ Tennessee Volunteers today in Knoxville. Today's game represents a "Winner take all" scenario for the #2 seed (and last remaining bye) in the SEC Tournament. There is plenty at stake, which is how a regular-season finale should be.

Particulars as follows, courtesy of

Kentucky @ Tennessee
Game Notes Kentucky Game Notes Get Acrobat Reader | Tennessee Game Notes Get Acrobat Reader
Date & Time Sun., Mar. 6, 12:00 p.m. ET
Coverage TV: CBS
Radio: BBSN
Online Audio
Live Video via CBS
Text Updates
Location Thompson-Boling Arena
Knoxville, Tenn.

Once again, the Kentucky-Tennessee border war is renewed, this time in hostile territory. The Volunteers, however, have been far less proficient at defending their house than the Wildcats have this year. Conversely, the Wildcats have only been successful once this season in the SEC on incursions into enemy strongholds. This dichotomy sets up a fascinating backdrop for the game at high noon today.

Don't forget to visit our friends over at Rocky Top Talk for the Tennessee perspective. More after the jump.

Keys to a Wildcat win:

  • Physicality. When Tennessee came to Rupp, the Wildcats were the more physical team. If they can pull that off again, I like their chances in this one. If not, I don't.
  • 3-point shooting. Kentucky must shoot the ball well, as the Volunteers are not a great shooting team, even at home.
  • Defend Scotty Hopson like he's John Jenkins. Hopson is the main offensive threat the Volunteers possess, and he is adept at getting into the lane and getting fouled. Kentucky must try to keep the ball out of his hands as much as possible, because when he gets it, bad things happen for the opponent.
  • Stay at least even on the boards. The Volunteers lead the SEC in offensive rebound percent. Kentucky cannot lose this stat by much and have a chance, just remember what happened to the Vanderbilt Commodores last week.
  • Attack the middle. With Brian Williams out, Tennessee is somewhat thin in the middle, and Kentucky needs to attack that weakness.

Keys to a Volunteer victory:

  • Force Kentucky to turn the ball over. Tennessee is not the worst ballhandling team in the league, but they will be at a real disadvantage unless they force UK to cough it up.
  • Make some threes. Tennessee is near the dregs of the league in 3-point percentage in the SEC, and if they don't make a few today, their prospects are grim.
  • Attack the rim. Scotty Hopson has done that about as well as anybody lately. If he can have a good game offensively, the Vols have a chance.
  • Defeat Kentucky on the offensive glass. With Brian Williams out, this becomes harder but still doable. Kentucky has a tendency to be soft on the road, and the Volunteers have rarely been soft anywhere.

The season finale. Huge as it should be. Go, 'Cats!