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Kentucky Wildcats (E4) @ Connecticut Huskies (W3): National Semifinal Open Game Thread

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This is the official A Sea of Blue open game thread for the second 2011 National Semifinal game featuring the Kentucky Wildcats versus the Connecticut Huskies. The Huskies, as the higher seed, are nominated as the home team. This is the third meeting between these two teams in the last two years, and the fourth meeting in history. Right now, UConn leads the series 2-1.

Here are the game particulars, as if anyone does not already know, courtesy of UKAthletics.com:

Gameday Information
Game Notes Kentucky Game Notes Get Acrobat Reader | Connecticut Game Notes Get Acrobat Reader
Date & Time Sat., Apr. 2, 8:49 p.m. ET
Location Reliant Stadium
Houston, Texas
Kentucky Seniors Video


Both these teams got here the old-fashioned way -- they earned it. Kentucky earned it by defeating the #1 seed Ohio St. Buckeyes in a thriller, and the #2 seed North Carolina Tar Heels back-to-back. Connecticut got here by defeating the #2 seed San Diego St. Aztecs and the #5 seed Arizona Wildcats, the latter in a thriller. The road hasn't been easy for either team, and this game figures to be just as tough as all the rest.

For the Husky perspective, be sure to visit SB Nation's excellent Connecticut blog, The UConn Blog.

Keys to a Wildcat victory:

  • Take care of the basketball. Nothing can make this game tougher than a bunch of turnovers, and Connecticut is an extremely stingy team with the ball.
  • Take advantage of Terrence Jones. UConn does not have a player on their squad who can match up with him.
  • Force Kemba Walker to shoot threes. You have to pick your poison with Walker, and if he gets in the paint, UConn is going to get a lot of open looks from three or easy baskets.
  • Make open shots. Kentucky has reached this point by hitting open shots, particularly threes. This is no time to go cold. Kentucky needs to have the freedom on offense that good three-point shooting creates.
  • Rebound. UConn wins almost every game that they win the offensive glass by a significant margin. When they don't, or have a close margin, they are vulnerable.
  • Avoid foul problems. Kentucky cannot afford fouls now.

Keys to a UConn victory:

  • Kemba Walker. If Walker is dynamic and gets in the paint, the Huskies will have a big advantage.
  • Outrebound Kentucky on the offensive glass. Alex Oriakhi is an outstanding offensive rebounder, and if he can get a bunch, he can get easy points and extend possessions.
  • Attack the basket and draw fouls. If UConn can get UK in foul trouble, it is really bad news for the 'Cats.
  • Find a way to neutralize Jones. Jones is the one player they cannot match up with, and even though Jones may not be able to exploit it, it will be real trouble for UConn if he does. They need to try to get him out of the game as soon as possible.

This is a very tough game, and Kentucky is in for the fight of their lives. This UConn team has one of the most mentally-tough players I have ever seen in charge, and you can count on a close, hard-fought ball game. This Kentucky team is on a mission as well.

Go, 'Cats!


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