This is a big game for the Kentucky Wildcats if you consider their NCAA Tournament position, but there is no doubt that it feels bigger for the Louisville Cardinals. The Cards are 0-4 against Kentucky since John Calipari came to town, and 0-1 in the KFC Yum! Center against the Calipari-coached Wildcats, and many of their players are multiple-year guys who have never beaten Kentucky.
Here are the game particulars, courtesy of UKAthletics.com:
|Kentucky at Louisville|
Sat., Dec. 29 - 4:00 p.m. ET
Game Notes: UK | UL
Radio: UK IMG
Here's what Kentucky needs to do to to have a chance to win:
- Value the basketball. Every turnover for the Wildcats is a potential nail in their coffin, particularly steals. Kentucky must place a greater value on possessions than the possibility of easy baskets in transition. Run only when it's there, not when it's hard.
- Take care of the defensive glass. Kentucky must keep Louisville, a good offensive rebounding team, off the offensive glass. The alternative is that Kentucky must get a higher a percentage of offensive rebounds as the Cardinals do. Doing both would be ideal.
- Be tough. Louisville likes to push and shove as much as any team in the country. They are going to try to impose their will on Kentucky physically. The Wildcats must respond without getting themselves in foul trouble.
- Take good shots. Kentucky is a better shooting team, and they need to take good shots and not allow Louisville to drive them deep into every possession where a bailout shot is required.
- Attack the rim. Archie Goodwin and Ryan Harrow must get into the paint and preferably all the way to the rim, and they must do it often.
- Defend at a high level. Kentucky has not played a team this year with the combination of size and skill on defense that Kentucky brings, so the Wildcats must take advantage of that. Kentucky must force Russ Smith into shots he does not want to take, and limit the Cardinals' transition opportunity.
- Don't let the crowd help. UK was overwhelmed in South Bend when a partisan Notre Dame Fighting Irish crowd fueled the Leprechaun to a convincing win.
I want this win very badly for all kinds of reasons. Not only does it suck when you lose both in basketball and football to your rival in one year, but Kentucky really needs this win for their strength of schedule and NCAA Tournament seed. Not only that, I have noticed a significant amount of apathy in UK's fans this year, a disturbing thing to see. A win over the despised Cardinals would do a lot to restore some passion in this fan base that seems to be taking the year off at this point.
Go, 'Cats, beat the Cardinals!