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Kentucky Wildcats at Baylor Bears: Live Game Thread

Kentucky takes on Baylor tonight in iced-in Arlington, Texas.

Andy Lyons

I think we all know that Kentucky has had a cupcake schedule since the Michigan St. game, at least up until Providence up in Brooklyn. Now, Kentucky steps it up even further and challenges the Baylor Bears, currently ranked #20 by both major polls. This makes Baylor the highest-ranked team UK has faced this season outside of MSU.

Baylor has a lot going for it, including size, depth, and talent; just not as much of any of that as Kentucky has. With that said, this is an older, more experience team, and that matters.

Folks, Kentucky needs to win this game. They don't need a blowout, but they can't go dropping the first two games against ranked competition and expect to be in the running for a #1 seed after whipping up on the weak SEC. This is a very important game for Kentucky's post season — it is semi-away, and it is against a team who can be expected to be in the NCAA tournament at the end of the year. Not to mention the fact that the Bears came to Rupp Arena last year and spanked Kentucky in front of 24000 UK partisans.

For this to end well, Kentucky must:

  • Play through Julius Randle. If Baylor zones Kentucky, getting it to Randle is the main way to draw the defense. If Randle doesn't draw the double team, he is likely to score. If he does, he needs to find the open man and force the defense to move.

  • Attack in transition. Baylor is an athletic team, perhaps the most athletic team UK has played all year. But they are not as athletic as Kentucky, and the Wildcats need to get as many cheap baskets as possible.

  • Take care of the basketball. When Kentucky takes care of the ball, they are very tough to beat.

  • Be patient against the zone. There is simply no way to rush a half-court offense against zone defense.

  • Make free throws. If there are a lot of fouls, and Kentucky is one of the top teams in the nation drawing them, the Wildcats can be most efficient by making free throws.

  • Rebound, especially defensively. Baylor is a good, but not great, offensive rebounding team. Keep them off the offensive glass, and it will be harder for them to win.

  • Defend the three, particularly Haslip and Franklin.

This is a big one, and even though a lot of people won't get to see it, it is very important for Kentucky to get this win.

Go, 'Cats!