Welcome, ladies and gentlemen of the Big Blue Nation, to the first game of Kentucky's 2014 SEC season versus the Mississippi St. Bulldogs. We have been watching and hearing good things out of "Camp Cal" during the break. Let's hope it all produces results.
Here is a quick look at the Four Factors to winning for this game:
It goes without saying that Kentucky is the superior team on paper. We are better than MSU in every one of these categories, particularly offensive rebounding.
Kentucky's path to victory
Get the ball inside and score — This is something Kentucky has been good at, and Mississippi St. is not a shot blocking team. UK is much taller across ... well, everywhere, than Mississippi St.
Hit the offensive glass — The Bulldogs are only 135th in defensive rebounding, and Kentucky should have a feast of offensive rebounds.
Force the Bulldogs to shoot from outside — Mississippi St. has been a poor 3-point shooting team so far. Kentucky should make them prove they can make that shot.
Press Mississippi St. full court — The Bulldogs are not a good ballhandling team, and the more we force them to handle it, the more likely they are to surrender it.
Make free throws — This goes without saying, but Kentucky is going to get to the line a lot. They need to make them to matter.
Attack the basket — Kentucky should be able to get to the rim against this team, and they are mostly a man-to-man defensive team. If they go zone, Kentucky is going to need to be patient. Don't just jack up threes.
This is a game that Kentucky should win, and KenPom has us at 97% to do so in Rupp Arena. We are expecting a lot in this game, especially from the results of Camp Cal. This game will be an exposition of the success or failure of that effort.