Welcome to the A Sea of Blue live game thread for the Kentucky Wildcats vs. the Kansas Jayhawks in the Champions Classic event in Indianapolis. The Duke Blue Devils and the Michigan State Spartans have settled the first game with a Duke win. Now, it’s time for the ‘Cats and the Jayhawks to contest the final game.
Kentucky faces their first real challenge of the season, event though the Buffalo Bulls certainly challenged Kentucky for a half the other night. This will be the Wildcats third game in five days, which is something of an unusual number this time of year. This early, though, it may be as much of an advantage as anything else. For a look at the matchup, you can check out my pregame, and Rock Chalk Talk’s pregame.
What it will take for Kentucky to win:
Dominate the offensive glass — It won’t be as easy against Kansas as it has been against smaller teams, but Kentucky has the personnel to dominate everybody.
Limit turnovers — Turnovers have been a bit of an issue so far. Kentucky needs to limit them, particularly live-ball turnovers.
Attack the rim — Andrew and Aaron Harrison needs to attack the rim at every available opportunity to force Kansas to rotate. They need to look for open shooters, or players cutting to the basket for lobs.
Make open threes — Kentucky has really struggled from the arc lately. They Wildcats must make these shots against better competition or they will be forced to play against packed-in defenses. Kansas knows that you can’t push out on Kentucky, so they are going to yield some threes.
Defend the perimeter — Kentucky has been up and down defending the perimeter so far this season. They need to do it better tonight.
Transition defense — I don’t think I need to emphasize this, it has been our weakness since the start of last season.
Press — Calipari needs to press, hard, at least some of the time. It will slow Kansas down and force their young guards into turnover situations.
This will be an interesting game for Kentucky, and will give us a good idea of where the Wildcats are this season. If you’ll remember last season, it was this game where we learned that the Wildcats of last season had a lot more weak spots than we imagined. This one is likely to be equally revealing, but hopefully not in such a negative way.