The Kentucky Wildcats try for their third win in a row today when they take on the Mississippi St. Bulldogs on the road in Starkville, MS. This is a game Kentucky should be able to win over an improving, but still under-manned and under-talented Mississippi St. team. But with a white-out planned and a highly partisan crowd, Kentucky will have to take this Mississippi St. team very seriously. Upsets like this are not uncommon in the SEC, particularly when teams are as young as Kentucky.
Essentials for a Kentucky victory:
Offensive rebounding — The Bulldogs are a weak offensive rebounding team, and Kentucky must take full advantage from tip to horn. MSU is a solid defensive rebounding team, so offensive rebounding will be hard against them.
Transition defense — Yes, it was better last game, and no, the Bulldogs are not a great transition team. Still, it is a weakness that needs to be continually attended to.
Get into MSU's depth — Mississippi St. is not a deep team, and Kentucky is. The deeper they can force Rick Ray to go on his bench, the easier this game will be for Kentucky.
Attack the rim. MSU will likely zone, but it is nothing new now for this team. Kentucky must continue to do what they have done lately, get to the line and get into the paint. The open threes will be there, but the Wildcats need to shoot them sparingly.
Work on a defensive identity — Kentucky has firmly established their offensive identity, and now they must establish a defensive one as well. That's a work in progress.
Kentucky's intensity needs to be high in this contest, even though the foe is not considered to be particularly threatening. At home, with a strong home crowd, MSU can easily get ahead at some point and start putting game pressure on the Wildcats. Confidence in a young team tends to be fragile, so Kentucky needs to stick to their knitting, do what they do, ignore the surroundings and show their quality.