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Cats and Bears in South Bend, OH MY! Game Preview and Thread

Is it me, or have our basketball teams been given a BEASTLY road to the Finals? Granted UK Hoops got to start their journey in the friendly confines of Memorial, but their next step is Baylor. Quadruple OT Baylor! This is THE ROAD TO NASHVILLE - PART III!

We need every cheerleader we can get for this one, Cat Fans!
We need every cheerleader we can get for this one, Cat Fans!

Ah, the Baylor game. 4 Overtimes, a full extra half of basketball. I know we were all thrilled with the W, but what REALLY happened on 12/6/2013? How on earth did we beat this club and their tragic fashion victim of a coach?

  • It wasn't really with our offense. The Cats shot 41.9% from the field, a little under their season average of 43.7%. They shot 31.6% from the 3, vs. their season average of 34.2%. Free throws at 74.2% vs the season average of 67%. In short, it was a nice but hardly earth shaking performance.
  • Ball control was a little better. We had 23 total TOs to Baylor's 28, which considering the extra HALF of basketball we played is pretty phenomenal. It wasn't quite the exquisite control we had against South Carolina, but it does put us roughly on par with our performance against UofL....once you factor in the average fouls per minute for the OTs.
  • Rebounds were a little above average, with 19 OFRBs vs. our season average of 16.3, and 37 DEFRBs vs. our season average of 27.1. (And yes, I know that's misleading because of the extra time, but it's not terrible)

So, how DID we win that game? And how can we chalk up another W?

  • Capitalize on points off turnovers: The Cats practically doubled their performance here vs. Baylor, delivering 33 points to Baylor's 17. Forcing the turnovers, and converting each and every one of them into points would be a nice first step.
  • Balanced offense: This has been an improvement late in the season, but in December one big plus for Kentucky was our bench performance. Our bench, led by Jennifer O'Neill, delivered a SCORCHING 61 pts - 46% of the team total, to Baylor's 30 points, or 23%.
  • Really, our game plan is simple: pick smart shots, defend like crazy, minimize the TO's, AND HIT OUR FREE THROWS. Of course, if it was was easy, anyone could do it, and so far this season exactly 3 teams not named Kentucky managed that feat.

Baylor Players to Watch:

  • Odyssey Sims: Quite simply, I'm not sure we can can contain her, short of ducktaping her to her seat. Mitchell fully admitted after the first game that the best defense we had against Sims was her fouling out of the game. Odyssey Sims is absolutely worthy of the hype. If she scores just 5 points in this game, Sims will become only the second female player in NCAA history to score 1000 points in a single season. (Stop, ponder and shudder at that statement.)
  • Nina Davis: Oh great, Mulkey has another phenom on her hands...and she's a freshman. Davis has been a key part of the Baylor success story this season, and with her speed and size has the real potential to give our front court fits.

In short: our women have a huge challenge in front of them. We had a really fun win Friday night in Indianapolis and it would be lovely to continue our stampede of success across Indiana with a victory Saturday afternoon in South Bend. I hope to see YOU in our game thread, supporting our Cats as they try to make magic happen...again.

Until Game Time, Cat fans - Happy Dancing!