Today, the Kentucky Wildcats lay their undefeated season on the line in Tuscaloosa, Alabama against the Alabama Crimson Tide. The Tide and Wildcats have had many good games over the years, and the ‘Cats always seem to have a tough time against Alabama in Coleman Coliseum. We’ll see if form holds this year of if the bigger, badder Wildcats can win another game on the SEC road, where the going is always tougher than people expect.
Kentucky may be without the services of Dominique Hawkins. The latest update on him I have is this from Kyle Tucker:
I'm told Hawkins' issue is back-related. Hope to know more after the game.— Kyle Tucker (@KyleTucker_CJ) January 17, 2015
If Hawkins is unable to go, it could be that we’ll see the first extended minutes for Derek Willis in a while, but that’s not a sure thing. Coach Cal’s comments have suggested that Willis isn’t working hard enough in practice to suit him, and if that hasn’t changed, he might not play much. In any case, this will be something to keep an eye on.
Essentials for victory
Take care of the ball — Alabama produces a fair number of turnovers with their defensive pressure, and Kentucky must take good care of the ball. They’ve been doing a good job of that lately, but if anything can put Kentucky in a world of hurt against the Tide, it is a high turnover rate.
Guard the arc — Alabama has better shooting this year than they have for a while now. Kentucky must force Alabama to put the ball on the floor.
Attack the rim — Alabama is fairly deep, but they lose a lot of offensive punch off the bench. Getting into that bench would be a good idea for the Wildcats.
Get defensive rebounds — It may be hard to believe, but Kentucky is among the worst defensive rebounding teams in the country at #269. That needs to change, starting today.
Get the ball into the middle of the zone — I know I am a broken record on this, but you can expect to see this point ad infinitum until the team (or Coach Cal) figure out how to execute against a zone defense.
Defensive rotation — The defense rotated great against Missouri, but they have to do it even better against the sharper-executing Crimson Tide.
This is anything but a gimmie, ladies and gentlemen of the Big Blue Nation. The Wildcats have to show that they are progressing and not regressing, and this is a point in the season where regression is possible. Sharper execution, more focus and better intensity on the road will show this team is moving in the right direction.