Welcome to the Kentucky Wildcats vs. Ole Miss Rebels basketball game, the first time Kentucky has played since December 27th. During that time, they have been going through Camp Cal, and hopefully they will come out on the other side ready to play.
Tonight’s foe is the Ole Miss Rebels, a team which has a lot of good guards but very few quality big guys. If the guards play well and make shots from the perimeter as well as get to the line against Kentucky, the Rebels can give the Wildcats some difficulty. If they don’t make shots, turn the ball over, and try to get into the paint against Kentucky from the perimeter, all they are going to do is start a lot of fast breaks for the Wildcats.
Operating in the Rebels’ favor is their experience, which is considerable. Operating to their detriment is a comprehensive lack of size, which Kentucky will be able to exploit, or should be able to.
What I am looking for tonight:
Good ballhandling — Ole Miss is not really a pressure team. They force almost 20% turnovers, which is roughly the Division I average. Kentucky should be able to take care of the ball and get good shots.
Continued good 3-point shooting — The Wildcats seem to be coming out of their 3-point funk, and nothing would put this game out of reach sooner than Kentucky shooting it well from the arc.
Attack the rim — The Rebels are not exactly replete with shot blockers, so Kentucky needs to attack the rim and either kick it to the open shooter or finish inside. Ole Miss’ guards are not small, but Kentucky’s are huge (except, of course, for Ulis, but he doesn’t need to be).
Be focused — The tendency, after coming off a layoff, is to be unfocused and lack intensity. I don’t want to sit through a sleepwalk, even if it turns out to be a victory.
This is a game Kentucky should win. They are better at almost every position (Jarvis Summers possibly excepted), deeper, and more talented. If you can’t win with that, what good are you? But seriously, Kentucky must respect their opponent and play them as if they are standing between the Wildcats and NCAA Tournament championship #9. If they do that, they should be fine.