It's been a pretty awesome weekend to be a Wildcat: Kentucky men's basketball torched upstart South Carolina on the road,the #25 GymCats upset #15 Mizzou (they were especially good on beam and floor), and The Hittin' Kittens opened their season in fantastic style at the Kajikawa Classic by beating #4 Oregon and #25 Notre Dame (who the heck knew Kelsey Nunley could hit as well as she hurls?) And let's not forget the fantastic showing by our NBA Cats up in Toronto for the All-Star Game, with Karl Anthony Towns beating out his BBN Brothers Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins for the trophy.
Last but not least, UK Hoops has a chance to go and break Vandy's heart by returning the favor of a loss on their home court. I've heard revenge is best served cold but in the spirit of the day, I'm hoping it's going to taste extra sweet.
Let's go back in time to January 28th: The Cats hosted Vandy at Memorial. 6 ties and 11 lead changes later, the 'Dores left Lexington with the W. How did they do it? They put on three-point shooting clinic, hitting 10 of 24. That really was the point of differentiation: not turnovers (The Cats had 12), not excessive fouls (no one fouled out on either team), not missed free throws (both team shot over 73%). When you hit ten of them and the other team hits 3, and everything else is pretty comparable? You're going to win the game.
So, how can Kentucky spoil Vandy's day at Memorial Gym, and move to 6-6 in the SEC standings?
- This seems a little obvious but I'm listing it first just so it's super-duper obvious: GUARD THE THREE. Actually guard a pair of them in Vandy's #33 Christa Reed, who shot 5/9 in the last game and is 43% on the season, along with #3 Rachel Bell, who hit three of them against UK and has 95 on the season. (There's a whole three theme going here. MAKE IT STOP, CATS.)
- And while you're preventing them from hitting threes, hit a few of your own. The Cats still lead the conference in 3 point shooting, hitting 36.7%. But number #2 is Vandy at 36%. Janee Thompson can do some serious damage here, and if Maci Morris is feeling it? Watch out.
- Be aggressive on defense. It's going to be another episode of SEC Women's
Thunderdome MMABasketball, where the ladies basically claw, scratch and beat the tar out of one another on their way to victory. If our bigs embrace that up front (and can defend without fouling) we stand a solid chance.
- Let Makayla do her thing. A bye week couldn't have come at a better time for this squad. The rest should have allowed some healing time, now go use it to your advantage.
No road game is easy - Vandy is 10-3 at home - but if the Cats come out fighting at the tip and can maintain that energy for 40 minutes, we have a great shot at a win. You can catch all the action beginning at 4 PM EST on the SEC Network, or by tuning in to hear Neil Price call the action on 630 WLAP.
Until gametime, Cat fans - GO BIG BLUE! (And Happy Valentine's Day too!)