After a rough end to 2016, the Cats have bounced back nicely and reassumed their winning ways with Thursday night’s win over Mizzou. (Click HERE for a post-game recap by Warren Taylor.) Can they continue to assert their will on the SEC and walk out of Memorial today with a W over Texas A&M?
The answer is complicated. Let’s do a quick SWOT analysis of A&M to see how they compare to our Cats.
TAMU is currently 1-1 in SEC play, and 11-4 overall. Kentucky will be the first ranked team they’ve faced this season. Their RPI is currently ranked at 41st in the country to Kentucky’s 12th. In the SEC, they’re in a three way tie for 1st with 17 average assists per game, 3rd in free throw shooting (74.9%), fourth in overall shooting percentage (45.1%) and middle to bottom of the pack in everything else.
In looking at the Aggies’ overall stats, they are a very good shooting club (45.1% to UK’s 42.6%), to include FT shooting (74.9% to our 73.3%). They are aggressive on defense, averaging 8.3 steals per game to our 6.6% and rebound the ball well, averaging 41 per game to our 38.
The Aggie roster doesn’t have a ton of height, but they do have three players who are averaging double figures a game in Danni Williams, Khaalia Hillsman, and Anriel Howard. They also have one of the most experiences coaches in the country in Gary Blair, a Hall of Fame Coach who led the Aggies to a National title in 2011, and has taken three different schools to the Women’s Final Four. (Never, ever discount a coach with that much experience. It’s as much of a tool as anything in the game.)
Fortunately for us, the game is in Lexington, and BBN likes to show up for the big games. This one definitely qualifies.
How can Kentucky win today?
- A&M is going to press. We can’t let them succeed at it. The Cats will need to force TAMU to play their game AND they’re going to have to shake things off quickly if mistakes are made. One thing I really love about this squad is how much they care about winning. It can be a double edged sword though, if mistakes start messing with their heads.
- Shot selection, shot selection, shot selection! It’s always important but especially critical against a full court press who’s trying to harass you into making dumb shots. Zen is key.
- FREE THROWS. They make them. We need to as well.
- Khaalia Hillsman is not only 6’5”, she’s a ridiculously good shooter at 62%, and leads TAMU in blocks. Our goal with her is simple: deny her the ball, both offensively and defensively.
- Our best players have to be present and on their game from tip to final horn.
I don’t anticipate this to be anything other than a grind it out game, which won’t be pretty to watch but will be packed with drama...in other words, a classic SEC battle. Happily for us, it’s televised on the SEC Network.
Tipoff is at 2 PM EST. Until then, Cats fans...Go Big Blue!!!