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Kentucky Wildcats Morning Quickies: Champions Classic Edition

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Kentucky takes on the Kansas Jayhawks tonight in Chicago. Can youth be served, or will it be age over beauty?

Kentucky v Kansas Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Welcome to the Tuesday Morning Quickies, ladies and gentlemen of the Big Blue Nation. Today’s main topic of conversation will be about the only thing on the minds of Kentucky fans for the next 18 hours or so — tonight’s game in Chicago against the Kansas Jayhawks.

First, a quick recap of Kentucky’s most recent two performances:

  • Kentucky is averaging 1.06 points/possession on offense. That’s pretty anemic for such a talented group, and the main culprit is shot selection.
  • Kentucky is allowing 0.96 points per possession against modest competition. That’s because their defense is as loathsome as any I have seen in years, and this number must drop very soon.
  • Turnover percentage has been pretty poor at 20% and 15% respectively in its first two games against opponents who did not pressure the ball.
  • Some people are concerned about the 3-point shooting, and the percentage has been about as pedestrian as possible. Still, this team has capable shooters, and I don’t worry much about this.
  • Kentucky has been fairly weak on the offensive glass, but has been fairly good on the defensive rebounding side.
  • Assist percentage has been over 50% both games, a very promising sign. This team is willing to share the ball.

I don’t need to go into too much detail at this point — we all know what’s wrong and why. Kentucky is just painfully young and inexperienced, and it shows a lot more than it has in the past, because we’ve never been quite this young before. That’s going to hurt us early, and probably tonight as well.

The biggest point of concern in tonight’s contest is perimeter defense. Kansas is a perimeter team, and shot lights-out from the arc in their first game. They also have some serious interior beef that Kentucky can’t match — another reason for concern.

What Kentucky has going for it are two things — they can only get better from where they are now, and some of their better shooters have yet to get untracked. Their length at every position poses problems for everybody, but their lack of defensive positioning is going to lead to a bunch of layups and open threes off straight-line drives unless they tighten it up very quickly.

The betting line has Kansas -4.5, and I’d personally take Kansas if I were a betting man. They are more experienced, very competitive talent-wise, and are playing essentially a high-school all-star team right now. But Kansas can’t take the Wildcats lightly. Kentucky has better length, athleticism, and more high-skill players. As the old saying goes, quantity has a quality all its own.

Tweet of the Morning

Ah, well.

Your Quickies:

Kentucky football

The Louisville game is shaping up to look a lot like last year — first team to 40 points wins.

Kentucky basketball

“I was more for Maryland and N.C. State because they were local and he would have been the man from day one,” Chris Johnson said. “We went back and forth but he was sold on Kentucky. That was where he really, really wanted to go. He just wanted to be part of that tradition.”

You hear a lot of people say that Kentucky tradition does not matter to young players anymore. I guess that’s not always the case. But the elder Johnson is fine with his son’s decision:

“Oh yeah, 100 percent. I’m all in,” Johnson said. “That’s my guy and I’ll support him to the utmost because as an 18-year-old he knew where he wanted to be. I told him it was all hands on deck so we’ll definitely be wearing that blue.”

Other Kentucky sports
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  • This video from NASA will give you chills.