UK @ Florida – Preview

Posted by ibleedblue040 on January 18, 2008

After a stunning loss that leaves some Kentucky fans either upset, at the way the players performed, or upset, at the way the officials dictated the game and might have given the victory to Mississippi State, UK now has an even tougher challenge. They must travel to the always loud, always crazy arena that is the O’Connell Center. One story line that will be in the game thoughout is how Patrick Patterson decided to attend Kentucky over Florida among other schools. You can bet that he will here boos every time he touches the ball and gets called for a foul. Hopefully he can play through it even though he is a freshman.

Keys To The Game

The first key for victory for the ‘Cats will be containing the top freshman for the Gators Nick Calathes. Calathes leads the SEC in assists and reminds me of a young Jason Kidd, a tall point guard with uncanny passing and rebounding The point guard usually dictates a team’s outcome and that is especially the case in this situation since Calathes is one of the top freshman in the league. Kentucky did a good job stopping AJ Ogilvy against Vandy but struggled mightly against the top two players for Mississippi State, allowing JaMont Gordon to register a double-double and letting Jarvis Varnado to get only the third triple-double in school history. I have stated in just about all of my game previews that containing the best player for the team is a big key and that is true here.

The second key for the Wildcats is to make Florida take bad shots. Florida has one of the youngest, if not the youngest, teams in the SEC and it really should not be that hard to force them into bad shots. Florida leads the league in field-goal percentage shooting an unbelivable 50.8% from the field. If UK can get the rebounds off the missed shots they may be able to get some easy layups and dunks. The Gators also jack up a bunch of threes every game so if they happen to be in a shooting slump we may be able to keep it close even if we are stalling on the offensive end.

The third and final key to the game is for the Wildcat players to stay focused and not let the fans get inside their heads. Like I stated before Patrick Patterson will hear all kinds of boos and words I can not state but Patterson needs to tune them out and focus only on the game. The best way to block out the fans, even ones as livid and crazy as the Gator fans, is to make a lot of shots early and make some big plays that will completely take the fans out of the equation and make them not a factor. Another thing is that some of our players tend to get down when they make a bad play and they make the situation worse by making another bad play by changing their style because they are afraid of making another mistake.

Really those three things are not that big and should be managable. The biggest key of all will be Derrick Jasper and Jodie Meeks’ availability for the saturday night game. They completely change the game and when they are in the game we play much better, especially on the offensive end. Jasper also provides UK with a very good defender who changes the way the opposing guard plays because it is hard to make passes above and around a 6’5″ guard. Jasper played during the upset of Vanderbilt and he played a very significant role before re-injuring his surgically repaired knee right before the end of regulation, without him it will be very difficult to pull out the victory because he is really the only guy who can physically match up with Nick Calathes since he is 6’5″, about the same size as Calathes.

My prediction is that UK hangs around for a while but I just do not think they will pull out the victory. The reason I think this is because I do not see Derrick Jasper and Jodie Meeks playing so I think we will be limited in our depth. I think the final score will be 78-66 Florida, I think we will be down by about 3 at the half and they will gradually increase the lead throughout the second half.


Jan. 19 @ Florida

9:00 pm EST on ESPN


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