UK vs. South Carolina – Preview
Posted by ibleedblue040 on January 24, 2008
Their are many different scenarios that can unfold at Rupp Arena this saturday night when the UK Wildcats host South Carolina in an intruiging matchup of ranked opponent killer vs. the team that will give you everything its got but probably will not win. South Carolina will come into the game fresh off a near upset of the Florida Gators in which the Gators underestimated the Gamecocks. Hopefully that will not happen to the ‘Cats. Kentucky is coming into saturday with a win over the #3 team in the nation in which they played almost the entire game to perfection to stun the Volunteers, the roles will be reversed for this one because USC will be the one trying to spoil Kentucky’s momentum and officially kill their slight dreams of making the NCAA tournament. Kentucky has had a hard time stopping USC’s guards the last couple years, allowing Tre’ Kelley to drop 30 on UK last season. That will be one of the keys for the game on saturday for Kentucky to get this pretty realistic win.
KEYS TO THE GAME
The first key has already been touched on and that is the fact that UK must stop South Carolina’s guards. Devan Downey, a Cincinnati transfer, leads the team and is 2nd in the conference with 19.9 ppg and also is 3rd in the conference with a 5.0 apg average. UK must slow him down for them to be successful. When Downey scores under 20 points the Gamecoks are only 3-6 and have lost to some pretty weak teams like George Mason and UNC-Asheville in a couple games that he has not reached the 20 point plateau. If Kentucky just gets in his jersey as they did to Chris Lofton UK should win this one pretty handely.
The second key to the game is to crash the boards hard and get second chance points. USC is 2nd to last in rebound defense allowing over 38 rpg and if guys like Perry Stevenson and Patrick Patterson can perform like they did against Tennessee then we should get at least 40 rebounds in the game. The only problem is that UK is a horrible rebounding team, we rank 2nd to last in rebound offense at 35 rpg and so we are actually at a disadvantage on the boards even with Carolina being so weak on the boards. Another stat that UK must control is turnover margin. USC is second in the league in TO margin and UK is second……to last in TO margin. South Carolina forces 3 more turnovers than they commit so they know how to handle the ball and control tempo, UK turns the ball over 1.8 more times per game than they force them and that MUST change, Kentucky will not even win these kind of games with poor TO stats like these. Ramel Bradley needs to get up in the jersey of Devan Downey as he did to the best pure scorer in the conference two nights ago Chris Lofton. Downey’s assist/TO ratio is not even 2:1 and for a player who plays point guard as much as Downey does that is not a good number. Again though UK is worse then USC at areas that they are extremely weak at, Ramel Bradley only has 5 more assists than TO’s on the season, that stat is very misleading though because first off he does not play the PG position as much as Downey and UK feeds the post much more than Carolina which will result in fewer assist chances because unless the player goes straight up without making the move there will not be an assist oppurtunity.
The third and probably most important key will be to still play the same way and with the same concentration as they did against UT, even though Carolina is one of the weaker teams in the conference they proved the other day against Florida that if you are in one of those look ahead mind sets with them they can stun you or at least come close to. If Devan Downey is on and the rest of the team is hitting shots then they will be hard to beat because UK is one of the weakest three point shooting teams in the league and they will most likely lose a shooting match with USC unless Meeks, Crawford, and Bradley are on fire. I do not expect Downey to score over 20 and hit a lot of threes because Ramel will be in his grill all night and when Ramel gets motivated or angry he is impossible to score on and Lofton found that out the hard way, with a nearly scoreless second half and a L in the win/loss column.
I think UK will win pretty convincingly at home against the Gamecocks, I see them winning by a score of 76-61 and I think it will be in large part due to Patrick Patterson who I think exposes the weak interior D that USC has and drops 23 & 11 on the ‘Cocks. Gillispie will make sure that UK does not look ahead a couple games and he will have them physically and especially mentally ready to be in the mindset to crush the Gamecocks as hard as possible.
Jan. 26 vs. South Carolina
1:00 pm EST on ESPN