UK @ Auburn – Preview
Posted by ibleedblue040 on February 6, 2008
Kentucky comes into Wednesday night’s game more battered and bruised than ever before. With Ramel Bradley‘s status still up in the air and Jodie Meeks unlikely to play UK will again be thin in their depth and in their rotation. With Joe Crawford in the lineup last weekend against Georgia UK actually did not seem to miss a beat without their senior floor general who had been playing as well as any player in the Southeastern Conference prior to the injury. In this week’s SEC teleconference Billy Gillispie said that it isn’t the concussion symptoms that are bothering him, it is the viral infection that has plagued him for over a week now. But Bradley still has a better chance to play than injured Sophmore sensation Jodie Meeks who has been out with a hip injury for a week and a half or so, Meeks has made “no progress” according to Gillispie so the immediate future does not look great for Meeks who was the ‘Cats top three-point threat early in the season
KEYS TO THE GAME
The first KEY TO THE GAME will be taking alot of shots and taking shots that are within each player’s range. Auburn is dead last in the SEC in field-percentage defense and if UK can simply go at the Tigers on offense they should be able to shoot a high percentage even if the shots are not great shots. Auburn is also second to last in three-point percentage defense so Auburn is not a great defensive team in all phases of the game. Georgia was not a great defensive team either and UK picked them apart by attacking the lane aggresively and by taking smart shots. Even without Bradley and Meeks, UK still has some pretty good outside shooters, Joe Crawford and Michael Porter both shoot a high percentage from three and can and will knock down the open shot. Derrick Jasper has also shown signs of improvement throughout the year and can hit a shot from deep if you completely ignore him. Basically the only PG, SG, or SF that cannot shoot outside very well is Ramon Harris who is a lousy 4-19 from three but for some reason (that I do not know) he still attempts them. I will say it again, UK WILL beat Auburn as long as they do not take stupid shots or shots that are out of the shooter’s range. For example, Ramon Harris should not take a three-pointer no matter what.
The second KEY TO THE GAME is for UK to crash the boards. Again Auburn is last in the SEC in rebouding offense averaging only 34 RPG. There is no excuse for Kentucky to get out-rebounded because none of the injured players are post players and UK has the best post player out of either team in Freshman star Patrick Patterson. Patterson definitely should have atleast 7-8 rebounds because he has such a strength advantage and height advantage over any of the bigs from Auburn. The Tigers only outrebound their opponents by 1 per game and Kentucky should capitalize on that shining weakness by exploiting it. The way to do that is by boxing out and crashing the boards with four and sometimes all five guys to try to get second oppurtunities. If UK boxes out Auburn should not get ANY second choice points or rebounds.
The third and final KEY TO THE GAME is for UK to feed Patrick Patterson the ball and let him try to score down low, and for our guys to attack the basket hard. Auburn is last in yet another statistical category and that is blocked shots. Auburn is horrible at shot blocking due to the fact that they do not have very much height and Patterson struggles when his shots are contested and blocked (i.e. Florida, Louisville), but in just about every other game in which he is not blocked or contested he get his “typical” 17 points and 8 rebounds. Joe Crawford needs to stick to his guns and drive to the rim and draw some quick fouls on the little height that they do have.
These KEYS TO THE GAME may seem like small tasks and they are, but if they do not execute them the right way UK could easily leave Auburn with a loss. Auburn feeds off of their home crowd for support, especially Frank Tolbert. This is the first game that I have left out containing the star player as one of the KEYS TO THE GAME because Tolbert is so inconsistent that he seems to cancel himself out on occasions. If Ramel Bradley plays UK WILL walk out with a win because he is such a big part of the offense and he really leads the team with his words and his actions.
My prediction, regardless of whether Bradley plays, is UK leaves with a 66-59 win. I think we will be winning by a bigger margin but Auburn will get some garbage buckets and make the game look closer than it really is. Joe Crawford is flat out unstoppable when he is determined to drive to the basket and I doubt that anyone on Auburn could stop JC to save their life. Kentucky never seems to blow teams out on the final scoreboard but a lot of times they do blow them out in the statistical sheet and usually win alot of crucial statistical categories when they win the game. I think UK will definitely be focused on the game, especially if Bradley does not play, because they will know that they are short handed so they will have to play a better game to deal with the players that are missing.
Feb. 6 @ Auburn
8:00 pm EST on ESPN Full Court