UK @ Vanderbilt – Preview
Posted by ibleedblue040 on February 10, 2008
Words can not express how important Tuesday’s 9:00 pm game at Vanderbilt is for the University of Kentucky basketball team, OK maybe they can but Tuesday’s game is vitally important for UK and might set them on a path to the NCAA tournament if they can pull off another upset. Kentucky needs to finish at least 6-2 in the final 8 games to have a chance to make the tournament in my opinion and a couple wins in the Southeastern Conference Tournament would not hurt either. If Kentucky were to win this game that might be just the jumpstart they were looking for to finish strong. Vanderbilt is really one of the only tough teams remaining on the UK schedule and if they can upset the Commodores they should be looking at a pretty long winning streak. After the Vandy game the ‘Cats play at LSU and then head back to Rupp Arena to take on Georgia, Arkansas & Mississippi. The Wildcats should be able to win the three home games and beat LSU in Baton Rouge, and if they can manage to stun the Commodores at home that would extend their winning streak to 10 games and set their record at (17-9, 11-2) overall. Their will be no way that the critics will be able to ignore a club that is 11-2 in their conference riding a 10 game winning streak heading into a game at Tennessee. What I am saying is, for UK to have ANY chance at making the NCAA tournament they MUST beat all of the teams that they are favored to beat and the must upset a team or two. There are only three games that I can legitamitely see us losing and those are: at Vandy, at Tennessee & in Rupp vs. Florida. I would rather beat Tennessee and lose the other two because UT is the only team that gaines national respect and everyone in America will be watching that game, people still do not think Florida is for real (Maybe so) and people think Vandy is a team that loaded up against weak non-conference teams to pad their record (And probably so). If Kentucky finishes 6-2 they will be at (18-11, 12-4), and a team with that record that has potentially 3-4 wins against top 25 schools and has Kentucky written across their jersies will be hard to deny.
KEYS TO THE GAME
After that brief lecture about the importance of this game let me get right to the KEYS TO THE GAME. The first KEY TO THE GAME is for UK to come out strong and attack early. Kentucky did a PHENOMENAL job against Vanderbilt the first time by starting off with an early lead, UK almost always falls behind early and has to catch up the whole game, I do not think that if we are trailing by more than 4-6 points in the second half that we will be able to come back against Vandy, they showed us in the first meeting that they can score points in bunches as they did in the second half against us. We started quickly last game by getting offensive rebounds off of our own misses. UK had a 10-0 run in the first half that included three offensive boards on one play that resulted in a made three-point basket. We must play like that again Tuesday, never give up on balls and out-hustle Vanderbilt to the basketball. Vanderbilt is quicker at every position except for Center (Patrick Patterson over AJ Ogilvy) so UK must make up for it by playing harder than the Commodores. UK took a 23-10 lead in the first half only 11 minutes into the game in the first meeting but let the lead slip away, I feel that if we can start off fast again that we are much better at keeping a lead now than we were in early January, the first time we played them.
The second KEY TO THE GAME against Vanderbilt is for UK to guard against the perimeter jumper of Vandy. Vanderbilt shoots better from three-point range than anyone in the conference so UK must make sure that they do not allow too many open looks from downtown. In the last game against Alabama UK did a great job in limiting open shot attempts and only allowed them to shoot 4-17 from behind the arc. One reason that I think it was so easy in the Alabama game is because Richard Hendrix was not in the game so we did not have to worry about doubling down on their back up post players. If I were Coach Gillispie I would let our guys play straight up man-on-man defense in the post. That means no doubling down when they feed the post. In my opinion Patrick Patterson is more than capable of defending AJ Ogilvy one-on-one in the post without fouling. I would much rather run the risk of Ogilvy throwing up some hook shots over Patterson than doubling down and allowing Shan Foster or Alex Gordon to get some three-point attempts. Vanderbilt might be the best team in the SEC at making contested three-point shots. When UK played them the last time, Shan Foster hit numerous second half threes with Joe Crawford in his face and everyone knows the Gordon is just as capable. Other than Ogilvy Vanderbilt does not have a big man with actual post moves capable of getting a shot off any time he wants.
The third and final KEY TO THE GAME against Vanderbilt is the most important one too. I said it before the first meeting between these two teams and I will say it again: GUARD SHAN FOSTER ALL OVER THE COURT!!!! Kentucky can not afford for Shan Foster to get loose and get open looks at the basket. He is the second best shooter in the conference (Chris Lofton is the best) and he is tall and long so unless you are right in his face he can get a shot off with ease. What I think UK should do is play man-to-man and have somebody face guard Foster for 40 minutes. I would say Ramel Bradley should but he is not tall enough to guard Foster. I would put either Joe Crawford or Ramon Harris on him at all times and make sure he does not get the ball and if he does to make sure that there is two hands in his face at all times. If Foster has another 20 point game against the Wildcats there is no way that they will walk out of there with a win.
If UK were to somehow complete all three KEYS TO THE GAME I think that they may stun Vanderbilt again and set the tone for the games to come. Two things that UK must do on the offensive side of the ball are to cut play smart with the ball and to get Ramel Bradley involved as much as possible. UK WILL NOT win if they turn the ball over 20 times and they probably will not win if Ramel Bradley gets under 20 points so they must make sure they try to do those things.
My prediction for the game is that UK plays very well and wins 66-63. I think we will play a great game on Shan Foster and limit him to around 14 points or so and I think Patrick Patterson has about 22 points and 9 rebounds.
Feb. 12 @ Vanderbilt
9:00 pm EST on ESPN