UK vs. Mississippi – Preview
Posted by ibleedblue040 on February 26, 2008
Kentucky takes on the Mississippi Rebels tomorrow in Rupp Arena in what is sure to be one of the biggest crowds in the arena’s history as each game UK plays begins to get more and more important to solidifying their tournament chances. I am sure that Kentucky understands the importance of winning this game because they can not afford to lose any games against underdogs. The only game that UK has a pass on is at Tennessee this coming sunday in Knoxville. Mississippi comes in to this game struggling worse than any team in the conference, losing 7 of their last 10 games, including 2 losses to Auburn, one to LSU, and one to South Carolina, probably the three worst teams in the Southeastern Conference. Kentucky on the other hand comes in on a blazing hot streak winning 8 of their last 9. The Wildcats are finding a way to get their big three in scoring positions and ways to get the ball in areas that they can do something with it. If UK gets all three of their best players good looks tomorrow I see no reason why Kentucky should leave with a loss.
KEYS TO THE GAME
The first KEY TO THE GAME is for Kentucky to keep the Rebel big men off of the offensive and defensive glass tomorrow. Ole Miss is the best overall rebounding team in the SEC ranking 1st in offensive boards with just over 15.5 per game and 2nd in defensive rebounds per game with about 25.5 in each game. Kentucky can ill-afford to be lackadasical on the glass because UK can not allow Mississippi to get easy put backs, they need to force the Rebels to earn each basket and to take contested jump shots far away from the basket. UK is dead last in the SEC in offensive rebounding so they will not have as many easy chances most likely so they need to also limit Ole Miss’ oppurtunities as well. Mississippi has three guys averaging 5.5 rebounds per game or better where as UK only has 1, that means that UK can not just single out one player to stop on the boards because if they focus only on one guy they will get burned by the other two rebounding beasts. It will take very good execution to keep the Rebel players off the boards but I feel that with just effort on UK’s end that they can easily accomplish their goal of winning the rebounding battle.
The second KEY TO THE GAME for UK to win tomorrow is to NOT TURN THE BALL OVER! Kentucky consistently turns the ball over more than their opponent. UK is virtually undefeated this season when they win the turnover battle. Even though they are on a pretty good winning streak right now they are still turning the ball over too much. UK has been beaten in the turnover battle in each of the last 8 games. That has to be one of the worst streaks in the nation in this category but they still seem to win. It would make it a lot easier to win if they just take care of the ball, give the ball to Ramel Bradley and let him run the team for 40 minutes. I do not want to see any Michael Porter in this game because he is a turnover waiting to happen when he is the only point guard in there. He does not always know where to go with the ball and half the time that he does he still makes a bad pass or makes the pass too early or too late. Kentucky seems to play better when they have a short bench and when they play the starters the majority of the game. The only exception to that is Mark Coury who, for some reason, always starts and then gets pulled and does not get back in the game.
The third and final KEY TO THE GAME against Mississippi tomorrow is to feed Patrick Patterson the ball. I have used this as a KEY in each of the past couple games but it is vitally important. The ‘Cats are 8-1 when Patterson scores at least 20 points this season, their only loss coming at home against San Diego two months ago. Another interesting fact is that in our streak of 8 wins in 9 games Patterson has attempted at least 10 shots in every game but one, the one time he did not was in the embarrasing loss to Vanderbilt. So the key here is for Patterson to get touches in the post and in places where he can actually make one move and score, and for him to attempt double digit shots. Anything under 10 shot attempts would not be enough because he is the piece of the offense that makes us go because it opens up the floor.
My prediction for the UK/Ole Miss game is that UK wins by a final score of 67-59. I think UK will be up by 11 or so for the last 8-10 minutes and Ole Miss will hit a few late shots to make the game seem closer than it really is. I think Billy Gillispie is a good enough coach to understand that Patrick Patterson needs touches in the post so I think Patterson will get a large number of post touches and I think he finishes with 17 points and 9 rebounds against the rebound stifling front line of Ole Miss.
Feb. 27 vs. Ole Miss
8:00 pm EST on ESPN Full Court and RAYCOM Sports