#11 UK vs. #6 Marquette – First Round Preview (NCAA Tournament Edition)
Posted by ibleedblue040 on March 16, 2008
Kentucky fans held a collective breath tonight as team after team was announced to participate in the NCAA Tournament, and finally, after two and a half brackets were announced Kentucky got their name called to play against Marquette in Anaheim, CA for the first round game of the tournament. Kentucky is trying to revenge an Elite Eight loss to the Golden Eagles in 2003 when Dwyane Wade became one of only 3 players to record a triple-double in a tournament game when he had 29-11-11 in his coming out party. Kentucky will have a lot to prove to a lot of people because many analysts are saying they got lucky and were put in ahead of more deserving teams. Jay Bilas of ESPN has been ripping the Cats all night about their lack of quality wins and about how they have not won any good games on the road all season, he is one of many that is outraged that Kentucky got in over Arizona State. Kentucky should be playing with a preverbial chip on their shoulder thursday against Marquette because of everyone’s criticism and for people questioning their validitity in the tournament. At least I hope that is the way Kentucky prepares for the game, because in UK’s game against Georgia Billy Gillispie did a very poor job of preparing the players mentally to play against a Bulldog team that was obviously going to come out hungry and have the ‘Us against the world’ mentality. This time Kentucky will be the team with everything to prove and nothing to lose, a situation Georgia perfected this weekend at the Southeastern Conference Tournament.
KEYS TO THE GAME
The first KEY TO THE GAME against Marquette will be to slow down Dominic James, the Golden Eagles’ second leading scorer and most important player. Marquette is 9-1 when James gets at least 17 points so if Kentucky can hold him under that point total then they should be right in the ball game when it matters the most. One way to slow James down is to lay off of him around the perimeter and force him to hit a three-point shot consistenly, which is something he has not proven he can do throughout his three year career. James only shoots 31.7% from behind the arc this year but whenever he is hitting his shots Marquette is a very tough team to beat. Whenever Dominic James makesmore than one three pointer in a game Marquette is 9-2 this season with losses coming @ Notre Dame by 3 and @ West Virginia, two NCAA Tournament teams. Marquette is at their best when James plays effective and smart basketball on the offensive end, that is why whenever James shoots near 50% from the field for the game the Golden Eagles usually win. Kentucky could try to crowd James and force him to either make great plays or to pass it because he has 15 games this season in which he has at least 3 turnovers, a stat that is #1 in the Big East Conference, but James is so quick that unless you have an equally quick guard who plays smart defense, which Kentucky does not, then you should not do that.
The other KEY TO THE GAME for Kentucky against Marquette on thursday is for the senior leaders Joe Crawford and Ramel Bradley step up and play like veterans against the Golden Eagles. Ramel Bradley played horrible for 38 minutes on saturday against Georgia and that kind of performance will not win a game on thursday as it did not against the Georgia Bulldogs, Marquette might have the best perimeter defense in the country with four players averaging at least 1.0 steal per game this season. Jerel McNeal leads the team with an eye popping 2.2 spg, a stat that is good enough to put him second in the Big East. Marquette leads the Big East in steals per game as a team with almost 9.5 spg, and all the UK fans know that Kentucky really loves to give the ball away, they lead the SEC in turnovers and assist/turnover differential. Only two players for Kentucky that get any playing time have more assists on the year than turnovers and they are Ramel Bradley, a guy that UK will depend upon to make plays and set up the offense when everything gets hectic for everyone else, and Derrick Jasper, a player that really needs to play some defense against Jerel McNeal and Wesley Matthews.
The third and final KEY TO THE GAME against Marquette on thursday is for Kentucky to start off the game strong by playing good defense and converting open looks on the offensive end of the floor. Kentucky got down against Georgia very quickly and found themselves in a 16-4 hole not even 10 minutes into the game against the Bulldogs, that can not happen thursday or Kentucky will not be in the game very long because unlike the Wildcats Marquette starts off fast just about every game they play in. One reason why Kentucky starts off slow in just about every game is because coach Gillispie loves to start Mark Coury for some reason. Coury, in my mind, is the worst player I have ever seen suit up for Kentucky in the 10+ years that I have watched Kentucky Basketball. Coury always seems to either pick up an unneccesary foul or drops a pass when he has a clear lane to the basket when all he needs to do is catch the ball and finish. Also Coury is a very unreliable free throw shooter. He only shoots 52.9% from the free throw line this season and has only made 3 of his last 6 free throws over the last 8 games. I have no idea why Gillispie continues to start Coury because he always makes the team play worse when he is in there. When he left the game against Georgia we were already down 10-3 and had to dig ourselves out of that hole the entire game and we were not able to do so in the end. Had Perry Stevenson just started the game instead of coming off the bench after 4 minutes I seriously doubt we would have been down 10-3 and Zac Swansey would never have been in the situation to win the game because the game would never have gone to overtime. My solution is to start Perry Stevenson and to tell Ramon Harris not to get in foul trouble because if he does AJ Stewart will come into the game and with him only being a freshman I would not feel comfortable with him in the game.
How They Match Up
|Team Name||W/L Record||RPI (As of 3/16)||SOS||PPG||Def. PPG||RPG||APG||Turnovers PG||A/TO Ratio||Record vs. RPI Top 50||Last 12 games|
|Kentucky Wildcats||18-12 (12-4)||57||20||68.6||65.33||33.7||12.7||15.9||1/1.3||4-6||9-3|
|Marquette Golden Eagles||24-9 (11-7)||20||17||75.91||64.31||36.6||14.8||13.2||1.1/1||4-8||8-4|
Prior Tournament Results
Kentucky and Marquette have met in the NCAA Tournament 2 times since the field was expanded to 64 teams (And later to 65 teams) and Marquette has won both meetings.
March 20, 1994
(6)Marquette 75, (3)Kentucky 63
Kentucky lost to Marquette in this matchup in the NCAA Southeast Regional Second Round (at St. Petersburg, FL). Damon Key led the Golden Eagles with 25 points and 6 rebounds while Tony Delk led the Wildcats with 24 points of his own.
March 29, 2003
Marquette 83, Kentucky 69
Every Kentucky and Marquette fan remembers this game because it was the first time that the nation was introduced to a player that is now a world-known NBA player who has already won an NBA title, his name is Dwyane Wade. Like I said earlier Wade became the third player to record a triple-double in an NCAA Tournament game when he dropped 26-11-11 on Kentucky in front of 28,383 people in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Kentucky was led in that game by Keith Bogans and Gerald Fitch who each scored 15 points in the losing effort.
March 20 vs. Marquette