Merry Christmas Eve, Eve everyone as we our now just two days away from the big guy, Santa,. I expect he will be stopping by thousands of houses around the Commonwealth, delivering Kentucky fans a victory this coming Saturday while providing speeding tickets, hacks and coal to our beloved rival Louisville.
As we go through the week, I plan to blog various Battle of the Bluegrass pieces, this one focusing on the match ups Kentucky will most likely see Saturday in Rupp. Let’s take a look at the guards first.
The 1-2 positions will win this game in my eyes. Both teams will start very different guards. Kentucky will throw out the twins Aaron and Andrew Harrison with James Young who are all taller and stronger guards. Louisville sends out smaller but very fast guys in a preseason all-american Russ Smith with Chris Jones and Terry Rozier.
Kentucky will look to use their size on the offensive end to their advantage. Louisville will press hard as Rick Pitino loves to do, trying to break the younger UK guards but with their size and talent I believe breaking the press won’t be an issue.
With that, Andrew must be the offensive leader this team needs. I know we are hearing Aaron has been stepping up off the court which is fine but John Calipari teams are led by the true point man so he must play like the #1 ranking he came in with. If he does not, expect to see more Dominique Hawkins and possibly Jarrod Polson as well.
As for the defense, by the main guards, all three must communicate and get out on shooters. Russ Smith will most likely get his but shutting down the three ball/penetration of Jones/Rozier means you most likely win as I expect the inside game to go to UK.
As for that inside game, Kentucky is again the much bigger team around the paint. Starting seven-foot center Willie Cauley-Stein, 6’8 Julius Randle with seven-foot Dakari Johnson, 6’10 Marcus Lee and 6’8 Alex Poythress off the bench. Louisville brings to Lexington 6’7 Chane Behanan, 6’8 Montrezl Harrel, 6’7 Stephen Van Treese and 6’7 Wayne Blacksher.
Looking at the numbers alone show the overall size of the Cats. They are currently 7th Nationally in rebounding with a top five rebounder Nationally in Randle and shot blocker in Cauley-Stein who has 50 swats. The Cards sit 20th in rebounding and leading shot blocker Mango Mathiang has 16.
Now, the forward position will again be a mixture of guys we have mentioned. Also a position that could be a wash come Saturday. Kentucky can and will use Aaron Harrison, Young, Poythress, Randle and possibly Derek Willis on the wing. Louisville seems to use Luke Hancock and Wayne Blacksher primarily on the wing when not in a three guard lineup. This is one to keep an eye on and one I am in the air about. Go Cats!
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