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Tomorrow evening the Cats of Kentucky travel down to Auburn, Alabama to face off with Tony Barbee and the Auburn Tigers. The Tigers (11-10/3-7 SEC) are led by Senior guard Chris Denson, one of the top scoring guards during Barbee’s 4 years (and possibly his last year)  at Auburn. It will be another tough road test for the Cats, as it was #3 Florida, as the Tigers played the Gators to a very close 7 point loss. The Wildcats (18-5/8-2 SEC) are coming off of a 10 point win over the Marshall Henderson led Mississippi St. Bulldogs in Lexington. Here are a few keys that will be crucial for the Cats to win:

Keep an eye out for Chris Denson

Henson leads the Tigers averaging 20 points a game, meaning whoever is put on him will have to play lock down defense. Denson is no pushover by any means, and if he hits a couple of shots, his confidence will boost and it could be a long night for the Cats defensively. He was shut down last year by a less talented Kentucky team though. If they are able to shut down Benson, KT Harrell is the second option for Auburn. Harrell and Denson are not really known as a defensive stoppers, so as long as the Harrison’s can control the tempo and limit turnovers, the Cats should coast in this one.

Feed Julius the ball

The double-double machine Randle has been on a tear this season and is arguably one of the best freshman in the country. As Kenny Payne stated in the pregame interview yesterday, if Randle gets the ball, and the double or triple teams occur (which should happen with a less than stellar front-court for the Tigers) Randle could become a facilitator for this Kentucky team. If this team can build a little confidence from beyond the arc this team can become scary good during tournament time. Randle still has an issue when it comes to double teams such as putting up bad shots, or turning the ball over. He has  recently to improved getting the ball to the open players when the double and triple teams occur. With a average to below average front-court, I think he will be okay..for this game at least.

Transition Defense

Okay, I know it’s a little bit under 5 weeks until selection Sunday, but this team’s transition defense does not seem like it has improved much since the beginning of the season. A lot of times players get caught staring at the basket, NOT BOXING OUT, or just getting physically outplayed by it’s opponents. Guys are not getting back after made or missed shots and it’s really hurting this team. I get frustrated and catch myself yelling at the television when I notice players not getting back in transition and opponents taking the ball right to the basket. This HAS to stop, or Auburn will beat us tomorrow, and Florida will destroy us Saturday.

This team has all the pieces to put a nice run together in the SEC tournament, and the NCAA tournament, but there is still work to be done. Despite being a way more talented team than the Tigers, the Cats are only favored currently by 9 points, which if you ask me seems a little low. I have no doubt that the Cats should be able to work inside on the depleted front-court of the Tigers and take a win on the road. As we have learned this season though, anything can happen.  Coach Cal will definitely have his team ready, and I expect the cats to walk (or ice skate) their way out of Auburn with a W.

C-A-T-S! CATS CATS CATS!!!