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Tonight, we get a rematch with our first-round opponent from last year’s NCAA tournament as the first game of the season as the Kentucky Wildcats welcome the East Tennessee St. Buccaneers into Rupp Arena.
First of all, the game particulars courtesy of UKAthletics.com:
|ETSU @ Kentucky|
|Game Notes||Kentucky Game Notes | ETSU Game Notes|
|Date & Time||Fri., Nov. 12, 7:00 p.m. ET|
|Coverage||TV: FS South / SportSouth / BBSN
This is an ETSU team that has been to the NCAA tournament the last two years and looks like a lock to be heading for a third trip in a row out of the Atlantic Sun Conference. ETSU is a skilled basketball team with many mature players who will be a serious challenge for the young and untested Kentucky Wildcats.
The Wildcats come into tonight’s game on a bit of a downer after Enes Kanter was declared permanently ineligible yesterday. That means that Coach Cal will have to decide how much of the DDM UK can play this year, and whether or not their size will force a defensive change later on. Obviously it won’t force one tonight, but it will be interesting to see his personnel mix coming out of the gate.
First, a look at the ETSU roster:
East Tennessee St. Buccaneers Basketball Roster
|Isiah Brown||41||F||Fourth-year junior, 11 in NCAAT||210||6-8||junior|
|Mike Smith||1||F||Fifth-year senior||225||6-6||senior|
|Adam Sollazzo||43||G||Scored 14 in NCAAT||200||6-6||junior|
|Justin Tubbs||3||G||Fifth-year senior, 15 in NCAAT||205||6-3||senior|
|Micah Williams||30||G||Fifth-year senior, 19 in NCAAT||220||6-4||senior|
ETSU is a talented team that will run the floor and defend. They are athletic at every position and even though they don’t have a size advantage on Kentucky, they do match up with us very well both size-wise and athletically. These are talented, vastly experienced college players who are capable of pulling an upset against major Division I competition.
What Kentucky must do to win:
- Rebound the basketball. ETSU had an OR% of 36% last year, and they return almost everybody;
- See #1 above;
- Defend the perimeter. ETSU wasn’t a great 3-point shooting team last year, but they got better as the year went on;
- Create turnovers. ETSU turned it over a lot last year.
- Take care of the basketball. ETSU was 14th in the nation in creating turnovers last year.
What Kentucky can do to lose:
- Jack up a bunch of threes. UK needs to get to the line a lot, and to do that, they must drive the ball;
- Fail to defend the dribble. UK so far has been very weak at defending the dribble, and they must do so versus ETSU;
- Play passive on defense. ETSU’s weakness is taking care of the ball. UK needs to force them to turn it over;
- Allow ETSU’s pressure defense to push them away from the basket. UK needs to force ETSU onto their heels with quickness and intensity;
- Go late into the shot clock. Kentucky must get into their offense early to take advantage of mismatches and draw fouls.
- Be thinking about how they need Kanter. Forget him, at least for now.
This is actually quite a good early test for Kentucky, and we’ll see just how far Coach Cal has brought them over the last week. He worked wonders between Pikeville and Dillard. Now, let’s see what a little more time can do.