It is safe to assume that all of Kentucky’s remaining games will be close. On the road at Missouri Saturday should be no different. Kentucky is listed as the underdog. The Tigers are coming off an impressive 69-60 win at Alabama on Wednesday night. Overall their record is 14-8 and 4-5 in conference play. With 8 losses at the beginning of February it is hard to imagine them getting an at-large tournament invite. But a big win against Kentucky would make a major difference. So expect Cuonzo Martin’s team to bring the energy and desperation needed for a victory. UK should be used to that by now. I expect the Cats to match their competitive spirit and play well on the road.
This summer I had this game firmly circled on my calendar. The #1 player in the class of 2017 Michael Porter Jr was a tremendous edition to the SEC. However, he shut down his season before it really began due to an injury. Leaving some to speculate (myself included) on whether or not he ever had intentions to suit up and play for Missouri. That being said, it is also hard to throw any shade his way. Assuming he is healed and completes summer draft work outs he will still be a lottery pick. If MPJ was playing, I’d expect that Kentucky would be enjoying it’s 3rd straight college gameday. Also star freshman Blake Harris recently transferred to NCST. Disappointing. 😩
Photo Credit: Gannett-cdn.com
Keys to the game:
1. DO NOT GET DOWN 14+ POINTS! This one needs no explanation.
2. Guard somebody! We are still showing an inability to stay in front of a driving opponent. Hami allowing Lachance a free pass to the basket in the final seconds of Tuesday’s game made my stomach ache. It was a pitiful effort. No other way to put it. With our athleticism, it begins to make you wonder… is it a skill or a will issue? Kentucky is giving up over 70 points a game. We really need to dig in on our defensive principals over the next 6 weeks. Vanderbilt shot 48% from the field in the last game. Not gonna cut it. I would be thrilled if we can hold Missouri to under 65 points and less than 42% FGs. Bottom line: Gaurd somebody.
3. Knox/Hami/Shai – As thrilled as the BBN has been with the recent play of Knox and Alexander, we have been equally frustrated with Hami Diallo. I keep reiterating that for this team to become special all 3 of these guys must play at a high level. We are two thirds of the way there. It has been painful to watch Hami play his matador reach around defense in hopes a teammate will steal the ball and throw it to him for a breakaway dunk. Ideally, he can begin to let his defense create some offense. I have faith in Hami. He is a baller. It will show when we need it the most.
4. Mizzou Big Man – Keep an eye out for talented freshman center Jeremiah Tilmon. He went 6-6 from the field in their last game. He is a load. Mizzou fans have to be super salty about missing out on the trio of MPJ/Harris/Tilmon. As a basketball fan I feel bad for them, as a Kentucky fan I do not. But the Tigers still have a talented roster capable of an upset.
UK – 76
MIZZOU – 73
Photo Credits: ESPN
Here are the highlights from last year’s game.