Even though Kentucky has yet to play a game this week, there has been a lot of activity on the homefront leading up to the SEC tournament.
The Cats will be without Jarred Vanderbilt today due to a sprained ankle suffered in practice. There is no defined timetable for his return. Sigh…..
Then shortly after the Vando news broke it was announced that Michael Porter Jr would play for Missouri in their match up with Georgia. Wait, what? I was in shock when I heard that news. It seemed definite that we would not see MPJ play until he was in the NBA. It ended up not working out very well for the Tigers. Porter Jr shot 5-17 from the field and Georgia prevailed setting to today’s meeting with Kentucky.
So here we are. The Cats vs the Dawgs in the quarter finals of the SEC tournament.
The game will be played in St. Louis at 3 pm on ESPN.
Kentucky beat Georgia by 5 on New Year’s Eve earlier this season. Shai Gilgeous Alexander came off the bench to lead the Cats with 21 points.
As of 11 am Kentucky is a 5 point favorite.
Keys to victory:
1. Contain Yante Maten. He is the SEC player of the year for a reason. The dude is a major problem. He is averaging nearly 20 points a game and shooting 47% from the field. The Dawgs struggle to score at just under 67 points per game. So ensuring Maten doesn’t score over his average will be crucial. Kentucky did a great job at Rupp in December holding Maten to 17 points on 5 of 15 shooting. Let’s replicate that effort.
2. Rebounding. This is always one of my keys to the game but when you eliminate Jarred Vanderbilt it becomes all that more important. Bottom line is Kentucky has to find 9 rebounds somewhere else. SKJ? Wenyen? Richards? Who’s it going to be? UK loses today if that question isn’t answered on the court.
3. Play under control. This is the first post season action for nearly every Wildcat. It likely won’t be an enormous crowd but the pressure will mount as the game progresses. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Qaude Green will have to play under control and limit turnovers. Kentucky may need a big shot or two from Kevin Knox to avoid any extended scoring droughts. Then execution in the last 4 minutes. It’s March… there is no more time to fix mistakes.
KENTUCKY – 75
GEORGIA – 69
Photo Credit: ESPN