I've taken the liberty of highlighting potential problem areas for the Cats Saturday. They simply CANNOT turn the ball over at the rate (13 turnovers) they did against LSU and expect to win. They have got to a better job of rebounding the ball and not give up multiple offensive rebounds. Free-throws is something that has plagued this team all season long and something they'll have to do a better job at on Saturday. Finally, GUARD THE THREE. Sure 36% from deep isn't a staggering number, but Missouri has a couple of guys who can flat fill it up from deep. The Cats will have to close out on shooters quick with hands up, otherwise things could get ugly in a hurry.
PLAYERS TO WATCH:
Jabari Brown - 20ppg, FG% 50, FT% 77, 3P% 47
Jordan Clarkson - 18ppg, 1.4 spg, FG% 46, FT% 80
Earnest Ross - 14.5 ppg, FG% 43, FT% 79, 3P% 30.5
The Cats will have to contain these three to have a chance in Columbia. If one or more of these guys have their way, then look out.
Missouri is one SEC foe that Kentucky doesn't have a very long history with, mostly due to the fact that the Tigers are newcomers to the conference. But, here is the series history anyway...
Like I said, there's not a very big history between these two schools. The first game between the two took place in 1960 with the Cats winning 81-69. The Cats and Tigers have played a total of five times with Kentucky winning all five meetings. The last meeting was last season in Rupp Arena with Kentucky winning in overtime 90-83.
At the beginning of the season hopes and expectations were high, maybe too high. But I never thought that this particular team would be struggling so late in the season. Sure I thought that early in the season they would have some kinks to work out, but I never dreamed that they would be needing a win at Missouri to save their post season hopes because that's exactly what is happening. Does a loss in Columbia spell NIT? NO. But a loss makes it more difficult than it should be going forward. A loss would mean that Kentucky may possibly have to win out to avoid a very low seed or possibly missing the tournament all together. All you have to do is look at the remaining schedule.
Dates with Florida (twice), Ole Miss (twice) and a return game with LSU in Rupp. That is NOT an easy schedule if you're struggling like this team is. On the up side, Missouri also lost to LSU on the road 77-71, so maybe that's a good sign. At this point, I'll take any good omen we can get.
See you Saturday after what is hopefully a win...