Kentucky finally had somewhat of an impressive win this week when they traveled to Oxford, MS to take on Ole Miss. Going in, it was well known that the Cats couldn't afford a loss and they played like they knew it as well. With a 22 point lead in the second half, Kentucky allowed the Rebels to cut it to six with 3:00 to go in the game, but Kentucky fought and showed a will to win in crunch time, something they haven't done all season long. Now, they have a chance at redemption Saturday when LSU comes to Rupp Arena.
In the first match-up with LSU back in January, Kentucky played it's worst game of the season. They were outworked, out hustled and were pretty much schooled in every single aspect of the game from start to finish. The Cats done nothing in that game to give Kentucky fans any hope for the rest of the season.
The man in the picture (Johnny O'Bryant III) above sure enjoyed the first match-up going for 29pts on 12-20 shooting and completely abused UK's post players in the process. After the game, O'Bryant said "I really tried to attack them, I knew that they were young guys and I had an advantage in experience and body-wise. I was going at them all night." I hope those words echoed in the minds of these guys ever since that game, because if that doesn't get them motivated for a rematch, then nothing will.
Here's a look at the box score from that game just to give you an idea of how ugly things got.
(click to enlarge)
Everything that happened in the last meeting CANNOT happen in this one if Kentucky wants to get a win. Julius Randle has got to show up, scoring 6 points for the game is what got Kentucky beat last time. There is NO ONE on this LSU team who can contain Randle and he needs to make show them.
Another thing that cannot happen is a no-show by Willie Cauley-Stein. The Cats need Willie to guard the rim because their ability to stop dribble penetration is simply abysmal at best. Time and time again, we see smaller quicker point guards get to the rim with easy lay-ups or lobs for easy dunks when Willie isn't playing his best. On the flip side, when he is playing to his ability, NO ONE can get to the rim and if they do, they more than likely see their shot or lob attempt rejected.
The Cats must set the tone early in this game. They cannot give this LSU team any momentum by falling behind early which they have been known to do on more the one occasion this season. They've got to start solid and they have to finish strong, none of this letting up stuff just because you have somewhat of a lead, that will get ya beat.
If the Cats bring anywhere near the effort they had against Ole Miss, they should have similar results. Anything less and things get interesting at a time when Kentucky can least afford it.