Look at this face... Learn to live with it, because you're going to be seeing a whole lot of it come tomorrow night as the Cats travel to Oxford to take on the Rebels of Ole Miss. Now, I'll be the first to admit, I like Marshall Henderson and all his shenanigans, I happen to think it adds some excitement to the game and conference. But, tomorrow night it could get a little old seeing this guy celebrate in his own unique way if the Cats don't get things sured up on the defensive end of things.
Saturday against Florida, the Cats had the game won and then the last 11:00 minutes happened. No defense, mental errors, break downs defensively and offensively all things that led to Florida's 10 point win. Yes, it's true, all the things we watched go wrong against The Gators is in-fact "fixable" , but the disturbing part is these are some of the same problems that has plagued this team since the beginning of the season and has shown no sign of improving whatsoever.
While the Cats have a host of problems, they did prove one thing against Florida Saturday night. They proved that they could hold their own against what is more than likely the best team in the country and give themselves a chance to win at the end of the game despite the mistakes that were made. That has got to be the most annoying part about this team is the simple fact that if they would just play to their potential and EVERYONE be on the same page at the same time, it would be amazing at what this team could accomplish. However, until that happens we will have to accept this team for what it is and hope for the best.
Now comes Marshall Henderson and Ole Miss only this time it won't be in the safety of Rupp Arena, it will be in Oxford where the Rebels are undefeated this season during conference play going 5-0 which include wins of Missouri and LSU. Ole Miss has lots of weapons that are mostly guards, but guards that can flat fill it up from inside and out with several who shoot in the high 30's to high 40's when it comes to three point percentage, so to say the Cats will have to defend the three is an understatement.
Oxford will be a hostile environment for the Cats and you can fully expect another sellout and T-shirt game as we have seen in just about every road game Kentucky has played so far this season. If there ever was a must win game for Kentucky, this is one of them as it also is for Ole Miss. The Rebels are trying to build a post season resume and Kentucky is trying to avoid a two game losing streak which is what Ole Miss is on right now after losing to Alabama and dropping a heartbreaker to Georgia on the road. So to say that both teams have something to prove is beyond obvious.
The Cats can't have the same mistakes that plagued them against Florida, especially on the road and expect to walk away with a win. They must take care of the ball, rebound at an extremely high rate, make the open shot and avoid late game mistakes like they had this past Saturday. I really think Kentucky needs this win worse than Ole Miss just for the simple fact that if they do indeed lose this game I could see the wheels coming off so to speak and things going from bad to down right ugly in hurry.
For Kentucky to win, Willie Cauley-Stein has got to get himself involved especially on the defensive end. Without him, there is absolutely NO ONE who can protect the rim. Dakari Johnson will be able to do that in time, but right now he isn't ready. Willie is one of the best post players in the country (defensively) when he is playing to his potential and that is something that was missing this past Saturday. Like I've said before, this teams success depends on Willie.