Five Keys to Victory for the Cat over the Cards
Tonight Kentucky will play their first true road game of the season and it comes against Louisville. It will almost certainly be the toughest environment that this team will play in all season long. The Cardinals enter the game as the 10th ranked team in the nation and boast a 10-1 record. As has become the norm for Louisville teams coached by Rick Pitino this team plays aggressive defense as well as any team in the nation. With that said this version of the Cards appears to struggle to score the ball more than any of Pitino’s more recent teams. This game will be an interesting experiment to see the high powered offense of Kentucky take on the high powered defense of the Cards. If the Cats hope to leave the YUM! Center with a win here are five keys to victory.
- DON’T TURN THE BALL OVER– Much of the Cards offense comes from points off of turnovers. They want to create turnovers in both the full court and the half court which lead to fast break baskets for them. It seems unlikely that Pitino will press the Cats full court very often because of the speed of De’Aaron Fox combined with the ability of Isaiah Briscoe to break the press. It is in the half court that turnovers could become an issue for Kentucky. If the Cats turn it over 10 times or less it would almost guarantee a Wildcat win.
- MAKE THEM SHOOT THE BALL– The Cards have struggled mightily from behind the 3 point line this season and shoot just 33% from deep. On top of that they have shot a paltry 43% from the floor overall. If the Cats can force them to take contested jumpers rather than allowing them to drive to the basket it could be a long night for the Cards.
- DON’T SHY AWAY FROM CONTACT– It is no secret that Louisville likes to play a rough, physical defense that at times intimidates opponents who would rather avoid contact. This can especially be true of freshmen that have never faced that kind of defense before. If the Cats try to flip shots, fall away, and fade away rather than going right at their defenders it will play into the Cards hands. On the other hand and they will look to be the aggressor and seek out contact they can take that advantage away from Louisville. The key players in this regard will be Fox, Monk, Bam, and Briscoe. Get fouled and get fouled often.
- WIN THE BATTLE ON THE BOARDS– This game will likely feature more missed shots overall than any other game this season. That means there will be loads of rebounds to be had which makes them all the more important if you can grab the most. The Cats beat the Heels on the boards which was a huge feat in their win Saturday. A repeat performance of that tonight will go a long way towards another Wildcat win.
- KEEP BAM ON THE FLOOR– The Cards have some length to defend Bam with but they don’t have the bulk to match up with him. He should be a huge problem for Pitino if he can stay on the floor. That if is a big one because foul trouble seems to follow the big man around this season. Louisville will look to go at him in hopes of sending him to the bench with fouls. Bam has to find away to defend effectively without being whistled for fouls which is not easy when he seems to get a very tight whistle for whatever reason. If Bam can play 30+ minutes in the game it will be very big for Kentucky.
Of course Malik Monk could always go crazy again and blow all these keys out of the water. Rest assured that Louisville will do all they can to make Monk have a much tougher night than he did on Saturday. This will be an all out battle that will really help prepare the Cats for the SEC season whether they win or lose. It seems that many things point in favor of the Cats tonight but the old saying of “even a blind squirrel finds a nut” has to come true for Pitino at some point. Doesn’t it???