5 Things to Know Before UK vs Texas A&M

The Cats are coming off a tough road loss at Tennessee and facing a Texas A&M team that is desperate for a win.  Here is a quick look at five things you need to know before tonight’s game.

  1. Jarred Vanderbilt is practicing!!!– On his radio call in show last night Coach Cal said that “Jarred changed the practice today. He was so physical. … It will be nice to get him back.”  That was a huge piece of news and could be a game changer in the near future.  It seems highly unlikely that he would see any action tonight against the Aggies but his debut appears to be getting very close.  Ironically it is possible that his first game could come this Saturday at Vanderbilt but that is pure speculation.  As long as he can start playing games within the next couple weeks he should have a big impact on the season.  He would take a lot of pressure off of both PJ Washington and Kevin Knox while also providing some much needed depth for Calipari.  He is a 6’9 playmaking point forward that is the teams best shot blocker according to Cal.  He will be way behind and will certainly be rusty so fans should not expect to see him at his best for at least a month or longer.  Be patient, give him time and just enjoy him being healthy whenever he returns.  Make no mistake he would be a huge addition for this team and their national title hopes.
  2. Texas A&M is 0-3 in SEC play– After starting the season off great and climbing all the way up to 5th in the AP poll the wheels have come off for the Aggies.  A combination of injuries and player suspensions has led to a brutal start to their SEC schedule.  Many pundits penciled them in as the most likely team to win the SEC regular season title before conference play began.  With their 0-3 start it will be very tough for them to win the SEC and an 0-4 start would make it virtually impossible.  That makes this game at Kentucky a huge one for the Aggies.  They have all of their players back now and should once again be one of the best teams in the nation.  A win in Rupp Arena would send a big message that they are back to full strength and are a force to be reckoned with.  They are desperate for a win and will come ready for a war tonight.
  3. Kentucky needs this win on their resume– The Cats have not gotten much national credit for their wins this season and the Aggies are a great opportunity to pick up a quality win.  Despite their slow SEC start the media still views Texas A&M as an elite team which gives the Cats a chance to prove themselves.  On top of that it is a chance for this team to show fans that there is no reason to panic about the season.
  4. Will the real Kevin Knox please stand up, please stand up– In the last couple weeks it has been no secret that Knox has struggled with his game.  Cal is urging him to be more aggressive and to use his size and length to his advantage.  Knox is the most elite player on this team and the Cats need him at his best if they hope to make a long run in March.  Part of the struggle for him is that he is a young kid under a lot of pressure and he is over thinking things.  The focus for him needs to be less about thinking and more about playing.  It will click for him eventually, the question is when.
  5. How will PJ Washington handle the Aggies size?– In the last two games PJ seems to have turned the corner and is playing his best basketball of the season.  He will face a stiff task tonight against the Aggies huge front court.  They have height, length, athleticism and bulk to throw at him which will make it a challenge for him.  Obviously he is not the only big man on the Cats roster but he is their best interior scorer.  Keeping him out of foul trouble and on the floor will be a huge key to the game tonight.

Rupp should be rocking tonight as fans try to push the Cats back into the winning column after a loss in Knoxville.  Expect a very good game from start to finish with Kentucky getting a win by the skin of their teeth.

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