6 keys to victory: Kentucky vs Wofford
Kentucky will face the Wofford Terriers with a Sweet 16 birth on the line this afternoon. The Cats will almost certainly be without PJ Washington who is still nursing a sprain in his foot. If Kentucky can advance it will give PJ one more week to rest and heal his foot. The problem is that Kentucky has to get past one of the best mid-major teams in the country first. If Kentucky is going to move on, these are their keys to victory.
- Dominate the glass- Kentucky will have a size and athleticism advantage at almost every position. They have to turn that into domination on the back boards. The Cats are one of the best rebounding teams in the nation and if they go in focused on going to the glass it will be a big step towards a win.
- Attack the paint- Wofford will shoot a bunch of 3’s and Kentucky can not get sucked into a shooting match with them. Ashton Hagans, Keldon Johnson and Tyler Herro need to drive the ball early and often against the Terriers. Hagans has not had a big scoring game in a while but this seems to be a matchup that could favor him. If he will come into the game determined to drive the ball it should be very good for the Cats.
- Feed Reid- PJ may be out, but Kentucky will still have the most talented post scorer on the floor today. Reid Travis was the main scoring option for multiple seasons at Stanford and he is prepared to step back into that role today. Look for Kentucky to try to establish him inside early today. Wofford does not have anyone that can guard Reid one on one, so they may look to double him when possible. Keeping Reid out of foul trouble will be a big key today, because the Cats need him on the floor as much as possible.
- Go small and get out and run- Keldon Johnson slid over to play the 4 against Abilene Christian and he looked very good doing it. This type of matchup seems tailor made for the Cats “small ball” lineup. Stick Reid Travis at the 5, Keldon at the 4 and then play three guards. The backcourt is long enough and big enough to be able to switch off and defend multiple players against Wofford. This lineup can be lethal in the open court on fast break opportunities. Look for the Cats to push the tempo off of defensive rebounds whenever they get a chance.
- Come out with high energy and intensity- Wofford is looking to pick up their biggest win in school history today. You can be sure that they will be jacked up to face the Wildcats. The key is for Kentucky to come out with that same fire. Without PJ Washington, this teams margin for error is much smaller. Every single player needs to come out ready to go all out from the tip-off to the final buzzer. If they do that, they will have a great chance to advance.
- Guard the 3-point line- Fletcher Magee has made more 3’s in his career than anyone else in NCAA history. As a team Wofford has made the 2nd most 3’s of any team this season. The only team ahead of them is Auburn, who the Cats beat twice this year. Limiting their open looks and challenging as many shots as possible will be huge today. They will make several 3’s no matter what Kentucky does but the Cats have got to make them work hard for them.
It should be a very good atmosphere at the arena today. There are a good number of Kentucky fans that have made the trip to Jacksonville but there are a lot of Wofford fans as well. I expect it to be a close game that could go either way but in the end I like the Cats chances to get the win. I feel they have to much size and athleticism for the Terriers but it will not be easy. At this point all that matters is survive and advance.