Strangely enough there isn’t much talk about the Cats playing in Knoxville today at lunch time. Maybe it’s the sweet buzz of revenge that is silencing the Big Blue Nation, but we must move on and focus on the next stepping stone at hand; faded-orange Tennessee and dem lo, down, dirty, snitches. (best part is the garbage truck driver convention comment)
Many of you remember our last trip to Knoxville like the profile head shot of the person next to you in your cubicle. Rob wrote on it earlier but we have to mention one of the greatest performances in Kentucky history, Jodie Meeks and his 54 point smack down on the Fanta orange thugs.
The Cats need to turn around quickly from the battle last night and piece together the energy necessary to win on the road in a hostile environment. And, since this game is touted as a rivalry (not sure why, UK leads all-time series 142-65), UT will be amped up and ready to roll as if it were Kansas all over again. Can UT match the tenacity they brought that night against the fog? Are Kansas and Kentucky comparable? Not really.
#17 UT is reeling, sitting at 8-5 in conference play and 20-7 overall, and got punched in the gut by Florida on Tuesday night 75-62. They still have managed to salvage their season without star Tyler Smith whom was kicked off the team for packing heat and playing with narcotics, and are making a good run at a decent seed in the NCAA tourney.
Wayne Chism isn’t likely to be 100% when he takes the floor this afternoon but he is still the team leader in rebounding (6.9 pg) and tied with Kentucky native Scotty Hopson for scoring, averaging 12.9 points per contest. Look for him to play the entire 40 if the fighting Pearl’s want any shot at knocking off the more dominant Cats.
Still, the Cats need a solid performance from Patrick Patterson again to take the heat off of Demarcus Cousins. Most of this game will be played in the paint due to UT’s lack of depth in the middle. Look for that to free things up on the wings for Dodson, Miller, and Liggins to make some outside shots. Yes, this has pretty much been our game plan from day one because we are the biggest team in the country which makes since, but easier said than done. Wall and Bledsoe will then be able to penetrate when they want and hopefully both protect the rock.
I don’t think this team has to worry about conditioning and the tight turnaround time between games, but they will need to keep the defensive intensity up all game in order to keep Tennessee reeling, as they have been accustomed to lately.