Tyler Ulis is the leader of this team, and one of the best point guards in the league. If he plays well this Kentucky team typically follows. Ulis has been asked to score more for this team, and he has responded with a 14.2 average. He's also averaging 3.2 rpg, 5.5 apg and 1.4 spg. Jamal Murray leads the team in scoring at 17.1 ppg. He's also the best 3-point shooter on the team at 38%. In order for Alabama to upset Kentucky, they must limit the effectiveness of Ulis and Murray. Isaiah Briscoe is the other double digit scorer for this team at 10.5 ppg. He's an athletic guy who likes to get to the rim, primarily because he has really struggled to shoot the ball this season (19% from the 3-pt line, a staggering 35% from the free throw line).
I think the major key to this game will be which team gets the most production from their big guys. This Kentucky team has not been as imposing up front as they have been in recent seasons. For a team like Alabama that has struggled to rebound the ball, that offers hope. In the loss at LSU, UK's trio of big men, Alex Poythress, Marcus Lee and Skal Labissiere combined for a total of 7 pts, 8 rebs and 0 blks. LSU has arguably more talent up front than Alabama does, but those numbers reflect the inconsistencies that have troubled the UK big men all year. Alabama has had their own share of problems up front, which was in clear view on Thursday when Saiz for Ole Miss bullied our guys inside, racking up 16 rebounds and 21 points. Jimmie must avoid foul trouble and be a defensive presence, Mike must play with the passion he showed on Thursday (his best game of the season by far), Donta must produce in limited minutes, and Riley and Shannon must also provide help on the boards at the 4 (or 3, depending on the line-up). The paint is where this game will be won or lost.