Monday, February 22, 2016

Game Preview - at Kentucky

Alabama's 5-game winning streak was snapped on Saturday by Mississippi State. To avoid a 2-game losing streak, our guys will have to earn it the hard way on the road at Rupp Arena vs the Wildcats. Game time is 6 PM on Tuesday. ESPN will televise the game as part of its "Super Tuesday" coverage. Kentucky is also seeking to bounce back after a controversial loss on the road to Texas A&M. Despite the loss, Kentucky still sits at the top of the league standings with a 10-4 record, but their schedule is brutal in these final two weeks of the season. Home games with Bama and LSU along with road trips to Florida and Vandy is as tough as it gets. If Kentucky is the 1 seed in Nashville in three weeks for the SEC Tournament, they will have earned it.



67.6 PPG 78.8
67.1 OPP 67.5
.428 FG% .474
.401 OPP .393
50.1 EFG% 53.1
45.8 OPP 44.1
.333 3PT% .357
.322 OPP .330
.651 FT% .677
.668 OPP .713
40.5 FTRATE 37.5
39.6 OPP 41.9
35.6 RPG 39.0
37.7 OPP 33.5
28.8 OREB% 38.0
33.3 OPP 31.6
13.9 TOPG 11.8
12.5 OPP 12.9
20.6 TO% 17.0
18.5 OPP 18.6

Kentucky is dealing with some injuries. Emerging forward Derek Willis (Jr. 6'9, 220 lbs), whose insertion into the starting line-up provided a spark to this UK team, sprained his ankle in the A&M game, and is doubtful for this game. The status of Alex Poythress (Sr. 6'8, 230 lbs), who logged a career high of 25 points against Alabama in the first meeting this season, is also unknown for this game. Poythress has missed the last five games due to injuries, but is expected back this week.

Unfortunately for Alabama, the dynamic duo of Tyler Ulis (5'9, 160 lbs) and Jamal Murray (6'4, 207 lbs) are healthy and will be available. Murray is a projected top 10 draft pick who has become a scoring machine at 19.3 ppg along with 4.8 rpg, 2.1 apg and 1.1 spg. Ulis (16.7 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 6.6 apg and 1.4 spg) is one of the top point guards in the country and the unquestioned leader for this team. With LSU and Ben Simmons' struggles, he may also now be the leader for the SEC Player of the Year award. Keep an eye on Isaac Humphries (Fr. 7'0, 260 lbs). He played a heck of a game at A&M (6 pts, 12 rebs, 2 blks), but was whistled for a controversial technical foul late in that game that led to the A&M win in overtime. If he's moved past that unfortunate moment, he could be an x-factor for the Cats against an inconsistent Bama front line.

Alabama did not respond well when placed in the role of favorite this past Saturday. At times they looked tight, as if the realization of what they had accomplished in winning 6 of their last 7 games and placing themselves on the NCAA Tournament bubble had finally hit them. No worries though, they will be in the familiar role of underdog once again on Tuesday night. That may be to their favor. Not many are giving Alabama a chance in this game, but they may be catching this Kentucky team at just the right time. This will be Kentucky's third game in six days, and when you factor in the injuries this UK team is dealing with, Alabama may be able to catch them flat-footed. It will take a tremendous effort from Alabama to walk out of Rupp with a win, but many didn't think they could walk out of Gainesville or Baton Rouge with wins either.

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