The Kentucky Wildcats are coming off maybe their best complete game all season against Auburn on Saturday night. Road games are always very tough for a young team, but Kentucky handled Auburn with ease throughout most of the second half. Kyle Wiltjer and Ryan Harrow were huge on the offensive end while Nerlens Noel took care of business on the defensive end.
Kentucky is on the road again tonight as they face a guard heavy Alabama team led by Trevor Lacey and Trevor Releford. Those two combine for 29 points a game, but can explode at anytime of the game. Calipari calls this game “A guards game”, and said he feels good about his guards in Archie Goodwin and Ryan Harrow. Another big test for this team tonight will be it’ll most likely be a sellout, and their first one of the season. Larry Vaught tweeted out earlier that “Alabama had more fans at a gymnastics meet than at their last home basketball game”, I expect that won’t be the case tonight as Kentucky is everybody’s super bowl.
Two years ago a Brandon Knight led Kentucky team went down to Alabama, and had a horrible 1st half and trailed by almost 20 points before making a comeback to actually have the ball at the end with a chance to win. That Alabama team had Tony Mitchell, JaMychal Green, and Justin Knox as one of the biggest frontcourts in the SEC. Kentucky later got revenge on the Crimson Tide in the SEC tournament and that was a start for the final four run.
The key matchup for this game will be Ryan Harrow vs Trevor Releford, and how will Harrow respond to the physical play. Calipari has been wanting toughness from his point guard all year, and against Auburn he finally got it. Calipari even told Harrow at one point of the game “Way to be tough”, and that’s what we will need from him tonight.
If Kentucky can get a huge win on the road at Alabama tonight it would be huge. A road win against a quality league opponent is exactly what Kentucky needs to better their tournament resume.
Kentucky will likely be without Willie Cauley-Stein again tonight as he is rehabbing a knee injury.
Kentucky tips off at 9 on ESPN.