The Kentucky Wildcats will be riding a 25-0 record into Knoxville Tuesday night as they look to knock off a struggling Tennessee squad which has lost three of its last four games.
There are three things the Volunteers need to do if they hope to have a chance to knock off the No. 1 team in the country.
1. Force turnovers. This Tennessee team is truly at its best when they can force turnovers and get out and run the floor in transition. Tennessee is averaging 8 steals per contest, which is good enough for No. 30 in the country. Getting in transition and capitalizing on these turnovers is going to be paramount if the Volunteers hope to have a serious chance at the upset.
2. Let it fly from deep. Kentucky’s entire starting lineup is enormous. The Wildcats have six players on their roster who are listed at 6’9″ or taller. Tennessee, on the other hand, has only three players listed at 6’9″ or taller. In other words, Tennessee is giving up massive amounts of size in the post area. The way Tennessee can make up for that is to keep this game on the perimeter. Anything the Vols bring inside is going to be tough sledding. So, it’s important that the Volunteer guards can create some penetration and put passes back outside to open shooters.
3. No alley oops. This point may seem silly on the surface, but hear it out. Alley oops are worth two points just like every other basket not named a three pointer, but they are worth so much more than that mentally. This Kentucky team can smell blood in the water and if you allow them to throw alley oops to one another it brings them to another level mentally. Once a team allows an alley oop, it lets the other team know that they can have anything they want near the basket. Kentucky uses alley oops as catalysts to go on game breaking runs and demoralize their opponents. Tennessee is going to have to make Kentucky scratch and claw for every point they earn inside. If Tennessee can keep these alley oops out of Kentucky’s arsenal, it will prevent the wildcats from gaining the mental edge.
All statistics courtesy of ESPN.com
Edited by Cody McClure