NCAA Basketball

College Basketball Preview: Kentucky vs. Alabama

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On Friday the Wildcats found a way to finally put away a stingy Ole Miss team without Terrence Jones’ best performance. It was Brandon Knight late who put Chris Warren and the Rebels to rest. In the first game of the day, Alabama came back from 14 down late to beat Georgia in overtime in what was dubbed an NCAA Tournament play-in game.

Now the University of Kentucky SEC Tournament Revenge tour continues as the Wildcats get a chance to revenge their road loss in Tuscaloosa.

This is not a very deep Alabama team. Head coach Anthony Grant will only go about six or at most seven deep. They are led by a pair of forwards in JaMychal Green and Tony Mitchell. Green leads the team in scoring with 16.0 points while Mitchell averages 15.5. Both players are extremely effective around the rim as they are both shooting around 50-percent from the floor. They are also the teams’ most effective rebounders as Green leads the way with 7.5 a game and Mitchell is right behind with 7.2.

Freshman Trevor Relaford has stepped in to run the point for Grant’s squad. In doing so, he is putting up good numbers, but needs to find a way to limit his turnovers. He is third on the team in scoring with 10.4 points per game and leads them in assists with 3.4 per contest.

Overall this is not a very good perimeter shooting team as they are shooting just under 30-percent from deep. But, the Wildcats will have to be aware of senior Charvis Davis, who is the Tide’s lone threat from distance. On the year he has knocked down 57 threes and is shooting 35-percent from deep. Alabama’s next best three-point threats are Mitchell and Relaford, who combine for 37 threes on the year.

Alabama has some skill underneath, but their backcourt is really lacking. Because of that lack of experience and skill in their guards, look for Kentucky to extend their pressure in both the half court and full court, in an attempt to force the Tide into turnovers. This is an Alabama team that is averaging 14.3 turnovers a game.

Alabama is going to try to slow the game down against the ‘Cats. Look for them to run seconds off of the shot clock and then get the ball underneath to Green or Mitchell. With the ball in their hands they will look to finish at the rim or find Davis at the wing for a three or Relaford cutting. Kentucky also has to be aware of both Green and Mitchell on the offensive glass as this is not a bad rebounding team. They are averaging 40/4 rebounds a game, which ranks sixth in the SEC, right behind Kentucky at 41.0.

Getting the ball to their bigs underneath will also allow them the opportunity to get Josh Harrellson or Terrence Jones in foul trouble. In the last couple of games we have seen how Kentucky’s lack of depth allows foul trouble to wreak havoc. The Tide will try to do the same and they have the bigs to do it.

I look for Kentucky to have a better all-around game on Saturday and continue their revenge tour with a win over the Elephants of Bama.

Kentucky 71, Alabama 63