How are the Wildcats expected to guard Kevin Garnett underneath? Whose going to body up with the Diesel? With having to face-guard Ray Allen on the wing, who is going to slide to help to keep Rajon Rondo from getting into the lane and creating? Seriously, the Celtics were a win away from claiming the NBA Championship a year ago.
The “Terriers” of Boston University come to Rupp Arena on Tuesday night with a 4-3 record. Their biggest test so far was on November 17 when they faced Villanova at the Pavilion and lost 82-66.
This team is similar to Kentucky in one way, they have a lot of new faces. They graduated nine seniors a year ago and in their opener at Northeastern, a 66-64 loss, they featured 13 players, 11 of which had never played a game for Boston before. They feature seven freshmen and four transfers.
Needless to say, when you start a season with so many uncertainties a head coach is forced to juggle the lineup until he finds something that works. It appears that head coach Pat Chambers found that lineup and rotation four games ago. Since then the Terriers are 3-1 with wins over Nevada and Cornell and it seems that they have really began to build some chemistry.
Chambers is a former assistant coach under Jay Wright at Villanova, so you know this team is going to play defense. They are going to play with a lot of energy, will be up-tempo and will play tenacious 40-minute defense. Expect them to mix it up defensively with some zone and man-to-man.
Usually, they will use their high-energy defense to get baskets in transition. Expect them to still push the ball on occasion, but they will pick their spots more against UK than they did against Cornell or Nevada. They, like most teams, are concerned about Kentucky getting in transition. When opportunities aren’t there, expect them to run their offense and then focus on getting back on defense to prevent the Wildcats from scoring easy buckets.
Getting back on defense has been something that the Terriers have excelled at all season long, so they must continue that to have a chance against Kentucky. On the season they are holding opponents to under 40-percent from the field.
Just like Villanova, the Terriers are not as structured on offense. They let their guards go and every player has freedom to be creative.
This is a very balanced offense as they have four guys this season who have already put up 20+ point games. They are led by senior wingman John Holland (6-5, 205), who is averaging 17.9 points and has scored in double figures in six of seven games. Holland has averaged double figures in each of his four years at Boston and is coming off of season where he led the Terriers with 19.2 points.
He does a little bit of everything for Boston and is an effective rebounder from the wing. He is averaging 5.0 rebounds, 1.1 assists, 1.7 steals, while knocking down 17 three-pointers and shooting 35-percent from deep.
Junior guard Darryl Partin (6-6, 190), a transfer from LaSalle, is the only other Terrier averaging double figures, with 10.3 points-per-game. In their last win over Cornell, Partin finished with 32 points on 10-of-14 shooting from the field and was 5-of-6 from deep. The rest of the Terriers shot 8-of-35 from the field, good for just 23-percent.
Their remainder of their scoring is extremely balanced as they have five more players averaging over five points. However, their overall offensive numbers are not all that impressive. They are averaging just 63.7 points-per-game, which ranks 268th in the country, and are shooting 39-percent from the floor, which ranks 300th. Their 9.7 assists-per-game rank 326th.
For this team to be successful they have to rely on their defense because they just have not clicked yet on the offensive side. Against Kentucky that becomes even more important.
Terrence Jones, Brandon Knight, Darius Miller and company should be too athletic for the Terriers. But, this is still a good defensive squad. When they get into the lane, they have to make good decisions, something that really lacked in their loss to UConn. I am anxious to see Knight and the rest of UK’s guards get into the lane and then find open shooters on the wing or open guys on the block.
Kentucky 81, Boston 63