Monday, February 02, 2009

Kentucky vs Mississippi State......A Preview

Lwcat
WT Administrator

Kentucky vs Mississippi State 2/3/09
Tuesday at 7PM
Raycom, (ESPN Full Court)

Mississippi State

Location-Starkville, Miss.
Enrollment-17,039
Arena-10,735

Coach-Rick Stansbury
Career Record-231-125 (64.9%) in 10 seasons ( All at Miss. St.)

2007-08 Record-23-11
2007-08 SEC Record-12-4 (1st-West)
2007-08 Postseason Record-1-1 (Lost in NCAA)

2008-09 Record To Date-14-7
2008-09 SEC Record To Date-4-2

Miss. St. 77 Centenary 55
Miss. St. 78 Louisiana-Monroe 49
Miss. St. 102 North Alabama 61
Miss. St. 84 Fairleigh Dickinson 58
Miss. St. 76 St. Bonaventure 71
Washington St. 63 Miss. St. 52
Texas Tech 77 Miss. St. 73
Miss. St. 76 Alabama St. 67
Charlotte 70 Miss. St. 64
Miss St. 79 South Alabama 60
Cincinnati 75 Miss. St. 63
Miss. St. 74 Nicholls St. 68
San Diego 64 Miss. St. 61 (OT)
Miss. St. 82 Houston 65
Miss. St. 95 Western Ky. 67
Miss. St. 70 Arkansas 56
Miss. St. 83 Alabama 74
Miss. St. 73 Vanderbilt 66
LSU 81 Miss. St. 57
Miss. St. 67 Georgia 61
Ole Miss 67 Miss. St. 63

Miss. St. STATS

Scoring-73.8
FG%-45.3%
3 Point FG%-36.8%
3 Point FG made per game-7.6
FT%-70.1%
Rebounds-37.8
Assists-13.0
TO’s- 14.9
Steals-7.4
Blocks-7.9

UK STATS

Scoring-78.5
FG%-49.7%
3 Point FG%-34.8%
3 Point FG made per game-5.8
FT%-79.2%
Rebounds-38.9
Assists-17.0
Steals-6.5
Blocks-7.4

Probable Starting Lineup

Ravern Johnson-G/F-6’7” Soph……..PPG-12.8
Jarvis Varnado-F/C-6’9” Jr………….PPG-12.7
Barry Stewart-G-6’2” Jr……………..PPG-10.5
Dee Bost-G-6’2” Fr………………….PPG-9.8
Phil Turner-G-6’3” Soph…………….PPG-7.6

Other Key Players

Kodi Augustus-F-6’8” Soph…………PPG-6.5
Romero Osby-F-6’8” Fr……………..PPG-5.8
Riley Benock-G-6’4” Soph………….PPG-2.6
Twany Beckham-G-6’5” Fr…………PPG-2.2

Coach Stansbury had high hopes that this year’s Bulldog team would be a very experienced team, but unfortunately that didn’t happen…….leading scorer Charles Rhodes ran out of eligibility…Jamont Gordon opted to leave early for the NBA, only to not be drafted……..and PG Ben Hansbrough transferred to Notre Dame. As a result, Miss. St. is a young inexperienced team, but, importantly, they do return the SEC’s top shot blocker in Jarvis Varnado and junior guard Barry Stewart. Varnado is an incredible shot blocker….with an astounding 98 blocks thus far this season for 5 blocks per game…. Also, he is a great rebounder averaging nearly 10 boards per game while scoring 12.7 PPG. Despite the key player losses, Coach Stansbury has done a solid job with this young Bulldog team as they currently are 4-2 in the SEC. Miss. St. is led in scoring by Ravern Johnson who is shooting a solid 47.3% from the field and a blistering 53-110 from the 3 point line..for 48.2%. Starters Turner and Stewart are also shooting a good percentage from the 3 point line. Importantly, Miss. St. has 4 starters averaging double figures and several subs have been helpful offensively as well. The Bulldogs arrive at Rupp arena coming off of a tough home loss to Ole Miss 67-63. Despite, their 7 losses, the Bulldogs have only been beaten badly in one game and that was a 24 point loss to LSU. Look for Stansbury to have this young Bulldog team ready to play a tough game against the Cats on Tuesday.

UK, which got off to a great start in the SEC winning their first 5 games, has now lost 2 straight SEC games including a very disappointing loss to South Carolina at Rupp arena.

Unfortunately, the same negative issues that have plagued UK through most of this season keep occurring like “Groundhog Day”. First and foremost is the continuing turnover problem…. as the Cats are averaging 18 TO’s per game with 20 plus TO’s in far too many games….. such as the 21 TO’s in the recent loss to the Gamecocks. In short, UK has shown little or no improvement in ball handling and decision making from November and the Cats are now 2/3’s through the season. It is exceedingly difficult to give away 20 plus scoring opportunities and beat many decent teams. Parameter defense has also continued to be a problem as opposing teams continue to get far too many good looks at the basket. Recently, offensive rebounding by UK has become a nightmare with Ole Miss and South Carolina dominating the offensive boards with too many easy put backs and 3-4 shots at the basket. UK has still not found decent parameter scoring from anyone but Jodie Meeks. When you look at the 3 point shooting of Liggins-8-42 for 19%....Porter-12-43 for 27.9%......Miller-7-33 for 21.2% and Harris-3-17 for 17.6%......you quickly see a team with horrible 3 point shooting and a major offensive problem. Having only one UK player, Meeks, who is a threat from the parameter allows teams to focus their defense on Meeks and challenging other UK players to shoot from the outside…..so far, it’s been a great strategy. On the interior, only Patterson has been consistently effective with Stevenson occasionally helping offensively. Unfortunately, UK is essentially a two man team offensively and that is hurting the Cats. UK fans have been waiting all year for Miller, who is improving, or someone to provide some additional consistent scoring, but, so far, it hasn’t happened.

This game against Miss St. is extremely critical as UK simply can’t stand to lose a 2nd straight SEC game at home. The rest of the SEC schedule will be a definite challenge. The time is getting late for this UK team to start solving some of these continuing problems that are costing them games. If these negative issues continue, the Cats will be facing a number of additional SEC losses and possibly an NIT bid. The time is now for this UK team to play tough defense…….to play smart and eliminate all the silly TO’s and poor shot selection……..to execute on offense and have the right players taking the right shots…..….to get control of the offensive boards…..and hopefully have a player or two start contributing some solid offense aside from Meeks and Patterson. Frankly, I will be surprised and very disappointed if UK doesn’t come out in the Miss St game with a tough attitude and make significant strides in solving these negative issues. If not now…when! This is what Gillispie gets paid for…..get this UK team playing some solid basketball and get back to winning! GO CATS!

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