The Kentucky Wildcats face a tough test tonight when they play the Duke Blue Devils at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. The Cats are fresh off a narrow win over Maryland that saw UK nearly blow a 15 point second half lead.
So how will they do against the Dukies? There are three areas of concern for me.
UK’s rebounding was atrocious last Friday night. The Terps pounded the Cats on the glass getting 16 more rebounds than UK, including 28 offensive rebounds. It was just one game but that kind of effort cannot continue. If it does it could derail Kentucky’s chances of reaching their potential.
That said, I’m not sure that it will really hurt them tonight. Duke may not be a great rebounding team either. They were was out-rebounded by Georgia State in their opener. Mason Plumlee grabbed 14 missed shots but nobody else had more than 4. Duke shot 51% but only got 5 offensive rebounds off of 23 missed shots. UK has a chance to consistently limit the Devils to one shot per possession. If they can do that their chances of winning dramatically improve.
2) Perimeter Defense
The Blue Devils are a very good shooting team, making eleven three pointers in their first game. Meanwhile, UK limited Maryland to just three. The job will be much tougher tonight against Duke and Kentucky cannot get lost in the series of picks and screens that are certain to come. One advantage that UK has is size. Duke’s guards are all relatively small and the Cats length could make it tough to shoot over.
3) Point Guard Play
Ryan Harrow is out and that’s bad news for UK. Kentucky will rely on Freshman Archie Goodwin and former walk on Jarrod Polson to handle the ball against Duke’s defensive pressure. I’m not sure either is really ready for that. Goodwin is really good but he’s just now learning to be a point guard and Polson, who played very well in Brooklyn, will be part of Duke’s game plan. Mike Krzyzewski will try to turn up the heat and rattle UK’s inexperienced backcourt. I fear it will work.
I’m not sure UK is really ready for Duke. The Blue Devils are more experienced and very well coached. While UK’s is more talented but they’re also very green. I think UK will look streaky good but in the end too many turnovers and too many Duke three’s will do them in. Duke 75, UK 69