Well, Tuesday night was more than a little ugly. The Wildcats had South Carolina beaten, right up until the point that they melted down. A 14-point lead disappeared over the last 11 minutes or so and Kentucky somehow lost to the Gamecocks 76-68. Thankfully the games come quickly and Kentucky gets to (hopefully) take some frustration out on Florida.
Here are the three keys to this one:
Play with better discipline
Blaming referees is the easy way out when it comes to looking at the foul trouble that Kentucky played itself into on Tuesday night. Yes, the officials were calling the game two different ways on the Gamecocks home court, but as a player you have to adjust to that and play defense in a different way. It’s a hard lesson to learn, but it’s one that the young Wildcats saw the effect of last week.
Kentucky committed 32 fouls in the game. Take out overtime contests, and this was the most fouls Kentucky has given up in a game since 1997. Six of the eight scholarship players had four fouls or more. Three fouled out. At home the whistle won’t be as quick, but if SEC schools learn that Kentucky is ill-disciplined then they will try to take advantage. This will begin with Florida on Saturday.
Stop Chris Chiozza
Before the South Carolina game we identified Chris Silva as the man Kentucky needed to stop. We figured that the Wildcats would have enough bodies to throw at the imposing Silva that he wouldn’t have his normal game and Kentucky would win.
We were both right and wrong.
Silva didn’t have his normal game, but instead, he played much, much better. He scored 27 points as the focal point of the Gamecocks’ offense and Kentucky had no idea how to stop him. On Saturday the Wildcats get another Chris that likes to take over games, Chris Chiozza of Florida.
Chiozza is not the consistent scorer that Silva is, but he is the player that the first-placed (SEC) Gators go to when they need a bucket. The point guard averages 12.3 points per game and he must be contained if Kentucky is to end the week with a win.
More from Jarred Vanderbilt
It took 18 games of the season but we finally got to see freshman forward Jarred Vanderbilt in a Kentucky shirt against South Carolina.
Vanderbilt is expected to immediately become the team’s most versatile player and best shot blocker, and the hope is that he can very quickly get up to speed and integrate with the team. His first appearance on the court went badly, but by the end of the game, it was easy to see why he has received such press without even stepping onto the court.
With so many players – including point guard Quade Green – missing from the lineup, it was hard to see exactly where Vanderbilt will fit in. Against Florida, we can expect to see much more of the potential star as John Calipari fast tracks him into his ideal rotation.