The Wildcats dug themselves a hole they couldn’t get out of in a disappointing defeat on the road in Alabama to open SEC play. Thankfully the games come thick and fast at this time of year and Kentucky gets to open its home SEC schedule next time out as John Calipari’s men face Texas A&M.
Here are the three keys:
By Steve Wright
Better shot selection
Kentucky beats Alabama on Saturday if the shot selection is better, especially in the second half.
The Wildcats were up by two points at the break, 40-38, and looked to be in a comfortable position to drive forward and win the game. That lead immediately disappeared at the start of the second half, with Kentucky finding itself down by double-digits with less than seven minutes to play. The fact that Tyler Herro had a three to win the game as time expired was miraculous given the deficit the Wildcats once faced, but the team played itself into a hole with wild shooting and making the wrong decisions at the end of play after play.
Better offensive execution alone should be enough to beat a Texas A&M side that looks like it might be one of the worst teams in the league this season.
Rebound the ball
Of all the ways that Kentucky could have lost to Alabama on Saturday getting outrebounded would not have been at the top of many lists. That is exactly what happened, however, with the Wildcats losing the overall rebounding battle by eight boards and finding themselves outrebounded overall on the offensive end.
Kentucky came into the contest rebounding 41-percent of its misses, creating so many second chance opportunities with work rate around the basket. For whatever reason that work rate and ability to come down with the ball disappeared in the second half against the Crimson Tide, even though the gimmes that Kentucky was missing were the sort of shots that offensive rebounders usually thrive on.
The Aggies allowed Arkansas to grab 17 rebounds in their matchup this weekend, a stat that should be music to the ears of P.J. Washington and Reid Travis.
Turn the Aggies over
A&M is not a team that is going to be able to shoot with Kentucky. The Aggies shoot a woeful 28-percent from the three-point line, with none of their heavy volume shooters hitting the bottom of the net with any regularity.
This inability to hit the three, barring one of those weird games where a player doesn’t miss, means that if the Wildcats can turn the Aggies over, then they simply will not have the scoring volume to be able to stay in the game against Kentucky’s attack.
Texas A&M averages 14 turnovers per game, with T.J. Starks being the most turnover prone player with 4.1 turnovers per game. Heavy pressure on the A&M ball handlers should be part of the game plan for this one.