Getting a win at Rupp Arena on Saturday won’t be easy. However, it is absolutely possible. Kentucky’s length and athleticism will present match-up problems for just about every team on their schedule this year, but John Calipari’s bunch is definitely beatable. Here are some reasons why.
1. Make Shots: It’s as simple as that. If you want to beat a team like Kentucky, you have to knock down open looks. I don’t think the Cards need to shoot an ungodly percentage on Saturday in order to win, but they can’t afford to have a cold day from behind the arc. Free throws will be critical as well. The Cards have struggled with free throws at times this season. It won’t be much easier at Rupp.
2. Control The Tempo: Most people just assume that Louisville will need the game to be played in a half-court set in order to get the win. That couldn’t be further from the truth in my opinion. If the game is played at a track-meet type pace, that obviously favors Kentucky. However, if you’ve watched this Louisville team then you realize they are much more successful when playing at a faster pace. The Cards will need to play up-tempo, but in a smart way. They need to press effectively if they’re going to press at all. Teams that have been able to force turnovers have been able to turn those into points against Kentucky. However, if you press without slowing Kentucky down, it will lead to open 3’s for Doron Lamb and ally-oops for Anthony Davis.
3. Keep Anthony Davis Out Of The Paint: Am I the only person on planet earth who realizes that Anthony Davis only scores when he’s directly at the rim? Davis is the first of his kind. His speed and length make him a very difficult match-up. However, if you keep him outside of the paint, I don’t see how he can score. Calipari has publicly said that he gives Davis the green light to shoot jumpers, but I’ve yet to see him make one all season. As long as Davis stays out of foul trouble, he will be a factor on the defensive end because of his ability to block shots. However, if Louisville can keep him away from the rim at all times, I don’t think he will score many points. That’s obviously easier said than done.
4. Maintain Composure: Kentucky is a team that can put together some unbelievable runs. At one point they could be down 5 points, but within a matter of 3 minutes they will be up by double-digits. I think Louisville has shown a great deal of composure so far this season, but they haven’t been tested in a road atmosphere like Rupp Arena. If the Cards don’t stay composed after one of those big Kentucky runs, this will turn into a blowout.
5. Be The Aggressor: Louisville will need to be in attack mode from start to finish. Teams who play passive against Kentucky don’t last very long. Louisville has a huge advantage when it comes to depth, particularly in the front-court. Hopefully they aren’t afraid to give out some hard fouls when necessary. Make Kentucky earn it at the stripe rather than giving up a dunk. Two points from the free throw line will help keep the crowd in check. A break-away dunk would bring the roof off of Rupp Arena.