By LARRY VAUGHT
Can Kentucky run with Alabama in Saturday afternoon’s game in Rupp Arena?
Before UK answers, consider that Alabama has scored 90 or more points in five straight games after having just one 90-point game last year and only 10 in the last 11 years. The Cats has outscored opponents by an average of 95-82 in the last five games and shot 47.6 percent overall and 42.9 percent from 3-point range. The Crimson Tide leads the SEC in scoring at 84.4 points per game and 3’s made per game at 11.1 while shooting 37.2 percent from 3-point range — second in the SEC.
“Well, we are who we are. You guys know that if we play a team that wants to play a game in the 50s, we’ll do that and if we play a fast team, we’ll try to score 100. So, we’ll see how the game goes,” Kentucky coach John Calipari said Friday.
“The difference is they run to shoot 3’s. They’re not running for layups. They’re not running for post-ups. Even if they throw ahead and drive, they’re driving to find somebody for a 3. So, it’s a little different in how the game goes.”
Calipari said Alabama “should have” beat Florida and Penn State.
“They should never have lost that game (to Florida). They know it. They had Penn State. Penn State led them for two minutes on the road. So, when you start looking at records, you can’t look at records when you start talking. The games they lost early, they weren’t ready to play this style yet. They hadn’t bought in,” Calipari said.
“Now they have and they’re — this will be a really hard game for us to win. I don’t care if it’s at home, on the road, on I-95, this is a hard one to play and it’ll be a hard game for us to win.”
First-year coach Nate Oats faced UK in the 2018 NCAA Tournament when he was at Buffalo and his team pushed UK without showing any signs of fear.
“They’re different. I’ll tell you what he’s doing: He’s doing a lot of the dribble-drive stuff. He’s doing some of it from five out. They’re trying to get you in rotations and on those rotations they’re either shooting it or running it downhill. They’re spacing like the dribble-drive,” Calipari said.
“With the team that he has, he’s coaching them the way that teams needs to play. The Buffalo team did some post-up stuff. This team will, but it’s not – their game is they’re going to shoot 35 3’s. If they make 17, 16, 15, 18 – move on to the next game. It’s hard.
“That’s a lot for us to (make up). And again, we’ve got to make six or seven. You’ve got to make six or seven because they’re going to hook seven in.”