ST. LOUIS — Three keys for Kentucky tonight against Kansas State:
1. Bash the boards. Everyone agrees Kentucky owns a sizable height advantage over a broad but not tall K-State that should lead to John Calipari’s team dominating the glass. (Should.) Of course, Kansas State knows this, too, and Bruce Weber’s Wildcats will no doubt do everything in their power — box out — to keep UK’s offensive rebounds and second-chance points to a reasonable number.
When Kentucky has been good this year has normally been when it could just overwhelm the opponent with their size and length. That trend needs to continue tonight. If K-State can hang with UK in the rebound stats, chances are K-State can hang with UK on the scoreboard.
2. Take the task at hand seriously. Yes, Kansas State finished the season with a three-game losing streak but those losses were to Iowa State, Baylor and Oklahoma State. All three of those teams are in the NCAA Tournament. Iowa State won the Big 12 Tournament. Baylor is red-hot. Oklahoma State had its back to the wall when it beat Kansas State.
Weber ended up getting fired at Illinois, but he did take the Illini to the 2005 national title game. He has an NCAA record of 11-9. He knows what he’s doing and has plenty of tournament experience.
3. Get Julius Randle roaring again. The freshman is coming off a four-point, seven-rebound effort in that one-point loss to Florida in the SEC Tournament final, a game in which Randle began the second half sitting next to John Calipari on the bench.
If UK is going to make any kind of tournament run, Randle has to be playing at a high level. That doesn’t just mean volume rebounding, but also getting the ball in the hoop. He made just one of seven shots against Florida. He needs to shrug that off night off tonight.
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