BamaMag.com: Tide Travels to Rupp

Alabama Men's basketball team (13-10, 2-6) is on the road to battle the Kentucky Wildcats (11-9, 5-2) this Saturday (2/9/08) at 12 noon CST. In a game that televised regionally by Raycom Sports, the Tide will take on a team that appears to have turned the corner. After struggling through their non-conference schedule (6-7), the Wildcats are now the second place team in the SEC east.

Kentucky has had several different starting line-ups, but look for the following to start against Bama: Ramel Bradley (6-2 senior guard), Joe Crawford (6-5, senior guard), Ramon Harris (6-6, sophomore forward), Mark Coury (6-8, sophomore forward), and Patrick Patterson (6-8, freshman forward).

Offensively, the Wildcats are averaging 71.7 points per game while being lead in scoring by Patterson (17.2), Crawford (16.7) and Bradley (15.8).

Kentucky's shooting percentages are 47.9 percent from the floor, 37.1 (124-334) percent from the three point line, and 75.7 percent from the free throw line. The Wildcats distribute the ball at the rate of 13.7 assists and 16.7 turnovers per game.

Kentucky has attempted the fewest three pointers in the SEC as they would like to take the ball inside. The Wildcats have the second best field goal percentage in the conference.

On defense, Kentucky allows 66.4 points per game by the opposition while holding them to 38.9 percent (second best in the SEC) from the field and 32.6 percent from the arc.

The Wildcats' defense averages 7.3 steals and 4.6 blocks per game while forcing their opponents into 14.2 turnovers per game. Even though Kentucky is next to last in the SEC in rebounds per game (34.7), they enjoy a +3.1 rebounding ratio while holding the opposition to 31.6 rebounds per game.

Look for the Wildcats to zone for most of the game while pressuring the shooters.

For Bama, this is an opportunity to pick up a road win on the SEC's grandest stage. There have been teams in the past that have boosted their confidence by winning at Rupp Arena.

A good example of that was the last time the Tide visited and escaped with a 68-64 win on January 14, 2006. That contest was just a couple of games away from the day Chuck Davis was lost for the season. That team went on to post a 10-6 conference record that season.

Defensively, look for Bama to use their 2-3 match-up zone for most of the game to disrupt the offense of Kentucky. If the Tide uses the man-to-man, the key match-up is Demetrius Jemison defending Patterson.

Look for Bama to use some full court pressure for easy baskets as the Wildcats do not handle the ball well. On offense, look for the Tide to take it into Hendrix and company if Kentucky decides to use their man-to-man.

The Wildcats' post players are thin and young, and are no match for Bama's inside game. The Tide should be able to use their size advantage for second chance points in the offensive rebounding category. Three point shooting for Bama may still come into play if Kentucky decides to zone.

If that switch is in the "ON" position, look for the Tide to earn its first SEC road victory.

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