VAUGHT: SEC coach warns Utah will be tough

Mississippi State coach Rick Stansbury has a warning as well as good news for University of Kentucky basketball fans. First, the warning. It concerns UK's game Friday against Utah in the Austin Regional semifinals.<P>

Mississippi State coach Rick Stansbury has a warning as well as good news for University of Kentucky basketball fans.

First, the warning. It concerns UK's game Friday against Utah in the Austin Regional semifinals.

Mississippi State coach Rick Stansbury has a warning as well as good news for University of Kentucky basketball fans.

First, the warning. It concerns UK's game Friday against Utah in the Austin Regional semifinals.

"If Utah was good enough to beat Oklahoma, it is good enough to beat Kentucky," said Stansbury. "I thought Oklahoma was one of the hottest teams in the country coming into the tournament. Whatever they did to beat Oklahoma, that means that can beat Kentucky."

Now, the good news. If Kentucky does beat Utah, and Stansbury thinks the Cats will if they play well because of their depth and quickness, then the Mississippi State coach likes UK's chances if Duke is the regional final opponent on Sunday.

"We went 11-for-21 at the foul line, didn't shoot well from the field, failed to score on five straight possessions with the score tied and still felt like we should have beat Duke," Stansbury said of his team's second-round loss.

He says Kentucky's depth could be a big factor in a Kentucky-Duke matchup. "The one thing that stands out is Kentucky's depth," Stansbury said. "We had them on the ropes with foul trouble. They have (Sean) Dockery back and that helps their depth, but they can't match Kentucky."

Stansbury says Kentucky has to contain point guard Daniel Ewing. "He's a good passer and scorer," Stansbury said. "He is the one who killed us. He manufactured shots late in the game. You've got to contain him, but (Rajon) Rondo can do it."

State assigned Winsome Frazier to Duke guard J.J. Redick, a 40 percent shooter from 3-point range. "He's a tough matchup. He's an unbelievable shot," Stansbury said.

The coach said Shelden Williams was a "load" inside.

The key to beating Duke's defense is dribble penetration. "You've got to be able to put the ball on the floor and go to the hole because of the pressure they put on you. Rondo, (Kelenna) Azubuike and (Patrick) Sparks can all do that because they are going to pressure you all the time," Stansbury said.

He thinks a Kentucky-Duke matchup could be a "war" that eventually the Cats will win.

"I just like Kentucky to beat Utah and then if they play Duke to beat Duke," Stansbury said. "I like Kentucky's chances. We kept Duke from scoring a lot and Kentucky is way better than us defensively. If Kentucky makes shots, they are really good. But if Duke gets on a roll and you can't penetrate inside, then you have problems. It will be a great game if they play, but on a neutral court you just have to like Kentucky because of the depth."


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