JOHN: 4 players key to the game's outcome

On Saturday, Kentucky will meet Indiana for the 49th time. UK holds a 27-21 advantage over the Hoosiers. Four players, two from each team, may represent the keys to victory.

On Saturday, Kentucky will meet Indiana for the 49th time. UK holds a 27-21 advantage over the Hoosiers. Four players, two from each team, may represent the keys to victory. The 4 players to watch for during the Indiana-Kentucky game are:.

  1. Joe Crawford - back from injury. Had a great effort in the Georgia State game, 14 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists (5-9 FG, 2-4 3pFG).  While very encouraging, it remains to be seen whether Crawford can have a real impact in a prime time game against top 20 competition.  Against UK's first two top 20 opponents, Crawford combined for 3-11 shooting.   Tubby Smith said, “When we signed Joe I said he was one of the more mature players defensively that we have signed out of high school. I thought he was ready to play defensively immediately. I know it takes everyone some time to adjust offensively at this level. I think he is showing that. With the injuries, it has kind of limited his ability to move but the other night I think he showed a lot hustle. We missed him while he was out. When you go to battle you want to have your best players and he is one of our better players.” Joe Crawford said, on his current health status… “My hip is feeling better but my knee really hurts. It is hard but I am playing alright and I am going to do whatever I can to help the team win. Earlier in the season, I tried to play through it but it kept getting worse and worse and I wasn’t giving it time to heal.” On the importance of the Indiana game… “It is a big game. We really want to show the world what we are capable of. We haven’t played our best this year. We have to pass the ball, rebound and develop more flow to our game.”
  2. Rekalin Sims - Sims started off the year well, with 22 points and 11 rebounds against Georgetown and pitching in another 22 points against Iowa. But the big junior has taken only 13 shots total in the last three games combined, playing significant minutes out of his natural forward position.  Sims is Kentucky's best front line scoring threat and can score inside and out. Sims need to step up against #18 ranked Indiana.
  3. Marco Killingsworth - a fifth-year senior who transferred from Auburn, was virtually unstoppable against top ranked Duke, who elected to use single coverage on the Indiana standout. He scored a career-high 34 points in 34 minutes, was 15-of-20 from the field, had 10 rebounds, two blocks and single-handedly got the Blue Devils' two top interior players -- Williams and McRoberts -- into foul trouble early in the second half. He also had seven turnovers in the game.   Against Duke, coach Mike Davis said, "Our game plan was to go inside, so if they're going to let Marco score 40 or 50, he'll score 40 or 50."  If Killingsworth scores like that against Kentucky, the game is over.  In a loss against Indiana State, Killingsworth looked more human against team coverage, scoring just ten points on 4-10 shooting and playing in foul trouble. For Kentucky to win, team defense against Killingsworth will be key.   Tubby Smith said, “We look at him as an inside-outside player. He can do it all. He can put on the floor and take your big man away from the basket. He can go around our guys if we don’t give the proper help. He has bulked up some since he played at Auburn. I think he is stronger and a little more aggressive. He is also getting more opportunities this year.”
  4. Marshall Strickland - scoring 14.8 ppg game this year and shooting over 55% from three point range. In a loss to Indiana State, Strickland shooting was contained to 1-5 FG and 0-3 from three-point range. The Wildcats need to replicate that deffensive effort on Strickland. More recently Strickland went for 15 points (3-5 from 3-point range) against Eastern Michigan, and his 34 points against #1 ranked Duke kept the Hoosiers within striking distance most of the game. Tubby Smith recently recognized the importance of containing Strickland by acknowledging the outstanding year he was having and adding a concern about the balance Strickland provides to Killingsworth's scoring down low.

AllWildcats Top Stories