Will Tubby go big?

Given the success the big men at Alabama, Florida and Arkansas enjoyed against Tennessee's undersized front line the past three games, you have to wonder: Will Kentucky "upsize" tonight?

The Big Blue certainly has that option. Its roster features 7-foot-3 Shagari Alleyne, 7-foot-2 Jared Carter, 7-foot Lukasz Obrzut and 6-10 Randolph Morris. Only Morris played in the earlier meeting at Lexington. Kentucky went small that evening to try and combat UT's quickness but came out on the short end of a 75-67 score.

The Cats might try a different approach tonight. The last three games have seen Tennessee outrebounded 40-31 by Bama, 36-31 by Florida and 45-24 by Arkansas – losing to the Tide and Razorbacks. Given all of this, you have to wonder if UK coach Tubby Smith will go big tonight.

"I don't know," Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl said. "He could go big; he could go small. He could go young; he could go experienced. He's got a lot of options. Whatever way they go, we've got to respond to it."

After a brief pause, Pearl added:

"I'm sure they'll try to pound it inside on us and beat us up on the boards. We'll check out. We'll draw fouls trying to check out. We'll do whatever we can to defend our backboard better than we did against Arkansas."

Say this much for Smith: He isn't content to stand pat. He is changing his lineup this season more than some coaches change their socks. As a result, Pearl has no idea what personnel combination his rival may put on the floor tonight at 8 in Thompson-Boling Arena.

"It'll make a lot of difference in that you really can't predict who they'll play or how much they'll play," Pearl said. "He (Smith) has got a lot of options. You pretty much know who Tennessee's going to have on the floor, night in and night out.

"It makes it challenging from a personnel standpoint because the guys have got to be ready to play a lot of different guys. We focus a lot on scouting. We spend a great deal of time talking about the opponent, their personnel, their tendencies.

"If you have three or four keys guys, you really harp on their tendencies and try to take them away. With the exception of Sparks and Randolph, there's a lot of guys that'll play and a lot of guys you've got to have an idea what they can do."

Especially if they're big enough to exploit Tennessee's lack of size.


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