A Different Look

TAMPA, Fla. -- The names on the front of the jerseys will be the same: Kentucky on one bench, West Virginia on the other. But so many of the names on the backs of those jerseys have changed that Saturday's NCAA Tournament third round match-up might bear little resemblance to last season's Elite Eight game.

On WVU's side, three starters from its 73-66 upset of the favored Wildcats at the are gone.

That includes its hero of last year's Final Four run, Da'Sean Butler, as well as Devin Ebanks, who quarterbacked the 1-3-1 zone defense the Mountaineers used almost exclusively in that game, using his long arms and quick feet to deny UK the passing lanes it hoped to use in its half-court offense.

Those two players, as well as forward Wellington Smith (who played only 20 minutes in that game due to foul trouble), were a significant reason Kentucky didn't have the kind of offensive day many expected it to.

The Wildcats' two biggest stars of a year ago, point guard John Wall and forward DeMarcus Cousins, each had five turnovers. The East Region's top-seeded team missed its first 20 3-point field goals that day and was 4-of-32 (12.5 percent) for the game.

Of course, UK no longer has Wall or Cousins -- or starters Patrick Patterson and Eric Bledsoe. Those four, as well as center Daniel Orton (who didn't even start for Kentucky), all were selected in the first round of the NBA Draft last June.

Indeed, only three Wildcat players who saw action in last year's game against West Virginia are even on the roster for this one -- and guards Jon Hood, Darius Miller and DeAndre Liggins combined to score only nine points in that game. Hood did not even play a full minute.

Kentucky starts one senior, forward Josh Harrellson, this season. But the 6-foot-10, 275-pounder didn't even get up off the bench against WVU a year ago.

? "They have a completely different team," said Mountaineer guard Joe Mazzulla. "I'm not sure they have that inside presence like they had from Cousins, even though Harrellson does a pretty good job."

Things aren't quite that different for the Mountaineers, who have seven players on their roster who played against UK a season ago -- John Flowers, Kevin Jones, Deniz Kilicli, Mazzulla, Casey Mitchell, Cam Thoroughman and Jonnie West.

That includes the East Region's Most Outstanding Player of 2010, Mazzulla, who turned a close Elite Eight game into one West Virginia controlled for much of the second half by knifing through the lane for a then-career-high 17 points.

Still, the three departures from last year's West Virginia squad were all significant and could change the way WVU attacks Kentucky on both the offensive and defensive ends.

"We're a much different team," Mazzulla said. "We kind of spread the load out as far as what we're going to do offensively, and we really have to rely on defense and rebounding. I don't really think it's much of a rematch."

One significant change could be the defense the Mountaineers choose to employ.

After playing the 1-3-1 zone almost exclusively last season because of the match-up problems UK presented -- particularly with the speedy Wall, who WVU head coach Bob Huggins recalled Friday was just too fast for Ebanks to handle man-to-man -- West Virginia could play far more man-to-man in this year's battle with the Wildcats.

Kentucky (26-8) doesn't have anyone with Wall's lightning quickness, but it does have several capable dribble penetrators -- as one would expect in the "dribble drive" offense employed by its head coach, John Calipari. Guards Brandon Knight and Doron Lamb (both freshmen) as well as the upperclassman Miller can create offense for themselves and their teammates, as Huggins often says, "off the bounce."

But the 1-3-1 zone might not be quite as effective against this UK team, which shoots almost 40 percent (39.8, to be exact) from 3-point range and 46.2 percent from the field overall.

"Last year, when they went 4-for-32 [from 3-point range], a lot of their shots were contested ... that's what we've got to do tomorrow," Mazzulla said. "We can't let them get standstill shots and we can't let them set their feet.

"If we can make them rush their 3-pointers, and if we can get a hand in their faces, then hopefully it will be the same result."

Offensively, West Virginia (21-11) will have many of the same goals it did a season ago. It will hope to make enough outside shots to free the lane for Mazzulla to drive at will, as he seemingly did in stretches of the second half in the 2010 match-up.

The Mountaineers needed to make outside shots, as they had nothing going in the lane early that day. They didn't make a single two-point field goal in the first half, but because of some hot outside shooting (including four first half 3-pointers from Butler), things opened up for Mazzulla later.

"The way they run their defense, if we can get them spread and if we can get them kind of chasing us, then obviously we'll be able to dribble penetrate and either finish or kick it out for shots," Mazzulla said. "It's pretty much the same thing this year." But even if Kentucky's roster is very young, Huggins said the presence of Harrellson and Miller in the Wildcats line-up has brought a sense of stability that wasn't present for Calipari's club in 2010.

"This [Kentucky] group has more experience, really, when I think about it," Huggins said. "They've got some guys that have been around a while, understand probably a little bit better what Cal wants to do, and to a degree maybe -- and I'm not in any way indicating they panicked a year ago, but you know what I mean -- they probably just stick to the course, kind of like our guys do."

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