As WVU and No. 1 Kentucky prepare to square off against one another tomorrow night in Cleveland, the Wildcats will be going up against the Mountaineers’ swarming pressure without getting to see much of it on tape to prepare for what WVU will likely be throwing at them.
“I don’t know that it’s much different (to other presses they have seen this season), but we know they’re going to play hard and it’s going to be a physical game, and we have been preparing for that all weekend,” said Kentucky freshman guard Devin Booker. “We still haven’t watched a lot of film, but I’m sure we are. Like I said, we know they are going to be physical and I think we’re going to be prepared for it.”
Kentucky knows that conditioning will be a key when facing West Virginia, as the Mountaineers have been able to pride themselves on their ability to wear teams down over the course of games this season. With a stable of talented guards able to handle the ball and, they hope, limit the number of turnovers they commit against West Virginia, the Wildcats head into Thursday’s game with confidence that their depth won’t be much of an issue like it has been for several teams this year against West Virginia.
The Wildcats currently turn the ball over a little more than 10 times per game, and they have only committed more than 15 turnovers three times all season - a number that WVU has eclipsed in 28 of its 34 games this season.
”I pride myself in not turning the ball over, so I’ve got to just make sure I’m focused and just handle the pressure,” said UK freshman point guard Tyler Ulis. “I’ll just try to treat it like we did with Louisville and Arkansas and stuff like that, just focus on taking care of the ball.”
Much was made earlier in the season as Kentucky went about its business each game by employing a platoon system in which the Wildcats could wholesale substitute five new guys in and out of the game whenever they pleased in order to keep legs fresh. With Alex Poythress sidelined for the year with an injury, that depth has gone down to nine plays with eight playing at least 15 minutes per game.
”It will be different (for WVU) because we have nine guys we play rotating in and out, two point guards and a lot of people who can handle the ball,” said freshman Tyler Ulis. “That’s going to be a little bit different with that rotation and stuff like that.”