Just in case anyone didn’t already know that Lexington is the best college basketball town in America, Rupp Arena’s packed itself with 23,000+ for today’s ESPN Gameday festivities. That attendance number shatters the previous Gameday record and gives this team another chance to shown the nation (and future recruits) why this is the best program in the country. In the words of Jay Bilas: “This is unlike anything we’ve ever seen. This is why Kentucky is the best job in the country!”
Stuff to watch in today’s game:
– John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins (or Daniel Orton) have an excellent opportunity tonight to make their case for National Player of the Year. Lots of people are going to be watching, and voters love it when players come through on the biggest of stages. Wall’s coming off a big scoring night against Alabama and Cousins has been absoultely beasting it for the last three weeks. If Wall can rattle off another one of those 20-point, 7-assist, 5-rebound, 3-steals performances he seemed addicted to early in the season, I think he’s back in the driver’s seat. On the other hand, if Cousins has another double-double (which would be his eighth straight) and is able to dominate Tennessee inside, I think he would be (and deserves to be) the leader.
– The Daniel Orton for Player of the Year chatter may have been a bit premature on my part, but his minutes have been steadily increasing as the season’s gone along. He’s played at least 15 in each of this last three games, thanks in no small part to the defensive energy he’s given Kentucky off the bench. Cal even singled him out in his last post-game presser, telling everyone that Orton’s been playing fantastic and that he has to find a way to get him more minutes. Keep your eyes on Orton’s time on the court tonight.
– Anyone that’s seen Tennessee play knows they like to trap the ball and get up and down the court. I have a feeling that their defensive pressure on our ballhandlers is going to get the Darnell Dodson-DeAndre Liggins-Darius Miller trio (anyone ever notice how many players we have with first names that start with D on this team?) lots of looks from behind the 3-point line. Dodson’s the best shooter on the team, and both Miller and Liggins have shot the ball well in streaks this season. Liggins especially has been knocking down his shots of late, as well as giving the team some extra energy on the defensive end. I expect Dodson to be big tonight, and think Liggins and Miller will both have their chances to get involved early.
– New Unis. Enough said.
Here’s a shot of Rupp Arena this morning as the Gameday crew was getting ready for the show: