Three things to look for – other than 3-point shooting – in Kentucky’s game tonight against Georgia:
– Trey Thompkins: Thompkins manhandled Patrick Patterson and Kentucky in their January 9th meeting in Lexington, and he’s only gotten better as the season’s gone along. Thompkins is the SEC’s 2nd leading scorer (17.9) and fourth leading rebounder (8.1), and over his last five games Thompkins has averaged 21.6 ppg and 10.2 rpg. He put up a DeMarcus Cousins-esque 21 and 17 a few games back against Alabama, giving him his 8th double-double of the season in the process, which included a Tim Duncan-esque 35 and 15 against Florida Atlantic (I know, but still) earlier this year. Simply put, Thompkins is an absolute beast, and dealing with him will be priority number one for Kentucky’s defense tomorrow night.
– Jon Hood: In an impressive display of testicular fortitude, freshman Jon Hood – who’s been a virtual non-factor up to this point in the season – recently went to coach John Calipari and told him he thought he deserved a chance in remedying Kentucky’s shooting woes. Hood told reporters that he thought Coach Cal was impressed by his plea for opportunity, but that’d we’d have to wait until game time to see how far it goes. In all seriousness, despite the fact that Hood hasn’t been a part of the rotation at all this season, I’d really like to see him get a chance to knock down some shots. I know I’m breaking my ‘other than 3-point shooting’ promise I made a couple of paragraphs ago, but seriously, how much harm can Hood do out there? His defense can’t be that much worse than Wall or Bledsoe’s, and if you can put him into some Darnell Dodson-type situations, where he’s not forced to handle the ball and can just spot up, what’s the worst that could happen? He’s 4-for-9 (44 percent) on the season from 3-point range, and considering the fact that all his action – which adds up to a grand total of 64 minutes, and only 10 since Dec. 29th – has come in sporadic garbage-time situations, I think that’s pretty impressive. It’s hard to come off the bench and knock down shots cold, but Hood’s shown he can do it. If he can get out there ten minutes a game, knock down a trey or two – or at least pose as a threat to do so – and not be a complete and total liability on defense, how’s that make him any different from Dodson? His high school career showed he has the talent, and him going to Calipari shows that he really wants to be out there, which is half the battle, combined with Kentucky’s current shooting woes…I think you’ve got to give him a shot.
– Darius Miller: Who else? Miller’s shown signs of life since being reinserted into the starting lineup, scoring seven points in each of his last two outings and grabbing twelve rebounds over the same span. He’s looked more aggressive of late, which has always been the crux of his performance issues. Miller went for his standard 5 points, one rebound line against Georgia the last time out, but I’m expecting a big game from him this time around. He’s getting more open looks for himself, his aggression is up, and there’s a slight buzz surrounding his game. If all that doesn’t keep him playing confident, nothing will.