Final Four 2012: What Louisville Must Do to Beat Kentucky

Jessica MarieCorrespondent IIMarch 29, 2012

ATLANTA, GA - MARCH 25:  Anthony Davis #23 of the Kentucky Wildcats and Perry Jones III #1 of the Baylor Bears vie for posession during the 2012 NCAA Men's Basketball South Regional Final at the Georgia Dome on March 25, 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Only two teams have done it this season, but it's not impossible.

Kentucky can be taken down.

And it all starts with taking away Anthony Davis.

Considered by most to be the top player in the nation, Davis led a Wildcats team chock full of superstars to a 32-2 record and a top seed in the NCAA tournament in 2011-12.

In 31.7 minutes per game, the freshman is good for 14.3 points, 10.1 rebounds, 4.6 blocks and 1.3 steals.

Eliminating his impact on defense is the first key, and pulling him away from the hoop is the way to do it.

One anonymous coach whose team has gone up against the Wildcats told's Gary Parrish:

You've got to have somebody he's guarding to be a threat way from the basket so that you can pull him away from a basket. You have to attack him from that position or get him away from the basket. You can score if you do those things. Otherwise, you better try to score in transition.

Those 4.6 blocks per game are scary for opposing offenses, which is why it's so important to avoid relying on trying to beat Davis inside. If you can establish a good matchup against him, one coach told Parrish, "You can…kinda eliminate him."

On offense, taking the Wildcats down a notch first and foremost involves keeping Davis out of the paint and making him—and the rest of Kentucky—shoot from outside and long range. That's what Vanderbilt did in their 71-64 SEC tournament win over the Wildcats.

In that matchup, Kentucky shot 35.9 percent from the floor, well below their 48.7 season average (10th best in the nation).

From three-point range, the Wildcats shot just 6-of-28. When the Commodores forced Davis to shoot from beyond the arc, he went 0-for-3, and from the floor, he went 4-for-9.

The only player to make more than one three-pointer was Darius Miller, who went 2-for-9.

Not a single starter shot over 50 percent from the floor, and Marquis Teague went 0-for-7 with zero points.

As one coach said to Parrish, "The way you beat them is to zone them or to play a sagging man-to-man and make them beat you with jumpers. That's your only chance."

One more important key is to keep the Wildcats off the free-throw line.

Look at their big 74-71 win over Florida in the SEC tournament semifinals: They went 15-for-20 from the line, while Florida got only two points off fouls. If they get to the charity stripe, they make their shots.

Beating Kentucky requires beating all three or four of their superhuman players who are capable of dominating the game, but eliminating Davis is the first key. Once you take away the Wildcats' best asset, the rest of the game plan gets a whole lot simpler.